Before he was a well-known minister and teacher, Hatch Dent Jr. was an officer in the First Maryland Regiment when the Maryland 400 made their heroic stand at the Battle of Brooklyn. A native of Charles County, Dent was the Second Lieutenant of the Ninth Company (Light Infantry) when he was captured at Brooklyn. After enduring an unusually long captivity for an officer, Dent was exchanged in April 1778 and became the captain of a company in the Second Maryland Regiment. Dent did not remain in the Army long after his return, and resigned sometime in late 1778 or early 1779.
Dent returned to Charles County following his resignation and began operating a school from the vestry house of Trinity Church. One of his pupils during this time, William Wirt, would go on to become Attorney General in the administration of James Monroe. Dent continued to teach throughout his post-war life and later became the first principal of the Charlotte Hall School in 1797.
In addition to serving as a school teacher, Dent was also ordained a minister in the Episcopal Church in October 1785. After previously serving as the reader for Trinity Church, Dent became its second rector in May 1786.
Hatch Dent, Jr. died in Charles County on December 30, 1799. The appraisal of Dent’s personal property following his death is illustrative of his life as a schoolteacher and minister. The inventory lists approximately forty books and includes such titles as Geography Made Easy, Greek Lexicon, Practical Preachers, Neal’s History of the Puritans, and Father’s Legacy to His Daughters.
Before serving his local community as a minister and teacher, Dent served the entire nation by leading men in battle and enduring a long captivity. It is impossible to know for certain what impact the war had on his post-war life and chosen professions, but it is clear that he remained a trusted leader and lived a life devoted to the service and betterment of others.
To read more about Hatch Dent Jr.’s life and military career, check out his recently posted biography here.