My name is Jillian Curran and I am an intern on the Maryland 400 Project for this summer. I am originally from Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and am now a rising sophomore at Washington College, where I major in history. At school, I am involved with the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. I have worked on both the Chesapeake Heartland Project, which researches the experiences of African-Americans on the Eastern Shore, and the World War II National Home Front Project, which collects oral histories of those who lived during the conflict. I hope to continue my historical studies and one day become a museum curator or professor.
For as long as I can remember, the past has always fascinated me.
The American Revolutionary War, in particular, has always captivated my interest. When I was first told the story of the Maryland 400, the bravery and selflessness of its members astounded me. I am so excited to help shed some light on these individual soldiers that have remained anonymous for far too long. We owe a great deal to them, and I believe that remembering and telling their stories is a beautiful way to honor them. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Washington College, the Starr Center, and their Explore America Summer Internship Program for providing me with the opportunity to do so.
Welcome aboard! We love to hear the enthusiasm!
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Welcome. I follow this posting because I am a direct descendant of Gassaway Watkins, one of the 400. But what struck me about your post is your association with the WWII National Home Front project and I am hoping you can point me in the right direction.
My father, A Noble Riedy, was a graduate of Washington College and I have 100 letters he wrote home to his mother, who lived first on Maple Ave and then on Philosopher’s Terrace- from 1938-1946-three years of that on shipboard in the Pacific about DD727 USS Dehaven. I have transcribed those letters and I have been in touch with the ship’s association, have the ship’s logs and have even been in touch with his bunkmate as well as the descendant of one of the men the ship pulled out of the ocean. I have about 500 typed pages to date and of course the original letters and I am looking for what is next for it. Could you point me in a direction?
Wow it sounds like you have done some incredible research! I’m sure the National Home Front Project would be very interested in your work, especially since your father attended Washington College. I would email firstname.lastname@example.org to tell them what you have. Hopefully they can come up with a great way to incorporate your father’s story in the project. Best of luck!
Welcome. I am a direct descendant of Joshua Naylor, a member of the Maryland 400. So nice to seem them honored. Thank you, Carla (Naylor) Micallef
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Thank you for your kind words! If you haven’t already seen our biography of Joshua Naylor, it’s here: https://msa.maryland.gov/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/017500/017545/html/msa17545.html
Yes I have already seen the biography you have of Joshua Naylor. Thank you!
I also see that there is a biography of his brother, Nicholas Naylor https://msa.maryland.gov/megafile/msa/speccol/sc3500/sc3520/017700/017706/html/17706bio.html.
Hi Jillian, Thank you for putting me in your email contacts. After perusing the website, which is wonderful, I have some comments. A few of these men are collateral relatives and are my main interest. If you are allowed to correct bios done by previous interns, for Hatch Dent, Jr., 1st paragraph, 2nd line, change “a patriot that” to “a patriot who.” A military K-9 would be a patriot that, but Dent was human. I also want to bring to your attention the Society of the Cincinnati, established after the Revolution. My kinsman General William Smallwood was a founding member and president of the Maryland chapter. Cpt. John Gassaway and Lt. Nicholas Gassaway, also distant cousins, were members, but there is no mention of their membership in their bios. If you are looking for subject matter for an essay, you might find the foundation of the Society and its early history of interest. It’s possible other members were officers of the 400. There is some information on Wikipedia, but this little book published in 1897 on the history of the Maryland chapter is fascinating. https://archive.org/details/registerofsociet05soci
Post Falls, ID
Thank you for your comments and for checking us out. We’ll make those updates to the biographies when we have a chance.
Hi Jillian and James,
Have you or any of the former researchers found evidence of African Americans, either as common soldiers or officers’ waiters (servants), in Smallwood’s 1776 regiment?
author of ‘They Were Good Soldiers’: African–Americans Serving in the Continental Army, 1775–1783 (Published by Helion and Company, United Kingdom)
We have not found any evidence of any African American soldiers in the First Maryland in 1776 under Smallwood. After 1776, every other infantry regiment was integrated, but Smallwood’s soldiers were all white. Not every soldier had his race recorded (probably one of the few times in that era that someone’s race was not commented on), so we can’t be absolutely certain. But Maryland allowed African American soldiers only because they needed the men, not because they really wanted to.
It is likely, though hard to document, that the men assigned as waiters for the officers were regular soldiers, and thus all white as far as we know. It is also very likely that some of the wealthy men among the officers brought their enslaved personal servants with them during the campaign, but again we don’t know that for certain. Mordecai Gist, for example, had a slave with him in 1778; read more here: https://msamaryland400.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/marylands-african-american-troops/.
Thanks for such a good question!