So We Meet Again

During the Battle of Brooklyn, the First Maryland Regiment lost approximately one third of their total troop strength.[1] Casualties were substantially higher in the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Seventh Independent, and Ninth Companies who were forced to make a last stand at Old Stone House. Some of these companies lost over eighty percent of their men.[2]

List of prisoners from the First Maryland Regiment. MARYLAND STATE PAPERS (Revolutionary Papers) Account of cash paid to soldiers. MdHR 19970-06-25/01 [MSA S997-6-59 01/07/03/011].

List of prisoners, including William Basford, from the First Maryland Regiment. MARYLAND STATE PAPERS (Revolutionary Papers) Account of cash paid to soldiers. Late 1776-Early 1777, MdHR 19970-06-25/01 [MSA S997-6-59 01/07/03/011].

Though the First Maryland sustained catastrophic losses as a result of their bravery, their motivation did not flag and many survivors of the Battle of Brooklyn went on to reenlist at the end of 1776 and beginning of 1777, even men like William Basford who was take prisoner. Throughout the war and after, veterans of the Maryland 400 continued to cross paths in military service and private life. This trend is exemplified through Basford’s life.

Following his service in the Fifth Company at the Battle of Brooklyn, Basford reenlisted in the newly reformed First Maryland Regiment on December 10, 1776, where he would serve for the next three years.[3] During this time, Basford served under Colonel John Hopkins Stone and Captain Nathaniel Ewing, both of whom were fellow veterans of the Battle of Brooklyn.[4] Stone had been a captain in the First Company, which like Basford’s Fifth Company, escaped through the swampy Gowanus Creek. Ewing was a first lieutenant in the Sixth Company, which was forced to make a stand at Old Stone House, and took heavy casualties.[5] He was one of fewer than two dozen soldiers who returned from the battle out of a company of 74 men.

After the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Basford returned to his family in Anne Arundel County. At the time of his death in 1785, the Register of Wills for Anne Arundel County who handled Basford’s estate records was another veteran of the Maryland 400, John Gassaway.[6] John Gassaway and Basford had fought alongside each other in the Fifth Company at the Battle of Brooklyn, and successfully beat back a British ambush which enabled them to retreat across the Gowanus Creek.

The heavy losses sustained by the First Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Brooklyn did not temper the resolve of the many men who reenlisted, illustrating their deep commitment to the American cause. This core contingency of Maryland 400 veterans often crossed paths during their military service, and continued to do so as civilians after the war.

To read more about the life and service of William Basford, check out his recently posted biography here.


[1] Mark Andrew Tacyn “’ To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), abstract.

[2] To read more about the troop strength totals following the Battle of Brooklyn, see “Company Strength” on the First Maryland Roster.

[3] William Basford, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, 0397, fold3 (hereafter cited as Service Records).

[4] Service Records

[5] To read more about the experience of the Fifth Company at the Battle of Brooklyn see “The Fate of the Fifth Company,” on the Finding the Maryland 400 blog.

[6] ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Administration Bonds) Bond of William Basford, 1785, MdHR 4848-1 [MSA C31-2, 01/03/14/017]; ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Wills, Original) Will of John Basford, 1818, box B, folder 12, MdHR 4869-2-1 [MSA C155-2, 01/04/13/007]; ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Wills, Original) Will of Thomas Basford, 1782, box B, folder 13, MdHR 4869-2-1 [MSA C155-2, 01/04/13/007].

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