“Ordered, That colonel Smallwood immediately proceed with his battalion to the city of Philadelphia, and put himself under the continental officer commanding there,” wrote the Convention of Maryland, the state’s Revolutionary legislature, on July 6, 1776. The men of the First Maryland Regiment were to depart three days later.
The Convention’s order came amid rapid and dramatic developments in Maryland. The province’s governor, Robert Eden, had left Annapolis just a days earlier. A few hours before it ordered the troops were ordered to march, the Convention formally declared independence from Great Britain, and a few days later, news arrived from Philadelphia that Congress had done the same.
As these events unfolded, a young corporal named Andrew Ferguson sat down on the very day his unit was ordered to deploy and, in neat and clear handwriting, wrote out his will:
“I, Andrew Ferguson, Corporal in Captain John Day Scott’s Company of the first Battalion of Maryland Troops, now stationed in the City of Annapolis, Being now in perfect Health, sound in Mind & Memory, and having the fear of god before my Eyes and not knowing how soon I may be call’d from this World, do I now make…this my last will and Testament…this sixth Day of July, one Thousand seven Hundred and Seventy Six”Ferguson lived in Londontowne, a town just south of Annapolis. His father, a successful tailor and corset maker, had died in 1770, leaving Andrew and his six siblings in the care of their mother Elizabeth. Andrew made provisions in his will for the support of his mother and siblings, particularly his youngest sister Elizabeth, who was then only twelve years old.
Andrew Ferguson survived the Battle of Brooklyn unscathed: his company was spared the worst of the fighting, and lost only nine men. When his enlistment ended in December, after six months grueling combat and marching, he returned home to his family in Londontowne. Sadly, while Andrew Ferguson survived his military service, he died in 1778, just a year and a half later.
Many readers will recall that we have featured several other wills by soldiers in the First Maryland Regiment. You can see a compilation here.
Many thanks to Kyle Dalton at Historic London Town for first telling us about Ferguson’s will.
Interesting story thanks for sharing. I believe there may be other men who wrote their wills before going off to War as I recall one of the other men of the Battalion had one too.
That’s true! In addition to Daniel Bowie and Joseph Butler, who made their wills on the eve of the Battle of Brooklyn, Zachariah Gray wrote his in January 1777, while at home between deployments. Edward Sinclair wrote a will in October 1776, between battles in New York.