Death by Pig

While researching soldiers and their families from the Revolutionary War, it can be difficult to uncover reliable information.  We have written about some of our methods before, and you can read one of those posts here.  However, sometimes the best we can do is to make an educated guess or conclusion, as was done in the case of the biography of John Jasper. Continue reading

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A Veteran Remembers

The last officially recorded fact about Joseph Steward’s military service is that he enlisted in the Second Company of the First Maryland Regiment, commanded by Captain Patrick Sim, on February 26, 1776. There is nothing to tell us what became of him. [1]

But another soldier remembered Steward. Moses Gill still remembered clearly, some fifty years later: Continue reading

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Happy National Literacy Day! – Literacy Rates in Colonial America

In addition to the Revolutionary War, a literary revolution swept across the American Colonies and Europe in the 18th century.  In celebration of National Literacy Day, today we will explore the literacy rates of Colonial America and how they affected the men of the Maryland Line.  Continue reading

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Upcoming Maryland 400 Lecture

On Saturday, September 9, Finding the Maryland 400 project director Owen Lourie will give a lecture at Belair Mansion in Bowie, Maryland. He will talk about the Maryland 400 at the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776, and highlight the stories of several soldiers from the Bowie area.

The lecture will be part of a day-long festival celebrating the march of the French Army, lead by General Rochambeau in 1781, which stopped at the mansion on its way to Yorktown, where they defeated the British. The program will feature reenactors from the First Maryland Regiment and the Maryland Loyalist Battalion, as well as a colonial printer and dressmaker. You can play period games and try some colonial-style sewing!

The event is free and open to the public, and runs from 12:00 to 4:00 PM. For more information, see the Event Page. Hope to see you there!

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The Battle of Brooklyn in Five Objects: Number 5, The Old Line State Quarter

The last object in this five-day series is one that many readers have likely seen before: the Old Line State quarter.


The Maryland Old Line State quarter was released in March 2000, and was the seventh coin issued under the 50 States Commemorative Coin Program Act.  It features the Maryland State House, which was the nation’s first peacetime capital, and the location where the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending the Revolutionary War. It also shows leaves from the White Oak, which is the state’s official tree.  Lastly, and most important to this series, it shows Maryland’s nickname: The Old Line State. [1] Continue reading

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The Battle of Brooklyn in Five Objects: Number 4, Daniel Bowie’s Will

Today’s object is one that we have featured before: the will that Captain Daniel Bowie wrote on August 26, 1776, the day before he was killed in combat at the Battle of Brooklyn.

For most of the year, Bowie had been a lieutenant in the First Maryland Regiment’s First Company, stationed in Annapolis. It wasn’t until July 6, four days before the Marylanders marched for New York, that he was promoted to captain of the Fourth Company. The Fourth had been based in Baltimore all year, and Bowie may not have even met any of his officers or men until a day or two before the regiment departed for New York. In addition, while a full-strength company had 74 officers and men, the unit Bowie inherited had just 58. Bowie was twenty or twenty-one years old, and like all of his men, had no prior military experience.

Daniel Bowie’s original will, written the day before he was killed in combat at the Battle of Brooklyn [MSA C1327-121]

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The Battle of Brooklyn in Five Objects: Number 3, “The New Invented Napsack and Haversack in One”

Today’s object focuses on the knapsack,  a vital piece of equipment for the Maryland soldiers. During the Revolutionary War, soldiers used knapsacks to carry extra clothing and personal items.  They also used haversacks to carry their food and eating utensils. The knapsack shown below is a modern reproduction of the type carried by some Maryland soldiers in 1776 (although possibly not the men who fought at the Battle of Brooklyn).


A reproduction of a knapsack used by the Maryland soldiers, made by members of a First Maryland Regiment reenactor group.

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The Battle of Brooklyn in Five Objects: Number 2, Mordecai Gist’s Portrait

Today’s object, as we move closer to the beginning of combat at the Battle of Brooklyn, is the portrait of Mordecai Gist. As the First Maryland Regiment’s major, Gist was the third-highest ranking officer, and the man who led the Marylanders at the Battle of Brooklyn. At the end of the battle he joined American general William Alexander, Lord Stirling, in the final stand at the Old Stone House, and also left behind a vivid and detailed account of the battle.

Mordecai Gist (1742/43-1792)
Peter Egeli (b. 1934), after Charles Willson Peale (1741-1827), 1975
MSA SC 1545-1066

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The Battle of Brooklyn in Five Objects: Number 1, William Sands’s Letter

The anniversary of the Battle of Brooklyn will take place next Sunday. To commemorate it, we are beginning a new series: The Battle of Brooklyn in Five Objects. Every day this week we will feature an object from the collections of the Maryland State Archives that helps to tell the story of the service and sacrifice of the First Maryland Regiment.

We begin today with a description of the scene in New York in the days before the Battle of Brooklyn. William Sands was a nineteen-year-old sergeant from Annapolis when he wrote this letter to his parents, Ann and John Sands.

William Sands’s letter to his parents, August 14, 1776 [MSA SC 2095-1-184]

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“Gate’s Defeat”: The Battle of Camden

1779 was a relatively uneventful year for the Revolutionary War.  The British became tired of the stalemate, so in an attempt to finish the war, they refocused their attention to the south.  The southern Continental Army was shattered after the Siege of Charleston and soon after, the militia was forced out.  The Continental Army then sent men, including ones from Maryland, to defend those colonies.  The Battle of Camden, the first battle of the campaign, was a bloody loss for the Americans, and almost resulted in an end to the war. Some of the men who fought at Camden were from the Maryland 400. Just as at the battles of Brooklyn and Staten Island, the Marylanders at the Battle of Camden found themselves alone on the battlefield after the rest of the army fled. Continue reading

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