On July 6, 1776 the Convention of Maryland ordered Colonel William Smallwood to march his 6 Companies stationed in Annapolis and the 3 Companies in Baltimore to Philadelphia. Joining them would be three of the Independent Companies, specifically those under the command of Captains Edward Veazey, John Allen Thomas, and James Hindman. 237 Years ago today, Smallwood’s Battalion departed for New York by way of Philadelphia. Soon after leaving, Thomas’ and Hindman’s companies were ordered to halt and return to Annapolis in order to fend off potential attacks from Lord Dunmore on the Chesapeake.1 The Nine Companies of Smallwood’s Battalion and Veazey’s Company continued north, reaching Philadelphia on July 16th, where they continued by boat to New Jersey. Thomas’ and Hindman’s company departed at the end of July after the threat from Lord Dunmore passed, catching up with Smallwood on or around August 9th.
Being the 237th anniversary of Smallwood’s departure, July 10th marks the beginning of the First Maryland Regiment’s participation in the New York and New Jersey Campaign. This campaign would prove to be devastating for the Regiment with several companies being all but decimated at the Battle of Long Island, where Maryland troops made their famous stand, for which this blog exists. The pay abstract from an earlier post gives us an idea of how many men were captured or killed during the battle. Ideally, the full strength of one of the regular companies would be 76 men and 100 men for one of the Independent companies.* Thus far, strength reports for the period directly before the battle have not been uncovered, making a precise calculation of casualties somewhat difficult. However, it is immediately evident from the pay abstract which companies made the largest sacrifices:
Captain Lucas’ Company: 27 Men
Captain Bowie’s (formerly Ewing’s) Company: 15 Men
Captain Adams’ Company: 19 Men
Captain Ford’s (formerly Stricker’s) Company: 36 Men
Captain Veazey’s (KIA at Long Island) Independent Company: 36 Men
To further diminish the ranks of the First Maryland Regiment, the Battle of White Plains inflicted even more casualties, taking the life of another Captain of the Independent Companies, Captain Bennett Bracco. Many of the survivors of this campaign went on to reenlist when the army was reorganized in December, forming a combat tested and reliable core of the new First Maryland Regiment.
1. Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July 7 – Dec. 31 1776. Archives of Maryland Online vol. 12 p. 50.
*Due to desertion and sickness, the companies were almost certainly not at full strength
Since we never want to miss an opportunity to show off original documents I have attached images of the marching orders decided upon in the Convention of Maryland to send to William Smallwood.
238 Years Ago … The 1st Company Maryland Rifles was formed c 22 Jun 1775 under the command of Captain Michael Cresap. They marched a grueling 550 miles in 22 days to join General George Washington before Boston in August 1775 at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. My 4th great-grandfather was one of the enlistees. But, little is know about the others who also served in this unit. Perhaps your research could be expanded a little to include this unit, which was the very 1st unit formed in MD to fight for the revolution. I understand the US Army of today traces its history back to the 1st Co. Maryland Rifles.
Thanks for your comment! We have come across a little about the early activities of Maryland troops, including the rifle companies that went to Boston and the Marylanders who fought at Quebec.
One very interesting source about the rifle companies is the diary of Daniel McCurtan, one of the men. It was published in Thomas Balch, ed., Papers Relating Chiefly to the Maryland Line During the Revolution (1857). You can read it online via archive.org. If you have any sources that you’ve run across about this topic, that you could pass on, that would be great!
Thanks for reading,
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