The American stand led by Lord Stirling at the Battle of Brooklyn, which included the men of the Maryland 400. Detail, Alonzo Chappel, The Battle of Long Island, 1858, oil on canvas; M1986.29.1; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scroll down to read our latest posts!
As some of you may have seen, there has been lots of news coverage about the Maryland 400 recently. A site in Brooklyn long said to contain the graves of the Marylanders killed in 1776 is being excavated ahead of proposed construction of a school. Our project director Owen Lourie spoke to the Baltimore Sun about the Maryland 400 and their role in the Battle of Brooklyn:
“Dig may settle mystery into lost grave of famed Maryland 400 soldiers” [Baltimore Sun]
If you want to learn more about the archaeological study of the site, check out these articles:
Hopefully, the findings of the dig will be released soon. Whether or not any trace of the Marylanders is found, it’s wonderful that so much attention is being paid to them and the Battle of Brooklyn. We’re proud that we can do our part by telling their story.
This map details the initial American fortifications at Stony and Verplank’s Points along with British additions.
While each campaign year of the Revolutionary War had its own purpose and series of events, the main focus of the campaign of 1779 was to maintain the vital lines of communication between the Eastern and Southern states. George Washington believed that the fort at West Point was “the most important Post in America,” and he treated it as such. The British knew Washington’s control over West Point would not be broken by a direct attack and decided to try to draw Washington out instead. After British forces destroyed a series of towns in Connecticut in a failed attempt to persuade Washington to face them in the open plain and abandon West Point, Washington chose to respond in a way that was entirely unexpected. Thirteen miles from West Point, the British occupied Stony Point and Verplancks Point. Located on opposite sides of the Hudson River, the ferry that ran between them was the shortest and most effective line of communication between the east and the south.  Continue reading
If you’ve read a few biographies of the men of the Maryland 400, you may have noticed that many of the troops reenlisted on December 10, 1776. This is not a coincidence, but is the outcome of the reorganization of the Continental Army. Our biographies often summarize this event, but what really happened and why?  Continue reading
During both the Korean War and the Vietnam War eras, many soldiers enlisted after being given a choice by a judge: Join the military or go to jail. Today, the military will not allow anyone who has been convicted of a felony to enlist unless under special circumstances, but this controversial practice dates back to the Revolutionary War.
This was most common within the British, who often coerced soldiers fighting for the colonies to their side once captured, as happened to John McClain of Harford County, who was compelled to join after being captured during the Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, 1776.
As the newest member of the Maryland State Archives research team, I have learned an incredible amount in my first few weeks here. If you missed the post where I introduced myself and talked a little bit about my work, you can access it here.
At the Archives, we use several different types of resources for our research. Today I would like to tell you a little bit about a method which is one of my personal favorites – the card indexes that are housed on site in our State Archives Search room! Continue reading
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of our work researching Maryland’s Revolutionary War soldiers is connecting their military service to civilian life. It’s relatively straight forward to piece a man’s army history together, but finding records of that person’s life afterward, and determining that it’s not someone else with the same name, can be difficult. Sometimes we can only use indirect or circumstantial evidence.
That’s the case with George Claypoole. Continue reading
My name is Natalie Miller and I am the new Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution Research Fellow. I will be working with Taylor and our supervisor Owen Lourie on the Finding the Maryland 400 project. I just graduated in May from Randolph College with my B.A. in history, with minors in museum studies and art history. I have performed in-depth research on several occasions, and am excited to continue to grow my skills and knowledge with this project! I am researching the men from the Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment, who were from Annapolis or the larger Anne Arundel County area, and will write and upload biographies for each. If you have any questions or comments on anyone I am researching or anything that I have I written, I would love to hear from you!
I am primarily interested in learning about historic figures as real people who, just like us, had relationships, likes and dislikes, friends and enemies, pets, homes, and even made mistakes. I hope to discover some of these details about our Revolutionary War heroes in order to help expand our knowledge and understanding of them and their lives.
I would like to thank the Sons of the American Revolution for continuing to provide funding for my position and this wonderful project.
Thanks for reading!
My name is Taylor Blades and much like many of the previous interns, I am a student at Washington College. I am working towards my B.A. in Political Science and Environmental Studies. I’ve always had a strong interest in history, particularly pertaining to Maryland’s past (especially when dealing with the Chesapeake Bay). Because of this, I am strongly considering adding a History minor onto my current degree (which I would be able to do and still graduate early!). Aside from my studies, I have recently begun research for my Senior Capstone Experience, or my senior thesis, which will relate to the history of legislation in the United States pertaining to Canis lupis, commonly known as grey wolves.
As countless generations of my family grew roots throughout Maryland, specifically along the Eastern Shore, I was ecstatic to be offered a position this summer interning at the Maryland State Archives. This project is my first in-depth research project on the Revolutionary War, but I am eager to see what I am able to discover and share with all of you while adding onto all that the interns before me have been able to accomplish. It is important for me to learn as much as I can about the Old Line State and its history, especially its involvement in the independence of the United States.
I would like to thank both the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and Washington College’s Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience for providing me with this opportunity.
Alongside my blog posts here, I will also be posting on the Starr Center’s Facebook page every Thursday with updates on what I specifically have been working on here at the Archives.
– Taylor Blades
If you are in the area this week, head over to the Maryland Historical Society to see Patrick K. O’Donnell discuss his book Washington’s Immortals. Those immortals were, of course, the soldiers from Maryland.
The Maryland Line was built around a core of veterans, experienced men who had survived the Battle of Brooklyn and the rest of the 1776 campaign. The success of the Marylanders in the last years of the Revolutionary War owed much to the dedicated service of the men who volunteered to fight in the war’s earliest days. They were among George Washington’s most trusted troops.
O’Donnell’s book is full of wonderful stories, many of them about men we have written about as part of this project, men like William and Samuel McMillan, who escaped from a British prison, along with William Sterrett and James Peale. (see also here for more on the Peale family).
For more information about the lecture, see this flyer.
We hope you’ve enjoyed some of the changes we’ve made over the last few weeks. One of the big changes we made was updating the biographies page. Our goal is to make it easier to learn about Marylanders during the war by adding short descriptions next to some of our favorite biographies. Please check them out here and let us know what you think in the comments below!
Another helpful addition we made was creating a “featured posts” page, where you can easily find some of our most popular and informative posts we’ve made. If you click here, you’ll also see that at the top of the page we now feature as ‘Editor’s Choice’ post of the month. For the month of March, we selected the Editor’s Choice block to a post celebrating Women’s History Month.
We hope you like these changes and just know that more are on the way!