“Not So Genteel” Behavior: Enlistment Issues Involving the Maryland 400

In September of 1776, the Continental Congress decided to restructure the Continental Army, hoping to recruit a larger number of troops. To this end, Congress ordered the creation of 88 new regiments, with quotas set for each state based on their population, and extended enlistment terms to three years. Congress set a quota of eight regiments for Maryland. In late December of 1776, Congress ordered the enlistment of another 16 regiments. With officers already struggling to meet the enlistment quotas put in place by the first order of 88 regiments, competition for new recruits only intensified. [1]

Although Congress did not request additional regiments from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia recruited soldiers from Maryland for their own quotas. Tensions over recruitment remained strong between different Maryland regiments as well. Soldiers sometimes enlisted in multiple companies to receive multiple enlistment bonuses, which officers overlooked to meet their quotas. Today’s post will examine some specific examples of competition over the recruitment of former members of the Maryland 400 within a broader context. [2]

 

thomas colvert enlistment

An example of what an enlistment form looked like. Thomas Colvert served in the Fourth Independent Company prior to joining the Second Regiment.

The newly set quotas led to double enlistment scandals. Christian Close and Alexander Shaw, two soldiers in the Eighth Company under Captain Samuel Smith, reenlisted in the First Regiment in 1776 for three-year terms. Not long afterward, they both deserted and enlisted in the Fourth Pennsylvania Regiment, collecting lucrative enlistment bonuses and receiving promotions. Their captain in the Pennsylvania regiment, Robert Connolly, had Shaw and Close help him try to recruit other soldiers away from the Marylanders as well, hoping to meet his own enlistment quota. Although the three appeared before a court in the Continental Army’s headquarters, the court did not reach a verdict before the army resumed campaigning. [3]

Another member of the Maryland 400, Hugh Wallace, similarly reenlisted in the First Maryland Regiment when his term of service ended in the winter of 1776-1777. He then enlisted in the Second Canadian Regiment mere days later. Colonel Moses Hazen desperately needed troops for the Second Canadian Regiment, and Wallace took advantage of the situation. When Wallace’s plans unraveled, George Washington himself became involved in his subsequent trial. [4]

The Maryland Council of Safety specifically stated that soldiers from the former Independent Companies should be enlisted into the Second Maryland Regiment. Despite this, veterans sometimes preferred to follow their old officers to other regiments. In late 1776 and early 1777, Captain William Frazier of the Fifth Maryland Regiment, formerly a lieutenant in the Fourth Independent Company, recruited several of the privates formerly under his command. General William Smallwood, however, had “the Independents…taken from” Frazier, and placed them under Captain Archibald Anderson’s company in the Second Maryland Regiment. Anderson had also served as a lieutenant in the Fourth Independent Company with Frazier, and wanted to have his old soldiers under his command. [5]

This marked the beginning of a feud between Anderson and Frazier, which continued on April 29, 1777. Sergeants William Pitts and Benjamin Worthington, both former soldiers of the Fourth Independent Company, had enlisted in the in Frazier’s company within the Fifth Regiment in December of 1776. At a later point, both enlisted in the Second Regiment. Unaware of their double enlistment, Frazier sent Pitts and Worthington out to recruit soldiers in Talbot County. The pair brought two servants to the Talbot County Court House in Easton so that Frazier could pay them for their enlistments. [6]

Frazier, however, had not yet arrived from Chestertown, located in Kent County. Worthington noticed Anderson, who happened to be recruiting in the area as well, and mentioned the situation to him. Captain Edward Hindman, also present at the Court House, took note of this. Pitts and Worthington told Hindman that “Captain Anderson swore that he would have…the servants” for his own company. Hindman told Anderson to wait for Frazier to arrive, but Anderson continued with his “not so genteel” actions and enlisted the servants anyway. [7]                    

When Frazier finally reached the Court House, Pitts and Worthington informed him that Anderson paid for the servants before his arrival. Anderson also claimed Pitts and Worthington as his soldiers, although “he made no doubt [that the pair] had been very useful to [Frazier] in recruiting.” Although Frazier attempted to pay for the servants, Anderson refused to part with them. He instead sent the servants “over the Bay with his other Recruits.” William Pitts and Benjamin Worthington also transferred to the Second Regiment under Anderson. [8]

These incidents illustrate how the newly set quotas influenced recruitment processes in 1777. Individual soldiers desperately in need of pay took advantage of enlistment bonuses. Other soldiers enlisted more than once to move up in the ranks. Fierce competition for recruits caused conflicts between different regiments and companies, sometimes leading to long feuds between officers. Confusion surrounding enlistments continued into 1778 and beyond, becoming a recurring problem for Maryland officers. [9]

Next week’s post will focus on the rivalry between Second and Fifth Maryland Regiments over enlistments, examining a few more incidents involving Anderson and Frazier.

 -James Schmitt, Maryland Society Sons of the American Revolution Research Fellow, 2019

Notes:

[1] Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army (Washington, D.C.: United States Army Center of Military History, 1983), 91-92. Maryland ultimately only raised seven regiments, and got credit for its share of the German Battalion.

[2] Wright, Jr., 92-93; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 18, 76, 596; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1, 1777-March 28, 1778, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 16, 234

[3] Return of the Maryland troops, 13 September 1776, Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, folder 35, p. 85, from Fold3.com; “General Orders, 13 July 1777,” Founders Online, National Archives.

[4] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, 173“List of Officers and Men of Colonel Moses Hazen’s 2nd Canadian Regiment,” vol. 18, p. 115, NARA, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War RecordsRobert Kirkwood, The Journal and Order Book of Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Delaware Regiment of the Continental Line, ed. Joseph Brown Turner (Wilmington: The Historical Society of Delaware, 1910), p. 64-65.

[5] Thomas Johnson’s Address to the Gentlemen of the General Assembly, June 28, 1777, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, 18:11 [MSA S989-27, 1/6/4/15]; “List of Bounty, Subsistances, and Pay due..,” May 10, 1777, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, 16:99 [MSA S989-24, 1/6/4/11]; William Richardson to Thomas Johnson, May 12, 1777, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, 16:12 [MSA S989-24, 1/6/4/12].

[6] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, 150, 174, 287, 292; Edward Hindman’s Certificate, May 12, 1777, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, 16:144 [MSA S989-24, 1/6/4/11]; Deposition of William Frazier, May 13, 1777, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, 16:150 [MSA S989-24, 1/6/4/11]. Unfortunately, the names of these two servants are never mentioned in any sources covering this incident.

[7] Edward Hindman’s Certificate, May 12, 1777; Deposition of William Frazier, May 13, 1777.

[8] Deposition of William Frazier, May 13, 1777; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 16, 275-277; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, 150174.

[9] Archives of Maryland Online¸ vol. 18, 540.

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4 Responses to “Not So Genteel” Behavior: Enlistment Issues Involving the Maryland 400

  1. Christos Christou says:

    Interesting topic, was not aware of this occurring. Was this an infrequent practice later in the war?

    Liked by 1 person

    • James Schmitt says:

      Hello!

      As far as I have seen, the practice of double enlistment occurred with a higher frequency in 1777 compared to later in the war. The increase in the number of double enlistments was likely related to the longer enlistment terms mandated after 1776. Although the Maryland regiments still had trouble recruiting soldiers, the practice of double enlistment was probably well known by that point. The confusion surrounding the ability to choose one’s regiment lasted at least through 1778. A recruit named Lanamore Rumney claimed that he had not been allowed to choose which regiment he would enlist in before being claimed by the Second Regiment, and wanted to serve in the Fifth Regiment.

      -James Schmitt

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  2. Pingback: “Determined to Run the Risk of Being Hanged”: The Enlistment Feud between the Second and Fifth Maryland Regiments | Finding the Maryland 400

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