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: Why They Fought

Today on Veteran’s Day, we take a moment to consider Maryland’s Revolutionary War veterans. Our work has always centered on the soldiers themselves–before, during, and after their time in the army–rather than the battles and political events of the American Revolution. However, we have not talked very much about one key element of these soldiers’ experiences: their motivations for enlisting.

Private of the 1st Maryland Regiment, c. 1777. Don Troiani/NPS.

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Project Updates

We are proud to announce that recently we published our 700th biography! Lucky number 700 was Private Francis Shepard of the First Company; he survived the Battle of Brooklyn and the rest of the 1776 campaign, reenlisted and served until 1781, eventually rising to the rank of captain!

Since, there were almost 1,000 Marylanders at the Battle of Brooklyn, and we know the names of about 850, we have just over 150 biographies remaining. It’s a lot of work to be sure, but we’re excited that the end is in sight!

It’s taken contributions from a lot of people to get to this point, and we wouldn’t be here without the hard work of Jeff Truitt, Daniel Blattau, Emily Huebner, Taira Sullivan, Sean Baker, Josh Rifkin, Nick Couto, Burkely Hermann, Taylor Blades, Natalie Miller, and Elizabeth Cassibry!

We are also very grateful to the Maryland SAR for their continued support, which has allowed us to keep this project running for so long–more than five years!

We have one other project announcement. Staff Researcher and Maryland SAR Research Fellow Natalie Miller will be leaving us soon. Natalie has made many wonderful and valuable contributions in her time with the project, including over 160 biographies–almost 25 percent of everything we’ve done! We will miss her, but wish her good luck as she moves on. We know that she will go on to great successes.

As always, if you would like to make a contribution to the project, you can do so through the Friends of the Maryland State Archives; list “Maryland 400” under Additional Comments. Thank you!

–Owen

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The Mystery of the Maryland 400, Part II

Read Part I of this post here

On October 12, 1776, William Smallwood wrote a dispatch about the Battle of Brooklyn back to Maryland. The commander of the First Maryland Regiment noted that he had “enclosed a List of the Kill’d & Missing amounting to 256 officers inclusive.” [1] Since the goal of this project is to document who those men were, this list is tremendously important to our work. Or it would be, if we had it. But it’s missing, and it hasn’t been seen for perhaps 150 years.

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The Mystery of the Maryland 400, Part I

Today is the two-hundred forty-second anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn. The main goal of this project is to learn the names of the Maryland soldiers who fought at the battle and to determine their fates, especially the men killed in the famous stand of the Maryland 400 that saved the Continental Army. Because of lost records, we know the names of only about 850 of the roughly 1,000 Marylanders who were at the battle, and we have nearly 700 biographies of soldiers online.

However, there is a lot that we still have to learn about the soldiers’ fates at the battle. Two-hundred fifty-six Marylanders were either killed or captured at the battle, but we can only identify four men who died in the fighting: Captain Daniel Bowie, Lieutenant Joseph Butler, Sergeant William Sands, and Captain Edward Veazey. Similarly, we know the names of 73 captured Marylanders (including Bowie and Butler, who died in captivity). You can see their names here: Battle of Brooklyn Roll of Honor. Continue reading

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William Smallwood Papers Unveiling

Yesterday, the Maryland State Archives and the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution jointly unveiled a new collection of William Smallwood papers. The collection was acquired earlier this year, and consists of letters written to Smallwood, as well as file copies of letters that he sent, between 1777 and 1784, while he was a general in the Continental Army. The event was attended by Senate President Mike Miller, Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael Busch, Sec. David Craig, many members of the Maryland SAR and DAR, and other interested visitors.

miller

Senate President Mike Miller addresses the crowd

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Women in the War: “The Sick Suffered Much for Want of Good Female Nurses”

The year is 1775, and the American Revolution is in its earliest days. The United States, a fledgling nation, is unprepared for the brutal realities of war.  However, even in a well-established country, it’s impossible to predict the course of a war and the resources that will be needed. The Revolution was no different, and from the beginning, a shortage of nurses plagued the Continental Army. Continue reading

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Polearms in the Continental Army

Today, we have another post by one of our Washington College partners. Simon Belcher gives us an education about some of the bladed weapons that were used by the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

During the Battle of Brooklyn, one of the most terrifying forces that attacked the American forces were the Hessian soldiers with their cruel bayonets. As an English officer wrote, “it was a fine sight to see with what alacrity they dispatched the rebels with their Bayonets, after we had surrounded them so that they could not resist.” [1] A Hessian colonel went on to say that the American “riflemen were mostly spitted on the trees with bayonets. These people deserve pity rather than fear.” [2] Continue reading

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Maryland’s Quakers in the Revolution Podcast

Recently, longtime friend of Finding the Maryland 400 Jason Aglietti appeared on the AskHistorians podcast, to talk about his recently finished master’s thesis, “The Friends They Loathed: The Persecution of Maryland Quakers During the Revolutionary War.” You should listen!

AskHistorians Podcast 115: The Friends They Loathed – Quaker Religion and Persecution in the American Revolution

Jason, our project’s web editor and consulting historian, graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in May 2018. Drawing on many sources here at the Maryland State Archives, his thesis explors the precarious place that Quakers held in the state during the American Revolution. Because of their pacifist beliefs, Maryland’s Quakers did not support the war against Britain, or any other facet of the American Independence movement. For this, they endured persecution by the government, and harassment by supporters of the Revolution. Listen to Jason’s full interview to learn more about how Maryland Quakers navigated through this difficult period.

We hope you enjoy it! You can check out Jason’s website here: https://jasonaglietti.wordpress.com.

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Marching to What Beat, Sir? The Musicians of Washington’s Army

Have you ever played the game of “telephone?” It’s where you sit in a circle and whisper a statement into the ear of the person on your left. Then, the person on your left whispers the statement they think you said to the person on their left. This cycle continues until you reach the last person in the circle and the last person says the statement out loud. Almost always, the statement you whispered in the beginning is not the statement that is blurted out in the end. Why? Because of simple miscommunication.

Now, imagine trying to spread commands by word of mouth in the center of an eighteenth-century battlefield surrounded by the sound of muskets firing and cannonballs plummeting. It’s a nearly impossible task. Fortunately, military leaders at the time had a more efficient form of communication for both on and off the battlefield: music. Continue reading

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Alonzo Chappel and the Romantic Visual Culture of Antebellum America

This spring, Finding the Maryland 400 has partnered with students at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. These students, in Professor Adam Goodheart’s class studying the Maryland 400 and the state during the Revolution, researched and wrote biographies of Maryland 400 soldiers, as well as short essays about different topics about the American Revolution (Elizabeth Cassibry, our intern this summer, was part of this class).

Over the next few months, we will be publishing their biographies and blog posts. Today, we start with Patrick Jackson, who wrote about the magnificent painting of the Battle of Brooklyn that is this website’s header image. Today, it is owned by the Brooklyn Historical Society, who has very generously allowed us to use it. Look for more posts by Washington College students soon!

The visual legacy of Alonzo Chappel (1828-1887) is enormous and unfortunately nebulous. While many of Chappel’s paintings are known and survive in some form, a number of pieces exist only in the form of engravings and lithographs made by other artists in his circle. Chappel’s work, although widely circulated, was destined to be widely forgotten because many of his original oil paintings were lost or relegated to private collections.  [1]

This is a truly miserable fate for such a fine artist. The works which do survive in their original form, however, tell a vibrant tale not only of the artist who made them, but of the rich visual culture in which Chappel participated. The remembrance of the Revolutionary struggle by later generations, such as those in Chappel’s time around the mid-1800s, had a strong visual culture which celebrated the Romantic character of the soldiers who fought in the war. Continue reading

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