On August 27, 1776, after a week of anticipation, and hours of marching, the Continental Army fought the British at the Battle of Brooklyn, the first large-scale battle of the Revolutionary War. All told, the Americans lost about 300 killed, and another 1,100 captured, out of an army of 10,000. The British estimated they lost around 400 their 22,000 men.
In the latter stages of the battle, as the surrounded Americans were desperately retreating, a portion of the Maryland troops made a daring stand. Facing a much larger, better-trained foe, the “Maryland 400,” as they are now known, made a series of charges, taking heavy casualties but holding the British at bay long enough for the rest of the Americans to escape.
All told, the Marylanders lost 256 officers and men “Kill’d & Missing.” The five companies which were part of that charge, the Third, Fourth, Sixth, Ninth, and Seventh Independent, lost between 60 and 80 percent of their men.
While Col. William Smallwood, commander of the Maryland troops, compiled a list of who the killed and missing were, that list has since disappeared. In fact, the goal of this project is to learn the names and fate of the Maryland soldiers. We have learned the names of four men killed at the battle, and 72 taken prisoner. We know that about 500 of the men who fought at the battle were alive afterwards, although some may have been taken prisoner; there are about 300 others whose fate we do not yet know. Unfortunately, records of non-officers killed or wounded were not kept carefully.
As a tribute, below is a list of the killed and captured Marylanders, with links to biographies.
William Sands, a nineteen-year-old sergeant in the Seventh Company. Sands was a native of Annapolis, and a collection of papers from his brief military career have been donated to the Maryland State Archives, and are available online.
Captain Daniel Bowie, commander of the Fourth Company. Bowie was 20 or 21 years old, and had been with his company for a little over six weeks when he led them at the Battle of Brooklyn. The night before, Bowie wrote out his will, making provisions “if I fall on the field of battle.” He was wounded and taken prisoner, possibly during the desperate last stand of the Marylanders, and died in captivity a short time later.
Joseph Butler, a lieutenant of the Fourth Company. He was wounded early in the battle, perhaps in the initial assault the Marylanders faced, before the Americans were surrounded. Like Bowie, Butler was captured, and died soon after, while still a prisoner. The night before the battle, as the troops were preparing to march, Butler took some of his fellow soldiers aside and gave them instructions of what to do for his family if he was killed.
Captain Edward Veazey, leader of the Seventh Independent Company. Veazey was also killed early in the battle. His company was later part of the heroic stand of the Marylanders.
Note: Private Thomas Connor was previously included among the dead, based on a report by a fellow soldier. However, further research has shown that Connor survived the Battle of Brooklyn, and lived until 1826. Read more here.