Yesterday, the Maryland State Archives and the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution jointly unveiled a new collection of William Smallwood papers. The collection was acquired earlier this year, and consists of letters written to Smallwood, as well as file copies of letters that he sent, between 1777 and 1784, while he was a general in the Continental Army. The event was attended by Senate President Mike Miller, Speaker of the House of Delegates Michael Busch, Sec. David Craig, many members of the Maryland SAR and DAR, and other interested visitors.
Radio station WYPR ran a story about the collection, which you can listen to here: http://www.wypr.org/post/new-discoveries-about-revolutionary-wars-maryland-400.
Several of the letters in this collection document Smallwood’s 1777 expedition to quell the uprising by the Loyalists on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Describing the Loyalists’ activities, Smallwood complained that they had
cut down Liberty Poles, and in direct opposition thereto, have erected the Kings Standard…[and] supplied the Kings Ships with Provision…[But] what can be expected from the Inhabitants of a Place which becomes the Reception of Deserters, escaping Prisoners, and most of the Disaffected [Loyalists] who have been expelled the neighbouring States?
The other letters in the collection were written during the Southern Campaign, while the Marylanders were fighting in the Carolinas 1781-1782, and describe the functions of the army and the struggles faced by the troops. One letter, written to Smallwood by John Allen Thomas, former commander of the Fifth Independent Company, tells the story of Charles Thompson, who survived the Battle of Brooklyn and the rest of the 1776 campaign, only to be captured at Staten Island in 1777. He was impressed into a British Army unit, then escaped a few months later. But his troubles were only just beginning.
Read his biography to learn more about his remarkable army career!
These historically-important records reveal new insights into life in Revolutionary Maryland, and into the functions of the army. They describe the struggles faced by Maryland’s soldiers, and their willingness to overcome them. By bringing this collection to the Archives, we are ensuring that these letters, and all the stories they can tell, will be preserved and kept accessible to the public in perpetuity.
You can view digital images as well as full, annotated transcriptions of the letters online here: http://speccol.msa.maryland.gov/pages/speccol/collection.aspx?speccol=6205
The acquisition of this collection was made possible through the generous support of the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. The Maryland State Archives is extremely grateful to the SAR and James A. Adkins for their contributions. Additional support came from the Friends of the Maryland State Archives, affiliated organization that supports the mission of the Archives to further knowledge and understanding of Maryland’s rich history.
You can see more photos from the event here on the SAR’s Facebook page.
Thank you to everyone who came yesterday and made it such a great event!