Alternative Sources: Clothing Records of the Maryland 400

While muster rolls and company returns would give the most accurate listing of the men in the Maryland 400, we have yet to come across one from the right time in the war. This has caused us to go to other sources, such as the Pay Abstract that we found. One of our sources stands out from the others in its uniqueness, however; we have been looking at records kept by Capt. Barton Lucas‘ clerk that detail which of the men in the Third Company had pants.

Illustration of a Maryland soldier in uniform

Illustration of a Maryland soldier in uniform

The pants themselves seem to have an interesting story, for they are described as “everlasting breeches” in the clerk’s notes. Made of leather, these pants were likely a part of the uniform that the Continental Army wore at the time of the Battle of Long Island. They were given to the men by the Provincial Store, and the records were kept so Maryland’s Council of Safety could monitor the expenses that each company of the Maryland Battalion had. Other companies may have worn different kinds; while the men under Lucas were dependent on the Store for their provisions, Capt. John Allen Thomas‘ company was given credit for supplying its own clothes.1 As we have seen in our research, many men had to wait for supplies to be given to them, but Lucas’ company seemed to be well outfitted, or at least well-panted, by the time they fought at the battle.

Although the records are not dated, we know from the lists we do have that the men mentioned in them were in the company around the time that the battle was fought. One of the documents was labeled “Prisoners Long Island” by the clerk, and would seem to be a list of the men taken at the battle who were wearing these pants while captured. A man on the list, James Murphy, we know was captured at Long Island, and the presence of his name would seem to confirm that this is a list of prisoners. The details of Murphy’s case do not support the everlasting nature of the pants, however. He lost his leg as a result of the battle, something that indestructible breeches would almost certainly prevent.

Another of the documents has a list of “Men not return’d,” but it is unclear if they did not return from the battle, were not included on the company’s written return, or something else altogether. Some of our other sources indicate that a few of the men on this list were no longer in the company by the time the Battle of Long Island was fought, so it may be from too early in the war to be helpful. Written on the back of this list is another, labeled “List of Lucas’ Men who had Breeches.” Little is known about the men named on it, and it gives no indication of its proximity to the battle.

The content of the documents is somewhat amusing, but they have been surprisingly helpful. These lists also illustrate a good example of the types of sources that we find and use because official rolls are unavailable to us, be they missing or destroyed. I have included images of the documents to the bottom of this post, feel free to take a closer look. If you would like to find out more about the men on these lists, a number of them appear on our Biographies page.

-Jeff

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