Today, the Revolutionary War is remembered as a triumph of liberty, a great struggle for the ideal of freedom that the American colonists so greatly desired. In truth, however, it was much more. The Revolution was not just a war propelled by patriotic ideology created by philosophers. It was a real, trying struggle that thousands of ordinary men endured.
Looking at the lives of these men who served in the war, it becomes clear that they were fighting for more than the ideal of American liberty and the creation of the United States. They joined the conflict to acquire greater economic opportunity, improved social status, and sweeping independence, not only for their country, but for themselves as well.
For his senior thesis at Washington College, Jeff Truitt, who worked on this project last year, examined the post-war lives of six Maryland veterans, all men who survived the Battle of Brooklyn and continued to serve afterward. He attempted to understand their motivations for joining the First Maryland Regiment and fighting in the war, based on their fates once the war was over. How did their fortunes change? Did their service help or hinder their lives? Were they able to find a home in Maryland, or did they seek one further west? Were they “animated by the spirit of ’76,” or something more prosaic?
Over the next few weeks, we will be featuring the biographies of these soldiers, which offer answers to many of these questions, so stay tuned in! Many thanks to Jeff, for sharing his research and the biographies he wrote, and for all of his work on the project. Good luck in law school!