Welcome to Finding the Maryland 400

Battleoflongisland

The stand of the Maryland 400 at the Battle of Brooklyn.
Detail, Alonzo Chappel, The Battle of Long Island, 1858, oil on canvas; M1986.29.1. Brooklyn Historical Society.

Welcome to Finding the Maryland 400, a website dedicated to Maryland’s first Revolutionary War soldiers, who saved the Continental Army in 1776.

This project is a partnership between the Maryland State Archives and the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, studying the First Maryland Regiment. At the Battle of Brooklyn (also called the Battle of Long Island), the heroic stand of the “Maryland 400” held back the British Army, allowing the rest of the Americans to escape total destruction, at the cost of many Maryland lives.

You can learn more about the lives of these soldiers, their military service, and their communities by:

Please support this project through a donation to the Friends of the Maryland State Archives; indicate “Maryland 400” under Additional Comments. You may also join the Maryland SAR’s Honorary Regiment.

If you have questions or suggestions, please get in touch with us at msamaryland400@gmail.com.

Scroll down to read our latest posts!

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The Maryland Line and The Creation of the Society of the Cincinnati

As the Revolutionary War drew to a close, Continental Army officers and their French allies wanted an effective way to preserve the values they had fought for and the intense camaraderie that they had developed throughout the war. Major General Henry Knox proposed an organization which would do exactly that in May of 1783: the Society of the Cincinnati. At least twenty-four members of the Maryland 400 joined the Society of the Cincinnati of Maryland in its inception. Today’s post will take a closer look at the origins of the national Society of the Cincinnati and its Maryland branch, as well as the early problems the society encountered. [1]

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A statue of Cincinnatus located in Cincinnati, Ohio’s Sawyer Point Park.

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What’s In a Name: Military Ranks

Military terminology can be confusing. Finding the Maryland 400 has previously worked on a glossary of military units to help readers better understand the differences between companies, regiments, and battalions. Today’s post will cover a glossary of important military ranks, describing each position’s duties as explained mainly by Baron Friedrich von Steuben. Steuben, inspector general of the Continental Army, wrote a manual of war during the winter of 1778-1779 titled Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. The manual, the result of Steuben’s intense training program, described the ideal versions of officer duties. 

ContinentalArmyLefferts

A 1909 watercolor by Charles M. Lefferts depicting the uniforms of various soldiers in the Continental Army.

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Revisiting the Capture and Escape of the McMillan Brothers

Samuel and William McMillan, two brothers who enlisted in the First Maryland Regiment, fought in the Battle of Brooklyn, where Hessian soldiers captured them and decimated their company. Taken to Halifax, the two brothers were part of a group that made a daring escape, desperate to return familiar territory. Although Finding the Maryland 400 has previously discussed their escape, we recently revisited the topic when updating Samuel McMillan’s biography. After thoroughly examining pension applications made by both brothers, we can now present a more detailed and accurate version of what William McMillan referred to as “a most painful tour.” Full transcriptions of two of the most important sources within the pension can be found here and here. [1]

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This 1774 map shows many of the locations that William McMillan mentions throughout the McMillan pensions, including Halifax, St. John, Casco Bay, and Boston. You can view the full version of this map here.

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What does “Maryland 400” mean?

The term “Maryland 400” seems obvious enough—isn’t it the number of soldiers from Maryland who fought at the Battle of Brooklyn? A recent news story about the battle, for example, referenced the “regiment of just 400 Maryland soldiers” who took on the British. The meaning, however, is more than just a matter of arithmetic. [1]

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Where were the Maryland 400 Buried?

We frequently receive questions about where the Maryland 400 are buried. Popular folklore, advanced by prominent historians and public figures like Sir Patrick Stewart, suggests that a single mass grave existed, traditionally said to be located on Brooklyn’s Third Avenue between Seventh and Eighth Street. A more recent version of this theory suggested that a mass burial ground existed beneath a concrete lot between Ninth Street and Third Avenue. Following an archaeological study of the lot in 2017, we know there are no human remains there. However, a mystery still remains: Where did those brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives on August 27, 1776 likely end up? 

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This New York State Historic Marker, located outside of Brooklyn’s American Legion Post 1636, honors the Marylanders who fought at the Battle of Brooklyn but does not tell the entire story.

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August 26, 1776: The Day Before

Tomorrow is August 27, the 243rd anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn. It is a day which is commemorated every year. Today, however, I would like to mark another day: August 26, the day before.

August 26, 1776 was a Monday. There were, at the time, just under 1,000 Marylanders encamped in Manhattan. Most of them had been there since the beginning of the month, although about 200 soldiers, members of the Fourth Independent and Fifth Independent companies, had arrived within the last week or so. Consequently, they would play only a limited role at the battle. All of them, however, were aware that a battle was imminent.

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The Second War with Britain: The Legacy of the Maryland 400 in the War of 1812

Some members of the Maryland 400 who survived the Revolutionary War’s trials later faced other challenging moments in the War of 1812. The divisive war once again tested the mettle of the Revolutionary War veterans in political office and on the battlefield. While the War of 1812 cemented the legacies of some, it also harmed the legacies of others. Militia officers often earned their positions because of their reputation rather than their military prowess, which possibly contributed to their flaws. Today’s post will look at the legacy of five soldiers from the Maryland 400 by examining their roles in the War of 1812. Continue reading

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“Gross Outrage”: An Independence Day Celebration Gone Wrong

During my recent research of Adjutant Jacob Brice, I came across a place I had never heard of in relation to the Revolutionary War, called Haddrell’s Point in South Carolina. Brice was wounded and captured at the Battle of Camden in 1781 and was held at Haddrell’s Point as a prisoner of war. [1] Continue reading

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“Determined to Run the Risk of Being Hanged”: The Enlistment Feud between the Second and Fifth Maryland Regiments

In my last post, I discussed a few examples of the enlistment problems plaguing former members of the Maryland 400 in 1777. Some of the examples focused on a growing feud between Captain Archibald Anderson of the Second Maryland Regiment and Captain William Frazier of the Fifth Maryland Regiment. Both had previously worked together as lieutenants in the Fourth Independent Company, and both wanted their former soldiers to join their companies. The Maryland Council of Safety stated that former members of the Independent Companies should enlist in the Second Regiment, yet some soldiers wanted to join other regiments. Some of the soldiers of the Fourth Independent particularly seemed to dislike Anderson, and wanted to avoid serving under him again. Frazier gladly recruited his former soldiers into his company, eager to make use of their experience as hardened veterans, although this led to conflicts with Anderson as discussed last week. This week’s post will look more in depth into the feud between the two regiments. [1] Continue reading

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“Not So Genteel” Behavior: Enlistment Issues Involving the Maryland 400

In September of 1776, the Continental Congress decided to restructure the Continental Army, hoping to recruit a larger number of troops. To this end, Congress ordered the creation of 88 new regiments, with quotas set for each state based on their population, and extended enlistment terms to three years. Congress set a quota of eight regiments for Maryland. In late December of 1776, Congress ordered the enlistment of another 16 regiments. With officers already struggling to meet the enlistment quotas put in place by the first order of 88 regiments, competition for new recruits only intensified. [1]

Although Congress did not request additional regiments from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia recruited soldiers from Maryland for their own quotas. Tensions over recruitment remained strong between different Maryland regiments as well. Soldiers sometimes enlisted in multiple companies to receive multiple enlistment bonuses, which officers overlooked to meet their quotas. Today’s post will examine some specific examples of competition over the recruitment of former members of the Maryland 400 within a broader context. [2] Continue reading

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