Second Lieutenant Thomas Goldsmith and the Battle of White Plains

Thomas Goldsmith’s military career began on January 3, 1776 when he was commissioned as a second lieutenant of Captain John Day Scott’s Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment.[1] As Frederick Wilhelm von Steuben detailed in his publication, “Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States,” as a second lieutenant, Goldsmith was tasked with teaching a small group of recruits military formations and how to follow orders. [2] Most importantly, Goldsmith was to teach the soldiers fearlessness and comradeship, through his own “judgment, vigilance, and bravery.”[3]

Pension of Thomas Goldsmith. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA M804 B. L. Wt 2399-200. From fold3.com.

Pension of Thomas Goldsmith. The National Archives. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA M804 B. L. Wt 2399-200. From fold3.com.

After only being in the military for ten months, Goldsmith brought to life what it meant to be valiant during the Battle of White Plains on October 28, 1776. At the Battle, the Continental Army was attacked by the British on the hills surrounding the village of White Plains.[4] As one Maryland soldier detailed, “Smallwood’s [regiments] suffered most, on this occasion, sustaining, with great patience and coolness, a long and heavy fire– and finally retreated with great sullenness, being obliged to give way to a superior force.”[5]

During the confrontation with the British, Goldsmith saw that a fellow soldier had been wounded and attempted to rescue him. Risking his own life, Goldsmith ran onto the battlefield, but as he was carrying his “wounded brother” back, Goldsmith received a mortal wound to his knee. Goldsmith died in October of 1776, within days of his injury.[6]

Read more about Goldsmith’s life here.

-Joshua Rifkin

 

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 15 [hereafter Archives of Maryland vol. 18]

[2] Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army, “Washington, D.C.: United States Army, 1983), 137-142.

[3] Frederick Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, Part I. (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1792), 74; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 15 [hereafter Archives of Maryland vol. 18]

[4]  David Hackett Fisher, Washington’s Crossing, (Oxford University Press, 2004), 110-111.

[5] “Extract of another letter, dated in the evening of the above day”, Maryland Gazette, November 7, 1776, Maryland Gazette Collection, Image 1202, MSA SC 2731.

[6] Pension of Thomas Goldsmith. NARA M804 B. L. Wt 2399-200. From fold3.com

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