Welcome to Finding the Maryland 400



The American stand led by Lord Stirling at the Battle of Brooklyn, which included the men of the Maryland 400. Detail, Battle of Long Island, by Alonzo Chappell (1858)

Welcome to Finding the Maryland 400, an effort to discover and explore the lives and stories of Maryland’s first war heroes, led by the Maryland State Archives in partnership with the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.

Raised in early 1776, the First Maryland Regiment joined the rest of the American troops that made up the Continental Army in New York City in August, on the eve of the Battle of Brooklyn. That battle, also called the Battle of Long Island, was the first major engagement of the war, and was an overwhelming British victory. Only the heroic stand by a small group of Marylanders–now known as the Maryland 400–held the British at bay long enough to allow the Continental Army to escape total destruction, at the cost of many Maryland lives.

Learn more about the Marylanders at the Battle of Brooklyn, beginning with the British landing on Long Island a few days before the battle, and moving forward.

There are many ways you can learn more about the First Maryland Regiment:

You may support this project through a donation to the Friends of the Maryland State Archives; indicate “Maryland 400″ under Additional Comments. If you have questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us at msamaryland400@gmail.com.

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The Role of the Captain off and on the Battlefield

Since the foundation of the Continental Army by the Continental Congress in 1775, the role of the company was quite significant. In the Continental Army, the company was the most basic unit of the army, both on and off the battlefield. A company contained roughly 70 to 100 men. Above the company was a regiment, which was comprised of seven to nine companies.

Each company was led by a captain, who had a myriad of responsibilities. In camp, because many of the men never had formal military training, the captain taught the soldiers how to work together as a cohesive unit.[1] Furthermore, the captain educated his men on how to survive on the battlefield by teaching them “discipline, order, and fearlessness.”[2] Thus, in camp, if any of his men, regardless of rank, did not behave properly, it was the captain’s job to punish those soldiers and their non-commissioned officer. However, it is important to point out that the first and second lieutenants were the men who taught the soldiers the battlefield maneuvers. [3]

Because a captain was in charge of so many men, he could not personally properly make sure they were healthy and had all the equipment they needed. As a result, in camp the captain had both his first and second lieutenants check on the soldiers at all hours of the day. This resulted in the lieutenants being able to form a closer bond with the soldiers than the captain. Moreover, the lieutenants were tasked with reporting to the captain any and all resources that needed to be purchased. The captain, in charge of all the finances in the company, would then buy the necessities, including, but not limited to, ammunition, guns, food, medicines, knapsacks, clothing, and shoes.[4]

When a battle broke out, like the Battle of Brooklyn or White Plains, on the battlefield the captain stood either to the right or to the left of his men. The positioning of the captain was important, in order to allow him either to properly chose a military tactic or relay a maneuver from the regiment’s commander. Once a tactic was chosen, the captain led his men into war, with the lieutenants ensuring that the maneuver was followed.

Regardless of whether the captain was in camp or on the battlefield, he was required to keep a detailed book regarding his soldiers. This included their date of birth, residence, if they suffered an illness, how much he paid them, and when they were promoted. It is not clear, however, if any of the captains never followed this order. None of these records seem to survive from any of the captains of the First Maryland Regiment. Our job would be much easier if they had![5]

Of course, having the captain follow all these duties was ideal. In a future post, we will explore how closely it reflected real life.

-Joshua Rifkin


[1] Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army (Washington, D.C.: United States Army, 1983), 137-142; Frederick Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, Part I. (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1792), 72-73.

[2] Steuben, 72-73.

[3] Wright, 137-142; Steuben, 72-73.

[4] Steuben, 72-73.

[5] Steuben, 72-73.

Lamenting the Death of Major Archibald Anderson

Archibald Anderson began his military career as first lieutenant in 1776 and fought with the First Maryland Regiment at the Battle of Brooklyn. A capable and brave officer, Anderson rose quickly through the ranks, receiving a promotion to captain in December 1776, and to major in June 1777. Anderson survived the major engagements of the New York and New Jersey Campaign and the Philadelphia Campaign, and continued to serve in the army as the focus of the war shifted to the south.

At the disastrous Battle of Camden in South Carolina on August 16, 1780, Anderson was one of few officers that performed heroically, rallying his men and organizing resistance while the rest of the army fled in panic. Anderson’s bravery and leadership under fire endeared him to his men and fellow officers. In addition to his capabilities as a soldier, Anderson’s comrades were equally impressed by his social qualities.[1]

On March 15, 1781 Major Anderson again took to the field and led his Marylanders during the Battle of Guilford Court House in North Carolina. Although the British drove the Americans from the field, the heavy casualties suffered by the British led General Cornwallis to eventually abandon the Carolinas and head to Yorktown, Virginia. Anderson did not live to see the ultimate victory; he was cut down by enemy fire while leading his men during the battle.

Anderson’s death was a major blow to the Americans; many reports about the battle make mention of the loss of the high ranking officer. Anderson’s sacrifice particularly impacted his fellow Marylander’s. A lengthy elegy to Anderson was published in the Maryland Gazette on April 12, 1781:

Major Anderson was amongst the first who enlisted under the banners of freedom…his patriotism was too enlarged to be satisfied with serving her its wishes…he felt a greater obligation; he owed her his personal assistance; nor did he hesitate to exchange the sweets of domestic life…for the dangers and fatigues of war…A strong and decisive judgment, an unshaken resolution and unwavering vigilance, were his. No officer could be more distinguished for cool intrepidity in the hour of action…But to have a just idea of his character, you must have seen him in his last moments; the Soldier, the Christian, and the Patriot, mingled their rays to irradiate his fall.[2]


[1] “Extract of Letter from an Officer of Distinction in the American Southern Army,” Maryland Journal (Baltimore, MD), Tuesday, April 3, 1781. From Genealogybank.com.

[2] Maryland Gazette, (Annapolis, MD), April 12, 1781.

The Infantry Career of a Naval Hero

Before Commodore Alexander Murray was one of the most highly regarded naval commanders of the early United States, he was an infantry officer in the Maryland Line, and one of the legendary “Maryland 400.”

In 1776, Murray was a seasoned merchant sailor, and wanted to command a ship in the Continental Navy, but there were no vessels available for him. As a result, Murray joined the infantry, accepting a commission as a second lieutenant in Captain Patrick Sim’s Second Company of the First Maryland Regiment. He served with the First Maryland Regiment for just over a year, helping the Continental Army fight the British, most notably at the Battle of Brooklyn.[1]

However, on April 10, 1777, when a ship was finally ready for him, Murray left the Army to join the Continental Navy as the captain of a privateer.[2] With a letter of marque, Murray, from 1777 until 1780, commanded a myriad of vessels of war, in the Atlantic Ocean along the Eastern Shore.[3] The letter of marque allowed him to attack and capture any ship “carrying Soldiers, Arms, Gun-powder, Ammunition, Provisions, or any other contraband Goods, to any of the British Armies or Ships of War employed against these colonies.” [4]

Murray fought in the Continental Navy for the rest of the war, serving with distinction and twice enduring captivity. After the war, he returned to private life, until 1798, when he rejoined the Navy, receiving a commission as a Captain, and took command of the U.S.S. Constellation. As the author Samuel Putnam Waldo wrote in 1823 about Murray, “…there was not a single American living who has passed through more arduous duty; faced more dangers-fought in more battles; or achieved more victories.”[5]

Yet even with his success, Murray ran into trouble with the U.S. Government in the early 1800s, when he seized a ship that did not belong to the enemy. Murray’s actions resulted in a Supreme Court case against him, entitled Murray v. The Charming Betsey (6 U.S. 64 (1804). In that case, Murray, commander of U.S.S. Constellation, seized the schooner The Charming Betsey, which had originally been an American vessel. The prior owners of the ship had sold it and its cargo of ammunition to Jared Schattuck, born in the United States, but then a Danish subject. The ship was thereafter captured by the French Navy and, in 1800, recaptured by Murray. Murray believed that the ship was trading with the French and, thus, was in violation of an Act of Congress. The law outlined that no ship was to partake in “the commercial intercourse between the United States and France…” As a result of Murray’s misjudgment, in 1804, the Supreme Court ordered that the vessel be returned to Schattuck.[6]

Murray died on October 6, 1821 from typhoid. After a grand ceremony, he was buried at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.[7]

To read more about Murray’s life, click here.

-Joshua Rifkin


[1] Find a Grave, “Alexander Murray”; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 13.

[2] Pension of Alexander Murray. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA M804 B.L.Wt. 2324-100, from fold3.com; Samuel Putnam Waldo, American Republic and the Kingdom of Great Britain, (Connecticut: Silas Andrus, 1823), 305.

[3] Sons of the American Revolution Membership Application, 1889-1970, Volume 71, (Philadelphia, 1901), SAR 14055, from ancestry.com

[4] Ernest McNeill Eller, Chesapeake Bay in the American Revolution, (Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1981), 265.

[5] Waldo, 305.

[6] U.S. Coast Guard. Record of Movements: Vessels of the United States Coast Guard: 1790- December 31, 1933. (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1934); William R. Wells II, US Revenue Cutters Captured in the War of 1812, American Neptune 58, No. 3, 225-241; Murray v. The Charming Betsey, 6 U.S. 64 (1804).

[7] Find a Grave, “Alexander Murray.”

Maryland Declares Independence

On July 6, 1776, the Convention of Maryland finally broke formal ties with Britain and the Calvert family that had ruled the colony since the 1630s. Maryland’s Revolutionary leaders were slow in taking this step, just as they had been slow to expel their colonial governor a week earlier, and in assenting to armed struggle against England.

The members of the Convention—the province’s self-appointed legislature, meeting without approval from their colonial rulers—enumerated their grievances against Great Britain, offering a list familiar to anyone who read the Declaration of Independence this weekend. Citing unjust taxation, subversion of justice, and coercive and vengeful acts against the colonies, with the “inexorable resolution of reducing these colonies to abject slavery,” the Convention declared

Compelled by dire necessity, either to surrender our properties, liberties and lives, into the hands of a British king and parliament, or to use such means as will most probably secure to us and our posterity those invaluable blessings,

We the delegates of Maryland, in convention assembled, do declare, that the king of Great Britain has violated his compact with this people, and that they owe no allegiance to him; we have therefore thought it just and necessary to empower our deputies in congress to join with a majority of the united colonies in declaring them free and independent states…[1]

Even then, Maryland’s hesitant leaders wished it to be known they were not eager revolutionaries:

No ambitious views, no desire of independence, induced the people of Maryland to form an union with the other colonies. To procure an exemption from parliamentary taxation, and to continue to the legislatures of these colonies the sole and exclusive right of regulating their internal polity, was our original and only motive. To maintain inviolate our liberties, and to transmit them unimpaired to posterity, was our duty and first wish; our next, to continue connected with, and dependent on Great Britain…[2]

The Convention’s resolution was published in the Maryland Gazette five days later, alongside the Declaration of Independence itself. That issue can be viewed here;  the declarations are on page 3.

1. The Declaration of the Delegates of Maryland, published in Proceedings of the Conventions of the Province of Maryland, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 78, pps. 201-203.

2. Ibid., 203; emphasis added.

The Summer of Independence Begins

The beginning of July 1776 was a busy time in Annapolis. News that the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia had voted to declare independence from Britain would be a few days in arriving, but both independence and armed conflict were foremost in everyone’s mind. [1]

Five days earlier, Maryland’s royally-appointed governor Robert Eden had been forced out of the city. Eden’s friends among the Revolutionary government had helped him arrange a peaceful, dignified exit, one that came some two years after his authority had evaporated. As the day of departure drew close, however, several indentured servants and a deserter from the First Maryland Regiment escaped to the Fowey, the ship which was to take Eden to England, and when the ship’s captain would not give them up, Eden and his party were forced to depart immediately. They left in such haste that much of Eden’s luggage and furniture remained in his mansion in packing crates. [2]

Since the early spring, six companies of the First Maryland Regiment had been stationed in Annapolis where they were receiving their training. While their orders to depart for New York would not come for another week and a half, news streaming into town about independence, and British troop movements, must have made it clear that they would be marching north soon.

To the 450 soldiers already in town, even more were added with the creation on June 29 of the Flying Camp, a short-term (nine-month enlistments) reserve force. Troops were raised all summer, and purchasing supplies took place across the state.

Meanwhile, news of resolutions in favor of independence filled the pages of the Maryland Gazette, Annapolis’s newspaper. The June 27 and July 4 issues carried accounts of Gov. Eden’s departure, news of independence resolutions in other colonies, and calls for Maryland to issue its own.

From today’s vantage point, with the benefit of knowing what was about to happen, the first days of July 1776 can feel like prologue to the years of war that were to come. And yet, even then, with newly-enlisted troops massing, and news of independence arriving daily, it must have seemed that Annapolis, and America, was on the brink of something momentous.

We’ll have more next week, celebrating the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in Maryland. Have a happy Fourth of July!


1. The Declaration of Independence was published in the Maryland Gazette on July 11, 1776, a topic for a future post. An excellent summary of the events in Annapolis during the summer of 1776 can be found in Jane Wilson McWilliams, Annapolis City of the Severn (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), 94-95.

2. The deserter was John Nottingham, a private in John Day Scott’s Seventh Company. Maryland State Papers, Red Books, vol. 12, p. 44, MdHR 4753 [MSA S989-17, 1/6/4/5]

Second Lieutenant Thomas Goldsmith and the Battle of White Plains

Thomas Goldsmith’s military career began on January 3, 1776 when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant of Captain John Day Scott’s Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment.[1] As Frederick Wilhelm von Steuben detailed in his publication, “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” as a second lieutenant, Goldsmith was tasked with teaching a small group of recruits military formations and how to follow orders. [2] Most importantly, Goldsmith was to teach the soldiers fearlessness and comradeship, through his own “judgment, vigilance, and bravery.”[3]

Pension of Thomas Goldsmith. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA M804 B. L. Wt 2399-200. From fold3.com.

Pension of Thomas Goldsmith. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA M804 B. L. Wt 2399-200. From fold3.com.

After only being in the military for ten months, Goldsmith brought to life what it meant to be valiant during the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776. At the Battle, the Continental Army was attacked by the British on the hills surrounding the village of White Plains.[4] As one Maryland soldier detailed, “Smallwood’s [regiments] suffered most, on this occasion, sustaining, with great patience and coolness, a long and heavy fire– and finally retreated with great sullenness, being obliged to give way to a superior force.”[5]

During the confrontation with the British, Goldsmith saw that a fellow soldier had been wounded and attempted to rescue him. Risking his own life, Goldsmith ran onto the battlefield, but as he was carrying his “wounded brother” back, Goldsmith received a mortal wound to his knee. Goldsmith died in October of 1776, within days of his injury.[6]

Read more about Goldsmith’s life here.



[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 15 [hereafter Archives of Maryland vol. 18]

[2] Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army, “Washington, D.C.: United States Army, 1983), 137-142.

[3] Frederick Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, Part I. (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1792), 74; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 15 [hereafter Archives of Maryland vol. 18]

[4]  David Hackett Fisher, Washington’s Crossing, (Oxford University Press, 2004), 110-111.

[5] “Extract of another letter, dated in the evening of the above day”, Maryland Gazette, November 7, 1776, Maryland Gazette Collection, Image 1202, MSA SC 2731.

[6] Pension of Thomas Goldsmith. NARA M804 B. L. Wt 2399-200. From fold3.com

James Farnandis meets George Washington

James Farnandis was the ensign of the First Company when the British captured him at the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, 1776. Farnandis remained a prisoner of the British in New York until his exchange on March 24, 1777. Upon his release Farnandis traveled to New Jersey and met face-to-face with General George Washington.

Farnandis’ reasons for meeting with Washington were twofold; he was delivering a letter about prisoners and providing vital military intelligence. Farnandis carried a letter from Colonel Robert Magaw, an American officer held prisoner who wrote that American prisoners lacked “common necessaries,” and that “their circumstances must soon be extremely disagreeable and even wretched unless relieved by remittances of their pay or otherwise.”[1] In the margins of the letter were instructions for Washington to refer to the specific case of Farnandis. Therefore, Farnandis was not merely acting as a courier, he was providing important information on the status and conditions facing American prisoners and telling the story of his own experience. Farnandis’ presentation evidently moved Washington; in his response to Colonel Magaw, Washington pledged to do “every thing in my power” to improve the situation of American prisoners.[2]

Farnandis also provided vital military intelligence. In a letter to Jonathan Trumbull Sr., the governor of Connecticut, Washington wrote that Farnandis had informed him that large, weekly supplies of fresh provisions were being delivered to the British in New York via Connecticut, which he deemed “a practice so wicked, and so injurious in its consequences.”[3] Farnandis also revealed that British officers were recruiting soldiers in Connecticut, and that one British sympathizer, John Hart, was traveling to Rhode Island john_hart_providencewith the intention of passing counterfeit money. Washington reminded Trumbull, “It highly imports us to detect and apprehend these villains whose crimes are of great enormity.” Farnandis’ intelligence was accurate and quickly acted upon; in May 1777 a court-martial convicted and executed John Hart in Providence after being found “a traitor and spy.”[4]

Farnandis’ meeting with Washington is unique in the history of the First Maryland Regiment; a very low-ranking Maryland officer briefing the commander of the Continental Army. Farnandis’ own experience enhanced the information in the letter demonstrating to Washington the conditions that confronted American prisoners. Even in captivity, Farnandis displayed his dedication to the cause, gathering important intelligence and relaying it to the army’s leadership immediately upon his release.


[1] “To George Washington from Colonel Robert Magaw, 6 April 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives. http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-09-02-0075.

[2] “From George Washington to Colonel Robert Magaw, 20 April 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives. http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-09-02-0204.

[3] “From George Washington to Jonathan Trumbull, Sr., 12 April 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-09-02-0137.

[4] “Providence, May 24,” Providence Gazette (Providence, RI), May 24, 1777, vol. 14, issue 699, p. 3.

The role of a first lieutenant during the Revolutionary War

At the start of the American Revolution, the Continental Army did not have a concrete understanding of soldiers’ roles within a regiment and how to properly prepare for war. As a result, in 1779 Frederick Wilhelm von Steuben, Inspector General of the Continental Army, cohesively organized military strategies in his publication, “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” now referred to as the “Blue Book.” Von Steuben laid the foundation for how soldiers were to be trained, the roles and ranking within a company, and military strategies.[1]

As von Steuben explained, the role of the first lieutenant was crucial to the success of the regiment. One first lieutenant in particular, was Thomas Harwood of Captain John Day Scott’s Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment. Commissioned on January 3, 1776, Harwood, as a first lieutenant, had a myriad of responsibilities. [2]  Leading his men by “his judgment, vigilance, and bravery,” Harwood was to teach the soldiers discipline, order, and fearlessness.[3] Having his men learn to follow protocol was essential to helping limit the amount of casualties during the war.[4]

During the first half of 1776, Harwood aimed to gain the trust of his soldiers so that he knew what was going on in his company. Yet, the challenge Harwood and the First Maryland Regiment faced, was that none of the soldiers, including Harwood, had any military experience prior to enlisting. As a result, it was the job of the first lieutenant to teach the new recruits military formations and how to be soldiers in a cohesive unit.[5]

All the requirements of a first lieutenant needed to be followed, so that in the event of the captain’s death, the first lieutenant could quickly step in and take over. In such an instance, during the Battle of White Plains on Oct 28, 1776, Harwood’s captain, John Day Scott, was mortally wounded, forcing Harwood to take over the control of the company.[6]

Throughout his post-revolution life, Harwood borrowed heavily from a myriad of creditors to invest in over 10,000 acres in Georgia and over 1,000 acres in Pennsylvania. However, Harwood was unable to sell the land and thus, when his creditors came after him, he found himself drowning in a sea of debt and legal cases. Having to declare bankruptcy in the late 1790s, Harwood had to sell all of his possessions, including his personal belongings, to pay back his creditors.[7] As a result, “by his imprudence he had not only ruined himself but also his children.”[8] Thomas Harwood died in Calvert County in 1804. [9]

Read more about Harwood’s life here.


[1] Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army, (Washington, D.C.: United States Army, 1983), 137-142.

[2] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 15 [hereafter Archives of Maryland vol. 18].

[3] Frederick Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, Part I. (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1792), 74.

[4] Steuben, 74.

[5] Steuben, 74; Wright, 137-142.

[6] Pension of John Babbs. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804 S.45241. From fold3.com.

[7] Thomas Harwood. Calvert County, Case# 2621, 1799, Chancery Court, Chancery Papers, MdHR 17,898-2621 [MSA S512-2695, 1/36/2/079].

[8] Thomas Harwood. Calvert County, Case# 2621, 1799, Chancery Court, Chancery Papers, MdHR 17,898-2621 [MSA S512-2695, 1/36/2/079]; Robert H. Smith and Caroline Smith vs. Joseph Wilkinson. Calvert County, Case #5003, 1804, Chancery Court, Chancery Papers, MdHR 17,898-5003 [MSA S512-5149, 1/37/1/084].

[9] Harrison Dwight Cavanagh, Colonial Chesapeake Families: British Origins and Decendants,” Vol. 1. (Xlibris LLC, 2014.), 329.

Maryland 400 Presentation

If you’d like to learn about the Maryland 400, and you happen to be able to come to Annapolis next Wednesday, June 10, at noon, then you’re in luck!

As part of the Maryland State Archives’ Lunch and Learn lecture series, Finding the Maryland 400 staffers Owen Lourie and Sean Baker are giving a presentation about the project, the Battle of Brooklyn, and the lives of the men who fought it.

For more on the lecture, and other upcoming lectures, go here:

Hope to see you there!

“Winged Messenger of Death”: Captain Edward De Coursey’s Letter to a Friend

Captain Edward De Coursey’s April 1777 letter to his friend James Hollyday is one of the most unique documents relating to an individual soldier from the Maryland 400. As the third lieutenant in the Seventh Independent Company, De Coursey fought at and survived the Battle of Brooklyn, but became a prisoner of the British at some point in the engagement. While the British did not formally exchange De Coursey until September 27, 1777, De Coursey’s letter is proof he received a parole, returned home to Maryland, and continued to serve in the army prior to his exchange.

“Edward Coursey to James Hollyday, April 12, 1777.” Hollyday Papers. 1677-1905. MS. 1317. Manuscripts Department. Maryland Historical Society.

“Edward Coursey to James Hollyday, April 12, 1777.” Hollyday Papers. 1677-1905. MS. 1317. Manuscripts Department. Maryland Historical Society.

At the time of his writing the letter, De Coursey was serving as captain in Colonel John Patton’s Additional Continental Regiment, having received a promotion to captain on January 13, 1777. The “additional regiments” were sixteen regiments authorized by Congress at the end of 1776. Although Patton’s Regiment was mostly composed of soldiers from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, it is unlikely that De Coursey was the only Marylander in the unit. While his relationship with Colonel Patton is unknown, Patton’s former commanding officer, Colonel Samuel Miles, was a prisoner of war with De Coursey and possibly recommended him to Patton.

Although De Coursey’s letter focuses on his courtship of James’ sister, Anna, and his fear of rejection from her, the letter provides great insight to the mentality and life of a company-grade Continental Army officer. Like other veterans of the Battle of Brooklyn, De Coursey had witnessed the horror of war and was acutely aware of the lurking presence of the “winged messenger of death,” that accompanied service in the army. De Coursey also refers to the time consuming duties of an officer, which would “prevent me from having much time to reflect on my unhappy fate,” should Anna rebuff him.

While De Coursey declared his intention to resign his commission and devote himself to Anna, he did not resign from the army until August 1778, more than a year later. It seems likely that, as he had feared, Anna turned down his request and he remained in the army to help cope with the failed relationship. Since he did not resign until August 1778, De Coursey would have likely fought in Patton’s Regiment at the major battles of Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth during the Philadelphia Campaign. Though he wrote that he did not wish to preserve his life if rejected, De Coursey managed to survive the war and much longer after that, living until April 26, 1827. De Coursey appears to have eventually gotten over his love of Anna, as he later married Ann Nicols and had three children with her.