Late on the night of August 26, 1776, the First Maryland Regiment and the rest of the Continental Army began to cross the East River from Manhattan to Long Island. Awaiting them were some 20,000 British and Hessian soldiers.
Earlier that day, Captain Daniel Bowie had written out his will, describing what should happen “If I fall on the field of battle.” Bowie was 20 or 21, commanding a company he had joined only seven weeks earlier.
The Marylanders marched all night, until they encountered the British around sunrise. As they prepared for combat to begin, Lieutenant Joseph Butler, was moved to consider what fate could hold for him. According to Lieutenant Joseph Ford,
[On] August 27, 1776, when Colonel Smallwood’s Regiment was drawn up on Long Island in expectation to engage with the enemy, Lieut. Joseph Butler called Ensign [sic: Lieutenant] Prall and myself out of the ranks, and desired we remember if he should be so unfortunate as to be killed that it was his desire that his brother or half brother should have his estate…He signified at the time that he did not know where his brother was, or whether he would ever apply [as beneficiary of the estate], as he had not heard from him for some time, and if he should not apply, that Miss Sarah Hall should be possessed of the whole estate…
Later that day, the Continental Army would be swept from the field in defeat. Bowie, Butler, and many other Marylanders would lie dead or dying. Word of the heroism of the Maryland 400, who sacrificed so many lives to save the American Army, was already spreading. But on August 26, all that lay in the future.
Previous commemorations of the Maryland 400:
All known Marylanders killed or captured at the Battle of Brooklyn:
The Battle of Brooklyn, as told in the words of the Maryland troops:
The troop movements of the Americans and the British before and after the Battle of Brooklyn:
- August 22: The British Come Ashore
- August 23: “They must be well watched”: Washington’s response to the British landing
- August 26: The Marylanders Arrive in Brooklyn
- August 27, part I: The British Diversion, opening the Battle of Brooklyn
- August 27, part II: Becoming the Maryland 400
- August 28: The Rain and the Retreat from Brooklyn