About This Place
Indian Head is a town in Charles County, Maryland, United States. The population was 3,422 at the 2000 census. It has been the site of a naval base specializing in gun and rocket propellants since 1890. Production of nitrocellulose and smokeless powder began at the Indian Head Powder Factory in 1900. The name of the base has varied over the years from Indian Head Proving Ground, to Naval Powder Factory, to Naval Propellant Plant, to Naval Ordnance Station, to the present Naval Support Facility Indian Head. The facility's main tenant activity is the Indian Head Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC/IH). Advanced research in energetic systems takes place at NSWC/IH. NSWC/IH absorbed the function of the closed Naval Ordnance Laboratory, formerly in White Oak. The base currently employs 3,700.
The peninsula, a "head" of land, had been long occupied by various cultures of indigenous peoples. The historic Algonquian-speaking American Indian tribe was the Mattawoman (likely a band of the Piscataway) encountered by the first English settlers; the latter called the land, "Indian Head", meaning "Indian Peninsula." (One source cites that its name came from a legend related by the Algonquian-speaking tribes. Another story claims that the town was named Indian Head because it resembles an Indian's head from the air.)
Union Brigadier General Joseph Hooker commanded the Third Brigade near Budd's Ferry in August 1861. The site was a gathering spot for volunteers, including the 5th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry under Colonel Samuel H. Starr. The site was also used by the Union Army Balloon Corps for reconnaissance of Confederate troop movements across the Potomac.,