Indian Head is a town in Charles County, Maryland, United States. The population was 3,844 at the 2010 U.S. 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 people.
The peninsula, a "head" of land overlooking the Potomac River, 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".
During the American Civil War, 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.