We are very happy to announce that we have recently completed work on another company! Last week we posted the final biography of a soldier in the Seventh Independent Company, which was raised on the Eastern Shore. While the company had 107 men when it marched to New York, we have been only able to identify 71 of them. Many of the company’s records were lost in 1776, when they were mistakenly sent to the home of the unit’s commander, Captain Edward Veazey, instead of the state capital at Annapolis. Most of the names that we do know come from a muster roll of half the company, taken in May 1776, shown below.We are fortunate this muster roll lists the soldiers’ ages, nationalities, and heights. While this information was supposed to be taken about all soldiers, this is the only such list from 1776 that we have found. In all, they averaged 24.5 years old, with a few teenagers, and two men in their forties. Two-thirds were American—mostly from Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Cecil counties—and most of the rest were Irish. The company was similar to the rest of Maryland’s 1776 recruits, who had an average age of twenty-four. Foreign-born men, who were between half or two-thirds of the total, were about a year older.
The Seventh Independent Company was never intended to leave the state. Maryland raised seven independent companies to protect the state from a British invasion, and were stationed along the Chesapeake Bay’s vast shoreline. However, by the middle of 1776, the Continental Army was in need of more men, and Maryland agreed to send them to New York. Three—the Fourth, Fifth, and Seventh independents—were present at the Battle of Brooklyn in August. Three others arrived in September, while the Third Independent never deployed, a topic we have written about before.
At the Battle of Brooklyn, the Seventh Independent took heavy casualties. Captain Veazey was killed early in the fighting, and two other officers, lieutenants Samuel Turbutt Wright and Edward De Coursey were captured. Only Lieutenant William Harrison remained to lead the men through a series of defeats that left him enraged about his fellow officers. Just 36 men escaped captivity or death, about a third of the company. We don’t know very much about who was killed versus taken prisoner, and can only identify four other men who were captured: privates James Berry, Joseph Biggs, John Copper, and Greenbury Watts. Among the men who did survive was nineteen-year-old Robert Veazey, the captain’s younger brother. There were so few survivors in the company that the men were redistributed into other companies; Emanuel Devins and Vincent Newton, for example, finished the year in the Fourth Independent Company.
Of the 71 men we know, 26 reenlisted at the end of 1776, including two, Hezekiah Foard and John Sears, who served until the war’s official end in 1783. Nearly all of the men who reenlisted fought in the Second Maryland Regiment, which was formed out of the independent companies, which were disbanded in late 1776. Twelve later deserted, and two died in combat: Copper, killed at Brandywine in 1777, and John Hardman, at the Battle of Camden in 1780. One man, Solomon Slocum, was executed as a British spy in 1781.
We have a lot of work left to document every Maryland soldier who fought at the Battle of Brooklyn, but we’re very excited to keep making progress! Many thanks to the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution for the continued generous support of our research, and to all the Finding the Maryland 400 staffers who have worked on the soldiers of this company!