Sickened Marylanders and the Philadelphia Bettering House

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when working at the Maryland State Archives on the Maryland 400 project. There is one slight change of names, from Abigail Smith to Abigail Adams.

An illustration of the Philadelphia Bettering House in 1828, courtesy of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, which is likely what it looked like in 1776 and 1777 as well.

On April 13, 1777, John Adams described the spread of disease in Philadelphia and the fate of the sick soldiers in that city in a letter to his wife, Abigail Adams. In his letter, he mentioned a local institution, called the Philadelphia Bettering House. He told her that

“I have spent an Hour, this Morning, in the Congregation of the dead. I took a Walk into the Potters Field, a burying Ground between the new stone Prison, and the Hospital, and I never in my whole Life was affected with so much Melancholly. The Graves of the soldiers, who have been buryed, in this Ground, from the Hospital and bettering House, during the Course of the last Summer, Fall, and Winter, dead of the small Pox, and Camp Diseases, are enough to make the Heart of stone to melt away. The Sexton told me, that upwards of two Thousand soldiers had been buried there…To what Causes this Plague is to be attributed I dont know…Disease has destroyed Ten Men for Us, where the Sword of the Enemy has killed one.” [1]

The Bettering House, built in 1766 or 1767, sitting on south Spruce street, was an important part of the city’s landscape. At the time, it was an almshouse, where fever-stricken patients were cared for by nuns and fed warm meals. [2] The house offered monetary and spiritual “relief” to the poor. [3] In the main building, the first floor consisted of offices, the second floor was where a steward, governor, and doctors stayed, the third floor housed the sick, the fourth housed people deemed “insane,” and the fifth floor was for other sick individuals. The “paupers” were divided by gender, with men in one side and women on the others, staying in the building’s left and right wings.

By late 1776, the Bettering House had been commandeered by the Continental Army. Months earlier, in September 1776, managers and attendants of the house opposed Continental militia, sick with dysentery, sent there to recover because their presence would endanger the health of those others staying in house. [4] It was only one of the many places in the city where sick and wounded soldiers were housed in the winter of 1776-1777. An estimated 500 soldiers with a variety of aliments were sheltered in Philadelphia, including at least thirty Marylanders in the Bettering House. [5] Some of these soldiers slept on hard floors in stores and private homes that had been quickly turned into hospitals. Due to the amount of men housed in the city and poor conditions, some of those in the Maryland Flying Camp were even sent out of the city and back to a Baltimore hospital in order to receive the best care for the soldiers. [6]

Members of the Maryland 400, Michael Nowland, John Booth, and John Price were some of the invalids housed in the city’s Bettering House, then run by a military surgeon of the Continental Army, Bodo Otto. During this period, a college-educated doctor, John White, and surgeon’s mate at a local hospital, likely tended sick and wounded soldiers, and was almost killed by fever himself. [7] Nowland was described as “convalescent,” meaning that he was recovering from his sickness. As for Booth, he was “walking about, but weak” while Price had “slow fever & deafness,” with slow fever referring to typhoid and deafness perhaps coming from gunfire during the battle. [8]

Of the 98 soldiers housed in the Bettering House, half were convalescent, weak and recovering, or “fit for duty.” Of the other soldiers, they suffered from wounds received on the battlefield, swelling, fever and related illnesses, the digestive disease of jaundice, rheumatic diseases that affect muscles and joints, and other pains in the body. [9] There were also three listed without conditions, one of whom pleaded for a discharge from the house.

From 1777 to 1778, after the British victories at Brandywine and Germantown in the fall of 1777, the British occupied Philadelphia, and took over the Bettering House, using it to care for their own soldiers. [10] By that time, the Continentals were still suffering from diseases, illnesses, and war wounds, but they were sent elsewhere or cared for in camps in Morristown, New Jersey, and Wilmington, Delaware, used by the Marylanders in subsequent winters.

Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.


Notes

[1] John L. Cotter, Daniel G. Roberts, and Michael Parrington, The Buried Past: An Archaeological History of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994, reprint), 206; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 13 April 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.

[2] Louise Stockton, The Bettering House and Other Charities, A Sylvan City: Or, Quaint Corners in Philadelphia Illustrated (Philadelphia: Our Continent Publishing Co., 1883), 398, 404, 408-410, 418, 422-423, 426; Priscilla Ferguson Clement, Welfare and the Poor in the Nineteenth-century City: Philadelphia, 1800-1854 (Rutherford: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1985), 40, 81, 83-85. It was not the same as the Blockley Almshouse.

[3] Gary Nash, “Poverty and Politics in Early American History,” Down and Out in Early America (ed. Billy G. Smith, University Park, PA: Philadelphia, 2004), 16-17; Simon Newman, “Dead Bodies: Poverty and Death in Early National Philadelphia, Down and Out in Early America (ed. Billy G. Smith, University Park, PA: Philadelphia, 2004), 55; Karin Wolf, “Gender and the Political Economy of Poor Relief in Colonial Philadelphia,” Down and Out in Early America (ed. Billy G. Smith, University Park, PA: Philadelphia, 2004), 163, 166, 174, 177, 179, 181-182, 184; Michael Meranze, Laboratories of Virtue: Punishment, Revolution, and Authority in Philadelphia, 1760-1835 (Chapel Hill: Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1996), 152-153; Steven Rosswurm, Arms, Country, and Class: The Philadelphia Militia and the “Lower Sort” During the American Revolution (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1989, reprint), 27-28. 

[4] Philadelphia Hospital Reports Vol. 1: 1890 (ed. Charles K. Mills, Philadelphia: Detre and Blackburn, 1891), 4-5.

[5] Richard L. Blanco. “American Army Hospitals in Pennsylvania during the Revolutionary War.” Pennsylvania History vol. 48, no. 4 (1981), 347, 349, 352, 354; Mary C. Gillett, The Army Medical Department 1775-1818 (Washington D.C.: Center of Military History, 1981), 70. The influx of sick soldiers led Philadelphia to have a vital role to the Continental army as a smallpox inoculation center, while it was   a medical center of the United States at this period. This ameliorated George Washington’s concern about the “threat of contagion” and complimented his attempt to establish hospitals in locations that did not lead to further spread of illness. Philadelphia. As for Maryland soldiers, Thomas Hamilton may have stayed in the Bettering House, but due to conflicting names this cannot be confirmed.

[6] After the battles of Brooklyn and White Plains, many of the soldiers of the Maryland 400 were transferred to hospitals. Some were sent to North Castle, New York, like William Marr, due to their wounds on the battlefield, while others, such as John RileyValentine Smith, and possibly James Garner, were sent to a military hospital in Annapolis. Later in the war, Walter Muse, then captain of the Second Maryland Regiment, later supervised a hospital as part of his duties. Another man, George McNamara, who enlisted in the Fourth Independent Company, deserted before the Battle of Brooklyn, and was left in a hospital by his new company. Later, James Hindman, his captain, asked that McNamara receive a discharge due to his swollen leg.

[7] Colonial And Revolutionary Families Of Pennsylvania, Vol. 1 (ed. John W. Jordan Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2004, reprint), 326, 872-873; Richard A. Harrison, Princetonians, 1776-1783: A Biographical Dictionary (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1981), 210; Gillett, 44, 70.

[8] “List of Sick Soldiers in Philadelphia, December 1776.” Pennsylvania Archives Second Series Vol I. (ed. John B. Linn and Wm. H. Egle M.D., Harrisburg: Benjamin Singerly State Printer, 1874), 528, 531-532.

[9] “List of Sick Soldiers in Philadelphia, December 1776,” 528-532.

[10] Philadelphia Hospital Reports Vol. 1: 1890 (ed. Charles K. Mills, Philadelphia: Detre and Blackburn, 1891), 5-7; Gillett, 109. After the Continentals re-occupied Philadelphia, the Bettering House was again used to house sick soldiers.

Persecuted in Revolutionary Baltimore: The Sufferings of Quakers

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I was working for the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

“Quaker Lady detaining the English General.” This engraving refers to Mary Lindley Murray who, as legend has it, delayed Sir Henry Clinton and his officers by treating them to food and drink, tempting them with her charms, while the Americans under the command of Israel Putnam escaped after the disastrous Battle of Kip’s Bay in September 1776. This cartoon counters the feelings of some revolutionaries by making Quakers seem favorable to the revolutionary cause.

In March 1777, revolutionary leader John Adams wrote an angry letter to his wife, Abigail. He declared that Baltimore was a “dull place” where many of the town’s remaining inhabitants were Quakers, who he described as “dull as Beetles” and a “kind of neutral Tribe, or the Race of the insipids.” [1] This article continues the series about Baltimore Town by focusing on the Baltimorean Quakers, also called the Society of Friends. These Quakers were living in a town where religious beliefs interlinked with political events. You can read our other posts about Baltimore during the Revolutionary War period here.

Adams clearly misrepresented the role of Quakers in Baltimore Town. [2] The Quakers were controversial in the public arena because of their dedication to pacifism resulting in refusal to pay war taxes, assert loyalty to the colonies, or lend supplies to the Continental Army.

Even though some Maryland Quakers raised money to feed the people of Boston in 1775, revolutionaries still saw them as supporting the Crown, rather than taking a neutral position. [3] Revolutionary pamphleteer Thomas Paine, the son of a Quaker, even declared that “were the Quakers…influenced by the quiet principles they profess to hold, they would…be the first of all men to approve of independence” because it gives the opportunity of “carrying their favourite principle of peace into general practice, by establishing governments that shall hereafter exist without wars.” [4] Others thought that the Quakers engaged in espionage for the British, were treasonous to the revolutionary cause or partook in illegalities. [5]

The negative perception of Quakers by revolutionaries led to fines, looting of their property, imprisonment, and numerous other forms of discrimination. [6] However, they didn’t stay silent. One letter to the Maryland Journal, in 1777, by a presumed Quaker named ‘Pacifius’ defended neutrals, like Quakers, saying “let us remember our duty, as Christians, to love our enemies” and that the Maryland legislature should repeal “acts, which create disqualifications, or impose a tax on…neutrals.” [7]

The Maryland Committee of Sufferings recorded acts of Quaker persecution in the turbulent revolutionary environment. This committee, similar to Meetings for Sufferings created in the Northern colonies in the early 1770s, petitioned the state government of Maryland about discrimination against them, pushed for exemptions to military service, and generally advocated on behalf of Quakers. [8]

In October 1778, the Committee of Sufferings in Kent County, the first of its kind in Maryland, told fellow brethren that Quakers experienced long terms of imprisonment and banishment. [9] They endured the consequences of not wanting to comply with “human injunctions and institutions.” [10] Their reasoning was laid out in detail in an appeal to the Maryland General Assembly in October 1778 by this committee. In the letter they declared that they were resolute in their principles and opposed their Revolutionary War:

“…we behold…the devastation occasioned by the present war…we believe it to be our indispensable duty to abstain from all wars & combat which have the tendency to destroy the lives of men….we cannot, consistent with our religious principles, join with either of the contending parties….constrained from entering into solemn engagements of allegiance with either….in consequence thereof, we have been brought under great sufferings…[the state] government will not derive any advantage from…continuing our sufferings…we charitably hope the Legislature of Maryland would…avoid…the imputation of persecution…we…desire to live peace with all men, and should of any of our members now deviate from our…principles by joining in war, entering into plots…against the government…the guilt of such will most assuredly be on themselves” [11]

The war caused divisions in the Quakers community. Some Quakers wanted to give their oaths of allegiance or otherwise join the revolutionary cause. [12] This concerned those on the committee because this action went against established principles since it constituted participating directly in the war’s bloodshed. Other “concerned Quakers” made munitions for the Continental Army, worked for the Army, or gave starving soldiers food and supplies. [13] Later in the war, in Philadelphia, some joined the “Free Quakers,” and took up weapons against the British.

Still, the majority of Quakers adhered to their pacifist principles and disowned such dissident forces, charging them with disobedience. If someone was disowned they would be forcibly renounced or no longer accepted in the Quaker community, which could result in exile.

The story of a Cecil County man, named Jeremiah Brown, shows discrimination that Quakers faced and how the Quaker community stuck together. On March 24, 1778 he admitted his wrong at the Brick Meeting House in Calvert, Cecil County:

“…when my wagon and team came back, which were forcibly taken to carry military stores, [I] did receive wages for the same and was paid for one of the horses which were lost in the journey, which compliance has not been easy to mind, being convinced that the testimony of truth is against such, I do not hereby acknowledge my weakness therein, hoping and desiring for the future to give closer attention to the inward principles which preserve the error.” [14]

This was against Quaker rules because it constituted complicity in the war. While the meeting was unhappy that a member of Brown’s family went to check to see on the care of their impounded horses, Brown could have felt “weak” since he been a loyal Quaker for many years. [15] Interestingly, there is no record that Brown was exiled from the Quakers since he was an active member for years to come. [16]

Actions similar to Brown’s admission either didn’t happen or were downplayed in the Baltimore meeting. This was proven to be the case when in 1781, the Baltimore Yearly Meeting declared to fellow members that “most Friends appear to be careful in maintaining our testimony against war by refusing payment of taxes.” [17]

The Baltimore meeting of Quakers was politicized by slavery. Throughout 1776, they discussed slavery in their quarterly meetings. [18]. By 1777, Maryland Quakers, under the jurisdiction of the Baltimore meeting, were threatened to be disowned if they manumit their enslaved blacks. [19] From February 1776 to November 1777, a report was prepared by Henry Wilson, Benjamin Howard, and other brethren, on those Quakers who kept slaves. The meeting recorded the manumissions of sixty-two enslaved blacks owned by fellow members and continued to assist their fellow brethren in other matters. [20] However, manumissions were not an end to slavery. The use of manumissions in Baltimore Town, for example, sustained and expanded slavery for years to come. [21] Compounding this reality was the vital role the town played in the regional slave trade, which it had largely siphoned off from Philadelphia. [22]

In November 1777, the report, strongly condemning the practice of slavery, was released to the Baltimore quarterly meeting. The committee reported that

“…they have carefully visited nearly all the families of friends that are involv’d in the oppressive practice of Slave-keeping & have with sorrow to observe the backwardness that prevails with too many Elders in society, to do Justice to that oppressed people…Testimony should be maintain’d against this oppressive practice.” [23]

While Quakers were seen by revolutionaries as siding with the British Crown, they took sides when it came to the moral issue of slavery.

In the turbulent revolutionary environment, Quakers in Baltimore Town survived through a war which would change the new United States as the British imperial system was removed and the colonial elite structures remained.

Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.


Notes

[1] Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 7 March 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society.

[2] It is possible that Adams was factious in this letter.

[3] Indian Spring Monthly Meeting: Minutes (Sandy Spring), 1772-1817, 27 October 1775 [MSA SC 2978 SCM 638-1]. The Indian Spring meeting specifically, as some have noted, “even indirectly contributed to the war effort by raising money in 1775 for the inhabitants of faraway Boston after the start of the Revolution.”

[4] Thomas Paine, “The American Crisis Number III,” Maryland Journal, May 6, 1777, Baltimore, Vol. IV, issue 182, page 2.

[5] Maryland Journal, May 13, 1777, Baltimore, Vol. IV, issue 184, page 1; Maryland Journal, September 16, 1777, Baltimore, Vol. IV, issue 202, page 1-2.

[6] J. Saurin Norris, The early Friends (or Quakers) in Maryland (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1862), 25; Camila Townsend, Tales of Two Cities: Race and Economic Culture in Early Republican North and South America: Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Baltimore, Maryland (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), 105. In Maryland, the General Assembly, even in 1747, passed a law to condemn public drunkenness outside Quakers houses of worship among other laws in 1718, 17481752, 1757, and 1765. Even so, they continued to meet in a Baltimorean private dwelling, a meeting place since about 1700. Starting in the 1770s, Quaker millers, who lived in Philadelphia, were displaced by the Revolution and settled near Baltimore. It is worth noting that a general meeting of the Quakers for the state of Maryland was not held in Baltimore until 1787.

[7] Pacificus, “To the Public,” Maryland Journal, June 16, 1778, Baltimore, Vol. V, issue 242, page 1. This is not the same as Alexander Hamilton, a man who took the pseudonym ‘Pacificus’ and debated with framers of the Constitution.

[8] Arthur Mekeel, “The American Revolution: New York Divided,” Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings (ed. Hugh Barbour, Christopher Densmore, Elizabeth H. Moger, Nancy C. Sorel, Alson D. Van Wagner, and Arthur J. Worrall, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1995), 51-61; David Cooper, “For the Testimony of Truth,” American Quaker War Tax Resistance (ed. David M. Gross, second edition, ebook: CreateSpace, 2011), 216-217; “Conclusion of the Piece Begun in the Maryland Journal Extraordinary of the 6th of November,” Maryland Journal, December 3, 1782, Vol. IX, issue 483, page 1. Based on the types of persecution that Quakers endured in later years it is possible to infer the conditions that they lived through in that fateful year of independence. Even with their outspoken beliefs, the Quakers were still worshipping in a meeting house in Baltimore by the end of the war, along with the town’s other religious denominations.

[9] Baltimore Yearly Meetings, Meeting for sufferings 1778-1841, October 1778, p. 2-3 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 556-2].

[10] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1776, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 132 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1].

[11] Baltimore Yearly Meetings, October 1778, Meeting for sufferings 1778-1841, p. 4-5 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 556-2].

[12] Baltimore Yearly Meetings, October 1778, Meeting for sufferings 1778-1841,  p. 4-5 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 556-2].

[13] Peter Brock, Pacifism in the United States: From the Colonial Era to the First World War (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), 223, 228; Maryland Journal, November 4, 1777, Vol. v, issue 209, page 4; Maryland Journal, April 21, 1778, Vol. V, issue 233, page 1.

[14] Brock, 39, 223; Bi-centennial of Brick Meeting-House, Calvert, Cecil County, Maryland (Lancaster: Wickersham Printing Company, 1902), 55. This text also notes that Brown was born in Little Britain, Pennsylvania, which had its own meeting of Quakers was associated with the East Nottingham meeting in Maryland, which was in Cecil County’s East Nottingham Hundred.

[15] Brock, 223; Grace L. Tracey and John Philip Dern, Pioneers of Old Monocacy: The Early Settlement of Frederick County, Maryland 1721-1743 (Baltimore: Genealogical Printing, 1989), 82; Bi-centennial of Brick Meeting-House, 46, 53, 56. It is possible that some of these Jeremiah Browns could have been his father.

[16] Bi-centennial of Brick Meeting-House, 66, 70.

[17] Brock, 212; “The Examination of Joseph Galloway, Esq; before the House of Commons,” Maryland Journal, November 23, 1779, Baltimore, Vol. VI, issue 322, page 1; “A Further Extract from the Examination of Joseph Galloway, Esq; by a Committee of the British House of Commons,” Maryland Journal, December 7, 1779, Baltimore, Vol. VI, issue 324, page 1. It is likely that Quakers lived under similar conditions in 1776, especially after the Declaration of Independence. During the British occupation of Philadelphia after 1778, the British reported that one-fourth of the population were Quakers and that they refused to carry arms.

[18] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1776-1777, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 131, 133-134 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1]. They also discussed slavery in their yearly meetings, of course.

[19] Herbert Aptheker, “The Quakers and Negro Slavery.” The Journal of Negro History 25, no. 3 (1940): 352; Jennifer H. Doresey, Hirelings: African American Workers and Free Labor in Early Maryland (London: Cornell University Press, 2011), 40; David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 25; David W Jordan, “”Gods Candle” within Government: Quakers and Politics in Early Maryland.” The William and Mary Quarterly 39, no. 4 (1982): 653. In earlier years, Quakers in Baltimore had “participated integrally in the local and provisional life of the colony,” even engaging in acts of civil disobedience.

[20] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1777, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 135-137 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1]; Baltimore Yearly Meetings, Miscellaneous Contents, 1677–1901, Advice (General), p. 6-7 [MSA SC 2400, SCM 551-1].

[21] Stephen Whitman, “Diverse Good Causes: Manumission and the Transformation of Urban Slavery.” Social Science History 19, no. 3 (1995): 334.

[22] Jean R. Soderlund, Quakers and Slavery: A Divided Spirit (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985), 57.

[23] Baltimore Quarterly Meeting: Minutes, 1710-1822, 1777, Quarterly Meeting for the Western Shore Collection, Special Collections, p. 137 [MSA SC 3123, SCM 571-1]. In that meeting, the investigation of fellow brethren who held enslaved blacks was continued, with a report scheduled for the next quarterly meeting.

A “little groggy”: the deputy sheriff of Baltimore and his “bowl of toddy”

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I worked at the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

Photograph of two hot toddy drinks
On December 21, 1776, Sergeant John Hardman of the Edward Veazey‘s Seventh Independent Company arrived at a public prison in Baltimore Town with captured British soldiers. [1] He was there escorting the British prisoners from Philadelphia. That night, Hardman ordered a “bowl of toddy” for the prisoners. Toddy, a popular drink originally adopted by the British, consisted of rum, hot water, and sugar.
Two other men, Daniel Curtis, the Baltimore County Sheriff, and John Ross, his deputy, asked for a “bowl of liquor.” [2] Ross, also a keeper of the town’s poor house, engaged in a friendly conversation with the prisoners, amongst whom Hardman was sitting. [3]
What happened next made people uneasy. Ross lifted the bowl of toddy, meant for the prisoners. He offered a toast, drinking to “damnation to General Washington & his army” and success “to Lord Howe & his army,” as well as to Lord Dunmore. [4] It was not unusual that he made a toast. [5] However, guards, likely Continental soldiers, saw his loyalty as antagonistic to the revolutionary cause. Since the Stamp Act in 1765, British royalty were praised less than the American colonists in toasts. This was magnified after independence.
Ross’s toast was particularly inflammatory in Baltimore. In 1775, Dunmore, then Governor of Virginia, declared that enslaved blacks and indentured servants who joined British ranks would become free. While few servants and enslaved blacks responded to his proclamation, the order echoed through the Chesapeake Bay as Dunmore formed the “Ethiopian Regiment.” [6] When Ross toasted to Dunmore, the prison guards were sure he was a sympathizer of the British Crown.
By the second toast, Ross, appearing a “little groggy,” asked the prisoners to drink “the same toast.” [7] The prisoners refused and Ross became belligerent. He drank the toddy, declaring that “they should not drink his toddy,” and that the prisoners should get a bowl for themselves. Then, appearing to “be a little in liquor,” he changed his allegiance. Ross “drank damnation to General or Lord Howe.” [8] Afterward, Hardman “challenged the said Ross,” saying he “would mark him” down for his disturbing conduct. Later, Hardman asked several people about Ross’s identity. [9]
James Calhoun, Chairman of the Committee of Observation for Baltimore Town, a provisional government in Baltimore, compiled depositions about the event in January 1777. [10] Ross was told to attend the next meeting of Maryland Council of Safety. On January 27, Ross appeared before the Council to directly address Hardman’s complaint, but Hardman was not present. [11] This was likely because he had enlisted in the Second Maryland Regiment and was not in the state at the time. The Council told Ross to appear before the Maryland General Assembly the following month on February 10. The resolution of this incident is not known. [12]
Drunken outbursts were common during colonial times. In 1770, every American over age 15, drank an average of about six shot glasses of whiskey, which is about 40 percent alcohol, every day! [13] With drinking alcohol as an important past time, it was viewed as pleasant and useful by fellow colonists. While public drunkenness was illegal, drinking played a central role in social activities, with taverns and public houses serving as places to drink and forums for revolutionary ideas. [14]
The Revolutionary War also changed Americans’ drinking habits. Americans settled on whiskey as a substitute for molasses and rum which were limited by the British naval blockade. [15] During the war, troops of the British and Continental armies were issued rations for alcohol but both armies prohibited drunkenness. [16] After the war, alcohol consumption declined slightly, but increased after 1790. [17] The spike in alcohol consumption ended with the success of the temperance movement in the nineteenth century, with more Americans criticizing alcohol use. [18]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.

Notes

[1] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 4748; Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore, December 23, 1776, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, Red Book 13, MdHR 4575-179 [MSA S989-19, 1/6/4/7]; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1766-1768, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 61, 14, 8687, 185299, 308310, 361368, 387, 389390393442, 520; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1769-1770, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 62, 126; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 45, 7172; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1771 to June-July, 1773, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 63, 37282; Correspondence of Governor Sharpe, 1757-1761, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 9, 421; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 64, 199, 337; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 374. The British soldiers, recruited in North Carolina, may have been captured at the Battle of White Plains. Hardman was under the command of Levin Winder, who had recently been appointed as a captain.

[2] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 47. When Hardman describes Ross as a “sub-sheriff” this means that Ross is an assistant or deputy sheriff.

[3] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1769-1770, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 62, 387, 403; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 47; Paul Starr, The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The rise of a sovereign profession and making of a vast industry (USA: Basic Books, 1982),105; Seth Rockman, Scraping By: Wage Labor, Slavery, and Survival in Early Baltimore (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009), 1, 194-196, 199-200, 203, 205-208, 210-212, 337; Camilla Townsend, Tales of Two Cities: Race and Economic Culture in Early Republican North and South America: Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Baltimore, Maryland (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), 37, 39, 122, 283-284; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, 1766-1768, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 61, 96; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 64, 23; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 45, 178, 267, 581; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1789-1793, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 72, 347; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 48, 150; Proceedings and Acts of the General Assembly, October 1773 to April 1774, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 64, 259, 260, 261, 262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 267, 268269. Interestingly, no hard liquors were allowed in the poor house. The poor house, also called an almshouse, on the outskirts of Baltimore Town, was created to serve as “relief” for the poor. It aimed to “reform” the poor to not be disorderly and engage in “meaningful” work.

[4] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 46. The prison guards may have also been suspicious of him considering that he never praised the Continental Army and George Washington in any of his toasts.

[5] Peter Thompson, “”The Friendly Glass”: Drink and Gentility in Colonial Philadelphia.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 113, no. 4 (1989): 553, 557-558, 560; Richard J. Hooker, “The American Revolution Seen through a Wine Glass.” The William and Mary Quarterly 11, no. 1 (1954): 52-77; Thaddeus Russell, A Renegade History of the United States (New York: Free Press, 2010), 5. Not all of those who are toasted were praised. Hardman suspected Ross as “a Tory.”

[6] Gary B. Nash, Red, White, and Black: The Peoples of Early North America (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2000, fourth edition), 274-275; Ray Raphael, A People’s History of the American Revolution (New York: Perennial, 2002, second edition), 309-311, 316, 320-327, 331-332, 335, 342, 355, 358, 385, 397; Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics and the Revolution in Maryland (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 184-185. This regiment fought in the Battle of Great Bridge (1775) near Chesapeake, Virginia before many of those in the regiment succumbed to smallpox. In later years, every time British ships would come down the Chesapeake Bay, runaway slaves would flock to the incoming ships. Enslaved blacks renounced their owners and flocked to British lines, with some fugitives attacking plantations of their former masters on the Eastern Shore. Not surprisingly, desperate slaveowners in Maryland appealed to the state government, originally the Maryland Council of Safety, asking them for assistance.

[7] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 4647.

[8] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore.

[9] Deposition about the statements of John Ross, Sub-Sheriff in Baltimore. This is interesting considering that earlier prisoners had told Ross who Hardman was.

[10] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 4647. These people made depositions: Elizabeth Dewit, wife of prison guard Thomas Dewit, prison guard Constantine O’Donnell, John Hardman, sergeant of Edward Veazey‘s company, Ross’s associate Daniel Curtis, and civil servant William Spencer.

[11] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 16, 59, 60, 83.

[12] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, April 1, 1778 through October 26, 1779, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 21, 568. Ross appears again in October 1779 asking for, along with a number of others, a recount in an “unfair” county election of sheriffs, but the Council of Maryland refused to do that, saying that the election was “valid & effectual.”

[13] Jessica Kross, “”If You Will Not Drink with Me, You Must Fight with Me”: The Sociology of Drinking in the Middle Colonies.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 64, no. 1 (1997): 28; W.J. Rorabaugh, The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979), 10; Russell, 6-7; Alcohol and Drugs in North America: A Historical Encyclopedia, Vol 1: A-L (ed. David M. Fahey and Jon S. Miller, Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, 2013), 84; W. J. Rorabaugh, “Alcohol in America.” OAH Magazine of History 6, no. 2 (1991):17. Americans drank whiskey that “80 proof,” referring to the weight of an average spirit and indicating the drink is 40 percent alcohol. Historian Jessica Kross said that this number “might well understate beer consumption and assumes women drank more than men” which was echoed by other scholars. Americans, of all ages, guzzled three and half gallons of alcohol per year, on average. They drank rum and cider at every meal.

[14] Kross, 43; Peter Thompson, “”The Friendly Glass”: Drink and Gentility in Colonial Philadelphia.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 113, no. 4 (1989): 549; Russell, 20, 26; Christine Sismondo, America Walks Into A Bar: A Spirited History of Taverns and Saloons, Speakeasies and Grog Shops (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), xv, 54, 78-79; Peter Thompson, Rum Punch and Revolution: Taverngoing and Public Life in Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999), 13, 20, 75, 143, 145. Taverns were also places for revolutionary recruiting and organizing. Politicians even fished for votes among inebriated citizens.

[15] Rorabaugh, 17; Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Drinking In America: A History (New York: The Free Press, 1987), 31. At the same time, rum consumption declined since rum became associated with Great Britain.

[16] Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Drinking In America: A History (New York: The Free Press, 1987), 32; Eric Burns, The Spirits of America: A Social History of Alcohol (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2004), 16; Sarah H. Meachan, Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender, and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake (Baltimore: JHU Press, 2009), 5, 95. George Washington specifically hated alcohol abuse even though he ordered alcohol for his men, as a morale booster.

[17] Rorabaugh, 10; Korss, 48; Thompson, 549; Russell, 28, 30, 33; Sharon V. Salinger, Taverns and Drinking in Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002), 246, 252, 282; Rorabaugh, 21, 25, 36, 67, 136, 149-150, 167, 219; Mark Edward Lender and James Kirby Martin, Drinking In America: A History (New York: The Free Press, 1987), 38, 46; The Concise Princeton Encyclopedia of American Political History (ed., Michael Kazin, Rebecca Edwards, and Adam Rothman, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2011), 405. Americans continued to drink in huge quantities, despite the failed efforts of temperance advocates, like Benjamin Rush, to limit consumption in taverns, inns, and drinking houses.

[18] Peter McCandless, Slavery, Disease, and Suffering in the Southern Lowcountry (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 196, 272; Drugs in America: A Documentary History (ed. David F. Musto, New York: New York University Press, 2002), 3; Scott C. Martin, “Introduction: Toward a Cultural Theory of the Market Revolution,” Cultural Change and the Market Revolution in America, 1789-1860 (ed. Scott C. Martin, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005), 3;  Mitchel P. Roth, Crime and Punishment: A History of the Criminal Justice System (Second Edition, United States: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010), 112; Marvin Kitman, The Making of the President 1789: The Unauthorized Campaign Biography (New York: Grove Press, 1989), 40.

The political climate of Baltimore in 1776

Reposted this from Academia.edu. I originally posted this while working at the Maryland State Archives as part of the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

An illustration from 1777 drawn by British printmaker Matthew Darly. It is captioned: “Poor old England endeavoring to reclaim his American children and therefore is England marred and forced to go with a staff.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Baltimore Town was more than a diverse and pre-industrial port town that sat on the Patapsco River. It had numerous sentiments, ranging from the pro-revolutionary, some of which were militant in their beliefs, to support for the British Crown. This article continues the series about Baltimore Town by focusing on the town’s political climate in 1776. You can read our other posts about Baltimore during the Revolutionary War period here.

The structures governing the town’s 6,700 inhabitants included a board of commissioners which were handpicked by the general assembly in Annapolis, a development which irked Baltimoreans. [1] This was countered by a powerful alliance between merchants and mechanics on efforts for increased local independence for the town and united in the town’s Whig Club. [2] The Baltimore Whig Club was an organization fanatically dedicated to the revolutionary cause and made up of officers of the First Maryland Regiment, mechanics and merchants. Ultimately, inhabitants of Baltimore Town were allowed to vote for representatives of Baltimore County in the Convention of Maryland. [3] Demands for local independence were so strong that state elites gave the town two seats in the assembly, just like the city of Annapolis. [4]

While Baltimore was a “Whig stronghold” and the First Maryland regiment was also stationed in the town, like Annapolis, there were numerous differences. [5] Annapolis, within the rich Anne Arundel County, had a established planter gentry and served as a huge marketing center for the state’s agriculture. [6] The Revolutionary War gave the merchant community an advantage since it became a distribution center for military supplies, and an armed camp, with troops stationed in the city throughout the war. [7] By 1776, the merchants allied with the British Crown had left or were pushed out, leaving Annapolis to give determined and concentrated support to the revolutionary cause. [8]

Baltimore and Annapolis had a feud which was not healed by 1776. For instance, Baltimoreans were mad that the state assembly perceived them as a backwater village.[9] Relatively, Annapolis had a higher level of affluence than Baltimore and not only were merchants “flush with wartime profits” by the end of the war but the city’s maritime culture prospered. [10]  In this commercial and bustling port city, delegates, as part of the Convention of Maryland, met and declared that Marylanders have “no security for their lives or liberties” under the rule of the British Crown. [11]

The Whig Club, which absorbed and represented much of the pro-revolutionary sentiment, was not the only organization with same sentiment in town, or even the first. For example, the Sons of Liberty existed in the town at the same time. [12] As for the Whig Club, its activities ended in April 1777, but it became a manifestation of a new order in Baltimore and set the stage for the post-war environment.

In 1775, the precursor to the club was created by town mechanics. These mechanics were skilled laborers in the clothing, construction, food, and shipbuilding trades. [13] The group was called the Baltimore Mechanical Volunteers. It was the descendant of the Baltimore Mechanical Company, the “closest thing that Baltimore had to representative town government” in the 1760s. [14] The Volunteers was an organization which allowed mechanics to gain confidence in themselves, “their abilities to command and their right to be heard” in the political scene in Baltimore Town. [15]

These Volunteers transformed again as the war progressed forward. In 1775, Baltimoreans proudly organized a Baltimore Mechanical Volunteer Company, a group of militia to defend the town in case of a British invasion, and many of the company’s members were mechanics themselves. [16] This not only politicized the town’s mechanics but the company provided many of the officers who later became part of the Baltimore Whig Club. [17] Later in the war, Baltimorean mechanics also fought as part of the Continental Army.

There were also sentiments favoring the British Crown despite the strong bloc of revolutionary sentiment. Even David McMechen, a member of the town’s Whig Club and a soldier in the First Maryland Regiment, wrote in 1776 that he could not “stay in such a violent place” as Baltimore since he had “too many enemies.” [18]

It is interesting that McMechen said this because in late 1776, supporters of the Crown took up arms after being harassed by the Baltimore Whig Club. [19] British supporters were pushed back until they received support from “the town’s free Negroes who offered protection in their quarters,” and they remained there until they could depart secretly and safely to New York. [20] Still, McMechen could be partially correct. In July 1776, Samuel Purviance, an eminent merchant, wrote that restrictions on trade with Britain were viewed less favorably in Baltimore County, which the town was then part of, than elsewhere. [21]

In the early months of 1777, Baltimore was shaken by disruptions to public order. On January 11, Captain Alexander Furnival complained that his soldiers, including William Grimes, had the “hard duty” of keeping guard in Baltimore Town “over the public Stores,” meaning supplies. [22] As a result, some of the local militia were used to take the place of Furnival’s men. Seven days later, the Baltimore County’s Committee of Observation ordered that the artillery companies commanded by Nathaniel Smith and Alexander Furnival, and William Galbraith’s Company of militia in the Baltimore Town Battallion be put on guard to preserve stability in the town. [23] The Committee gave these companies the duty of ending “all Riots and Tumults within the said County, or Baltimore Town” if necessary. [24] Around this same time, three soldiers of Smith’s Company, two of whom were named David Welsh and a drummer named Harry, searched the house of a wealthy merchant, who favored favoring the British Crown, named Melchior Keener. [25]

In line with the tactics used by militant revolutionaries in the town, the soldiers allegedly came in with muskets and bayonets drawn, searching the house in a “Riotous manner, and were guilty of divers irregularities.” [26] Not long after, the Council of Safety wrote to the Committee, describing the following:

“We are much concerned that we have cause again to trouble you on behalf of Melchior Keener, who hath lately been very ill used as he alleges, by some Soldiers of Capt. Nathl Smith’s  Company, and others who came without any authority or war- rant that he knows of, to search his house, and committed divers irregularities, two of the Soldiers were David Welch [or Welsh] and Harry the drummer…the Whig club…had no hand in this riot. We wrote to Capt Smith, and request you would with his assistance inquire into the affair and see that the peace is preserved. If Keener be guilty of any offence, let him be prosecuted according to law…We must observe once for all that mobbing men of doubtful principles is not the way to gain friends to the cause of America…What you tell us of the people framing a petition to Lord Howe and the Riots complained of in Baltimore Town have induced the Council of Safety to pass an order…inclosed to you and to each of the Captains.” [27]

While David Welsh’s name does not reappear in Volume 16, it is likely that he is the same as David Walsh, one of the 74 enlisted men who said they were committed to defending “libertys of the country.” [28]

Keener, president of the Baltimore Mechanical Company before the war, had experienced similar treatment. In the fall of 1776, The Whig Club had branded him a traitor and faced with their threats, Keener fulfilled their demands, returning to the town that December. Keener was not the only one threatened in this blazon manner. In March 1777, William Goddard, a well-off printer who rhetorically battled with the Whig Club, was “forcibly haled out of his own House and taken down the street to Mr. Rusk’s Tavern” by a pro-revolutionary mob. [29] The militia of William Galbraith, who were supposed to stop this, allying themselves with these militant revolutionaries, who were part of the town’s Whig Club.

In this contentious environment in Baltimore, the Continental Congress, still sitting in the town, ordered that signed copies of the Declaration of Independence be printed. These copies were printed by publisher and bookseller Mary Katherine Goddard and distributed across the thirteen colonies. The political climate in Baltimore was undoubtedly lively despite the disappearance of the Whig Club in mid-1777. For example, the mechanics, who had worked with the Whig Club, were forming a “new collective identity.” [30]

As the war continued, Baltimore Town changed with the establishment of a new political order, and gained an important economic position, which situated it well in the postwar environment.

Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.


Notes

[1] Charles G. Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore: Workers and Politics in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1812 (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 4, 10.

[2] Ibid, 11; Paul Kent Walker, ‘Business and commerce in Baltimore on the eve of independence,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 71, no. 3, fall 1976. pp. 296, 300-301; Tina M. Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ American Artisans: Crafting Social Identity, 1750-1830, ed. Howard C. Rock, Paul A. Gilje and Robert Asher (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995), 22-23.

[3] Robert Purviance, A Narrative of Events Which Occurred in Baltimore Town During the Revolutionary War (Baltimore: Jos. Robinson, 1849), 43.

[4] Steffen, 10-11, 72.

[5] Purviance, 61; Keith Mason, “Localism, Evangelicalism, and Loyalism: The Sources of Discontent in the Revolutionary Chesapeake.” The Journal of Southern History 56, no. 1 (1990): 24.

[6] Alice Hanson Jones. Wealth Estimates for the Southern Colonies About 1770 (Chicago: Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians, 1973), 34; Steffen, 9, 122; Edward C. Papenfuse. In Pursuit of Profit: The Annapolis Merchants in the Era of the American Revolution, 1763-1805 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1975), 6. It is also worth noting that in 1776, there was a large amount of British-held debt in Maryland as Papenfuse notes on pages 40-41.

[7] Papenfuse, 2, 78, 80, 86, 83; Rosemary F. Williams, Maritime Annapolis: A History of Watermen, Sails & Midshipmen (London: The History Press, 2009), 24; Elihu S. Riley, “The Ancient City”: History of Annapolis, in Maryland (Annapolis: Record Printing Office, 1887), 182. On July 10th, six companies of the first regiment of Maryland troops commanded by Col. Smallwood headed up the Chesapeake Bay and were joined by three companies in the same regiment stationed in Baltimore.

[8] Papenfuse, 50-51; Williams, 88; Riley, 165.

[9] Steffen, 10, 24, 60, 63.

[10] Papenfuse, 2.

[11] “A Declaration of the Delegates of Maryland July 6,” July 7, 1776, Maryland Journal Vol. III, issue 135, Baltimore, Maryland, pp. 539.

[12] Steffen, 66.

[13] Ibid, xiii, 14, 27, 95-96, 112, 171. Most of the mechanics were propertyless. Like other laborers, mechanics were divided by class position, with some with more wealth than others.

[14] Ibid, 53-54, 57, 171.

[15] Ibid, 53. It is not known if the mechanics, rejected the “selfish principles of corrupt oligarchy” as strongly as the mechanics in the city of New York in June 1776 as noted in the Address of the Mechanics of New York City (June 14, 1776) to the Colonial Congress Principles and Acts of the Revolution in America (Reprint, ed. Hezekiah Miles, New York: A.S. Barnes & Co. Publishers, 1876), 176. In later years, the Volunteers would be a militia unit that defended Baltimore from British invasion during the War of 1812 as noted by the National Park Service, the Historical Marker Database, and other sources. There were other companies of the same name in the 1820s and 1840s. They also were well-honored enough to be mentioned in laws passed by the General Assembly in 1792, 17931797 along with laws passed in 1758, and in 1768.

[16] Ibid, 61.

[17] Ibid, 61, 63, 66, 69. Apparently, some Baltimoreans went further, taking matters into their own hands, possibly engaging in acts of violence, since they felt “pinned between a tyrannical [British] government abroad and a submissive one” in the state itself.

[18] Dunlap’s Maryland Gazette Annapolis, July 9, 1776 Vol. II, issue LXII, pp. 3. For these reasons and others, there was a new police force, made up of adult males, in Baltimore created around the same time which had night watchpersons to preserve “the good order and peace” (Clinton McCabe. History of the Baltimore Police Department (Baltimore: Allied Printers, 1907), 15-16).

[19] Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension: Economics, Politics and the Revolution in Maryland (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973), 184.

[20] Ibid. John C. Rainbolt adds on page 435 of his “A Note on the Maryland Declaration of Rights and Constitution of 1776” (Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 66, no. 4 (Winter 1971)) that later on in 1776 the committee pushing for independence removed a section from the Maryland bill of rights which made a declaration against the slave trade, proving that there was greater reception for newer political values than “racial and religious values of the enlightenment.” This was likely influenced by the fact that the Black community on the Eastern Shore, thanks to Dunmore’s Proclamation, allied with those favoring the British Crown, participating in an insurrection that was put down by “organized military force” (Hoffman, 184-185). As  Donald Marguand Dozer put it in Portrait of the Free State, “in Baltimore…the Whig Club assumed the authority of government and drove the Tories out of Town” (pp. 259). Other writers claim their were “battles” in Baltimore between the Whig Club and “armed loyalists” but never explain if these battles were ideological or pitched street fights (Robert J. Brugger, Maryland: A Middle Temperament, 1634 – 1980, 123).

[21] Purviance, 61.

[22] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 40, 41.

[23] Heitman, 340, 505; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 363, 384; Steffen, 70, 72.

[24] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 58. By August of that year, there is still discussions of whether supplies can be left in Baltimore Town safely “or removed to the Fort” (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 325). The worries about security in Baltimore continued to even December 1777 (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 436).

[25] Steffen, 60, 69.

[26] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 58.

[27] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 59, 60.

[28] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 73, 74. All of these men are asking to be discharged, then re-enlist a second time as long as they receive rations they need, have higher wages, and bounty “given in other Companys.” Later on, Smith said his troops were “troublesome” but he was keeping them in order (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 139).

[29] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 89190, 225; Steffen, 65, 70-74, 90. The tavern, where Goddard was brought to “stand trial,” was owned by David Rusk who not only was committed to pro-revolutionary sentiment and a member of the Mechanical Company (Steffen, 71-2; George Washington McCreary, The Ancient and Honorable Mechanical Company of Baltimore (Baltimore: Kohn & Polleck, 1901), 25-26). The Whig Club also had meetings in the house of Rusk, who was a member of the club at the time. Goddard bated radicals throughout the war in his newspaper. Due to this environment it isn’t surprising that the Council of Safety said that Scottish prisoners should be removed from Baltimore as soon as possible, that a jailkeeper named Thomas Dewitt was arrested, likely because he was seen as allied with the British Crown, and that there was “an Insurrection in the upper Part of that [Baltimore] County” suppressed, in part, by Andrew Buchanan (Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, January 1-March 20, 1777 Archives of Maryland Online vol. 16, 229, 231, 246, 272, 388, 389, 390). It is important to note that Goddard is not the same as the Massachusetts printer who has the same name.

[30] Steffen, 70-71, 276. In 1800, the next organization of the mechanics dissolved and they moved into the political arena with candidates (Steffen, 172).

A “dull place” on the Patapsco: Baltimore and the Marr Brothers

Reposted from Academia.edu. I originally wrote this when I was working for the Maryland State Archives on the Finding the Maryland 400 project.

In 1776, Baltimore’s population was just over 6,000. This zoomed-in version of a map, courtesy of the Library of Congress, shows how Baltimore was portrayed in 1776.

In May 1776, the Revolution had been raging for almost a year with skirmishes between the British imperial army and the rag-tag revolutionaries. William Marr, probably with his brothers Nicholas and James, enlisted in the Continental Army in Capt. Nathaniel Ramsey’s Fifth Company, a section of the First Maryland Regiment, at Whetstone Point. [1] It was not uncommon for multiple men of the same immediate family to enlist in the Revolutionary War. Many company members were young and residents from the Baltimore area. The Fifth Company included the Marr brothers at Whetstone Point, fortified with 38 cannons and earthworks, two miles below Baltimore, to defend it from British attack. [2] They were joined by Daniel Bowie’s Fourth Company and Samuel Smith’s Eighth Company, as we have noted on this blog in the past. The Marr brothers and members of the three companies of the First Maryland Regiment would have seen a Baltimore that few of us can imagine today. This article is the beginning of a series about Baltimore.

In 1776, Baltimore was a small, pre-industrial town on the Patapsco River. It was officially called Baltimore Town until a city charter was received in 1797. [3] The Revolution caused difficulties by ending trade of exports such as wheat, flour, and tobacco with the British West Indies, but due to the war, Baltimore still grew economically and by population beyond 6,000 residents. [4] John Adams, in his stay in late 1776 and early 1777 as part of the Continental Congress, described the town as “very pretty” with revolutionary sentiments, but having dirty, mirey, and foul streets, a “monstrous price of things,” unhealthy air and a “dull place” not even worth defending from the British. [5] Still, Baltimore Town was a bustling and growing commercial port with a job market open to immigrants containing more than 500 dwellings. [6]

Baltimore Town was not as big as Philadelphia, in terms of population. However, the seventy-four enlisted soldiers in the Fifth Company would have seen people of varying backgrounds. There were people from many trades ranging from blacksmiths, shipbuilders at Fells Point, cabinetmakers, bricklayers, shoemakers, among others. [7] Many of these local artisans supplied common amenities and engaged in craft services in Baltimore and neighboring counties, working in a town economy “dominated by commerce.” [8]

Many of these craftspeople relied on unpaid labor such as indentured servants, mostly comprised of male English convicts, thousands of whom were trafficked into the Chesapeake Bay from the early 1700s up until 1776. [9] However, convict trade was brought to a halt due to ending of trade between Britain and colonial America as a result of the beginning of the Revolution. The enlistment of servants to the Continental Army created a labor shortage addressed by an increase of slave importation by master craftspeople. [10] At the time, others entering Baltimore included those of a “middling sort,” German immigrants, and Irish immigrants. [11] In describing Baltimore, John Adams once said that there were a few planters and farmers, who were also merchants, with lands cultivated and trades exercised by convicts and enslaved Blacks. [12] He further described these planters and farmers as having “little public spirit” as they held their enslaved Blacks and convicts “in contempt” and thought of themselves “a distinct order of beings.” [13] It is possible Adams thought lowly of these planters and farmers because they were not contributing to the revolutionary cause as much as he wanted. Still, the attitudes and actions of the planters and farmers was not unique to Baltimore.

Throughout and after the war, Baltimore Town continued to expand. Evidence suggests the Marr brothers likely settled in the Baltimore area, among other surviving soldiers. Meanwhile, Baltimore Town continued to grow by population and export of commodities, such as wheat, although there were price increases, and became an important market. [14] Despite increases in trade and availability of agricultural products, many of the tradespeople could not afford to become property owners as the town was building its unique identity. [15] As 1800 approached and Baltimore developed into more of a maritime city, the town continued to change demographically. [16]

– Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016

Notes

[1] National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1631, William Marr, Pension number W. 3838. courtesy of fold3.com; Order to give back pay of Nicholas Marr, William Marr’s brother, to Lewis Lee. MdHR 19970-05-01-07 [MSA S997-5-7, 1/7/3/11].

[2] Neal A. Brooks and Eric G. Rockel. A History of Baltimore County. Towson: Friends of the Towson Library, 1979. pp. 85, 101; Richard C. Medford. Book Review: ‘Mirror of Americans,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. XXXIX, March 1949, no. 1. pp. 90; S. Synthes Bradford. ‘In Fort McHenry 1814: The outworks in 1814,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 52, no. 2, June 1959. pp. 188-189, 191; Christopher T. George. ‘Book Review of Fort McHenry,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 9, no. 6, 1996. pp. 224; Hamilton Owens. Baltimore on the Chesapeake. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran and Company, 1991. pp. 85. Years later, in 1814, Whetstone Point, like during the during the Revolution, then the site of Fort McHenry (‘Notes and queries: The President visits Maryland, 1817,’ Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. XLIX, June 1954, no. 2. pp. 168), held off the British destruction of the “”very pretty town.”

[3] Charles Francis Adams. Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams. New York: Hund and Houghton, 1876. pp. 296; Charles G. Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore: Workers and Politics in the Age of Revolution, 1763-1812. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1984. pp. 3; Kathryn Allamong Jacob. ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 71, no. 3, fall 1976. pp. 263.

[4] Edward J. Perkins. The Economy of Colonial America. New York: Columbia University Press, 1988, 135; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 4; Matson, Cathy. “The Atlantic Economy in an Era of Revolutions: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 360; US Census. A Century of population growth from the first census to the twelfth. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1909. pp. 30; Paul Kent Walker, ‘Business and commerce in Baltimore on the eve of independence,’ 296; Jacob Harry Hollander. The Financial History of Baltimore vol. 20. Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1899. pp. 17; Arthur M. Schlesinger. ‘Maryland’s share in the last intercontinental war.’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VIII June 1912, no. 2. pp. 125; Sherry H. Olson. Baltimore: The Building of an American City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. pp. 15; Henry C. Ward. The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society: War and Society in the United States, 1775-85. New York: Routledge, 1999. pp. 152.

[5] Owens, Baltimore on the Chesapeake, 110; Charles Francis Adams. The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States Vol. III. Boston: Charles C. Little and James Brown, 1851. pp. 25, 198; Tina M. Sheller. ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town.’ American Artisans: Crafting Social Identity, 1750-1830 (ed. Howard C. Rock, Paul A. Gilje and Robert Asher). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995. pp. 26; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 237; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 18 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 7 March 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 9, 1777); Jacob, ‘The Women’s Lot in Baltimore Town: 1729-1797,’ 291.

[6] Lawrence C. Wroth, ‘A Maryland Merchant and his friends in 1750,’ Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. VI, Sept. 1911, no. 3. pp. 215, 219; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves,’ 18; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 20.

[7] Daniels, Christine. “”WANTED: A Blacksmith Who Understands Plantation Work”: Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810.” The William and Mary Quarterly 50, no. 4 (1993): 760-761, 766; Mariana L.R. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth Century Americas. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2008. pp. 90; Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and his wife Abigail Adams During the Revolution with a memoir of Mrs. Adams, 18; Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 10 February 1777Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 18, 25.

[8] Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 19-20.

[9] Daniels, ‘Artisans in Maryland, 1700-1810,’ 752; Morgan, Kenneth. “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775.” The William and Mary Quarterly 42, no. 2 (1985): 203, 205, 211, 217; M. Darlas. Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in Eighteenth Century Americas. pp. 40-41.

[10] Morgan, “The Organization of the Convict Trade to Maryland: Stevenson, Randolph and Cheston, 1768-1775,” 202, 222; Darlas, Black Townsmen, 75; Ward, The War for Independence and Transformation of American Society, 215; Sheller, ‘Freeman, Servants, and Slaves: Artisans and the craft structure of Revolutionary Baltimore Town,’ 27.

[11] Eugene Irving McCormac. White servitude in Maryland, 1634-1820. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1902. pp. 32; Middleton, Simon, and Smith Billy G. “Class and Early America: An Introduction.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 63, no. 2 (2006): 219; Allan Kulikoff. Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, 1986. pp. 425; Olson, Baltimore, 15.

[12] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 23, 1777).

[13] John Adams diary 28, 6 February – 21 November 1777 [electronic edition]. Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive. Massachusetts Historical Society (entry for Feb. 28, 1777).

[14] Brooks and Rockel, A History of Baltimore County, 107; Hunter, Brooke. “Wheat, War, and the American Economy during the Age of Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly, Third Series, 62, no. 3 (2005): 510, 516, 522, 524; Cometti, Elizabeth. “Inflation in Revolutionary Maryland.” The William and Mary Quarterly 8, no. 2 (1951): 230; George W. Howard. The Monumental City, Its Past History and Present Resources. Baltimore: J.D. Ehlers and Co., 1873. pp. 25; Steffen, The Mechanics of Baltimore, 10-11; Olson, Baltimore, 10; Shammas, Carole. “The Space Problem in Early United States Cities.” The William and Mary Quarterly 57, no. 3 (2000): 505-506, 509.

[15] Steffen, Charles G. “Changes in the Organization of Artisan Production in Baltimore, 1790 to 1820.” The William and Mary Quarterly 36, no. 1 (1979): 103, 113.

[16] Mark N. Ozer. Baltimore: Persons and Places. Baltimore: Garden Publishing, 2013. pp. 37; Olson, Baltimore, 10.

Meloan and Slocum: Two Young Marylanders go off to war

Courtesy of this website.

In early 1776, two men enlisted as privates in Edward Veazey’s Seventh Independent Company, part of the Maryland Line: 17-year-old Solomon Slocum, a foot feet, two and half inches tall man, and 21-year-old Andrew Meloan, who was five feet, seven inches tall. [1] There is evidence asserting that Meloan was likely born in Cecil County, but for Slocum, his exact birth place is not known but he likely was born on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. [2]

Many of those in the Seventh Independent Company were recruited from Kent, Cecil, and Queen Anne counties, and were in their twenties. [3] The average age was about twenty-five, but soldiers born in British America were slightly younger than those from foreign countries. [4]

The independent companies, early in the war, had a different role than William Smallwood‘s First Maryland Regiment. They had the role of securing the Chesapeake Bay’s shoreline from British attack. Smallwood’s men, on the other hand, were raised as full-time Maryland soldiers as part of the Continental Army, and were divided between Annapolis and Baltimore. The Seventh Independent Company was stationed in Kent County’s Chestertown and on Kent Island in Queen Anne County. [5] During this time, Veazey was uneasy that his company did not receive “arms nor ammunition” until June. [6]

While the independent companies were originally intended to defend Maryland, three of them accompanied the First Maryland Regiment when it marched to New York in July 1776. The transfer of the independent companies to the Continental Army showed that Maryland was more than willing to do its part to recruit the men needed for the revolutionary cause. [7] The independent companies and the First Maryland Regiment arrived in New York in early August, with the Battle of Brooklyn set between the Continental Army and the British Army, joined by their Hessian allies.

Meloan and Slocum served with his company at the Battle of Brooklyn in late August 1776. Apart with the companies of Daniel Bowie and Peter Adams, which suffered heavy casualties, sixty-eight percent of Veazey’s company were killed, wounded or captured. Specifically, Captain Veazey died on the battlefield while Second Lieutenant Samuel Turbett Wright and Third Lieutenant Edward De Coursey were captured. As a result of Veazey’s death, Lieutenant William Harrison took charge of the company. After the battle, only about 36 men remained out of the original force of over 100. [8] The loss of life confirmed the assessment of the British Parliament’s Annual Register which described how “almost a whole regiment from Maryland…of young men from the best families in the country was cut to pieces” even as the battle brought the men of the Maryland 400 together. [9]

The Battle of Brooklyn, the first large-scale battle of the war, fits into the larger context of the Revolutionary War. If the Maryland Line had not stood and fought the British, enabling the rest of the Continental Army to escape, then the Continental Army would been decimated, resulting in the end of the Revolutionary War. This heroic stand gave the regiment the nickname of the Old Line and those who made the stand in the battle are remembered as the Maryland 400.

By the spring of 1777, the command of the Seventh Independent Company was in disarray since Wright and De Coursey were prisoners, Veazey had been killed, and Harrison had resigned. [10] As a result, the company, among with the other independent companies, became part of the Second Maryland Regiment.

Both Meloan and Slocum survived the Battle of Brooklyn and were not taken prisoner. In the fall of 1776 and early 1777, they joined other Marylanders at the battles of White Plains, Trenton, Princeton, and elsewhere. After this point, both of them re-enlisted. Slocum, on January 25, 1777, reenlisted in the Fifth Maryland Regiment as a private, only staying until May 10, when he was discharged. [11] Likely not long after this, he enlisted in the Second Maryland Regiment for a three-year term as a private. [12] He served in a company commanded by Maryland 400 veteran John Hardman, until the fall of 1779. [13] In early 1780, he re-enlisted. During his military service, he was sick multiple times, including one time in the early spring of 1778 and another time in early 1779 which required his hospitalization. [14]

As for Meloan, on January 10, 1777, he enlisted as a private in Captain Samuel T. Wright’s company of the Second Maryland Regiment and had the duty as a waggoner for a short time. [15] On February 1, 1778, Meloan became a corporal in the Second Maryland Regiment. He stayed in the regiment until he was discharged on January 10, 1780. [16] Meloan fought at Staten Island (1777), Brandywine (1777), Germantown (1777), Monmouth (1778), and Stony Point (1779).

As a non-commissioned officer, Meloan would have shouldered some of the responsibility for ensuring order in camp and on the battlefield. The job of the corporals was to instruct their troops, keep order in their regiments, including breaking up disagreements between soldiers, and taking roll call every morning. [17] If corporals fell down on their tasks, they were “severly punished.” [18] During battles, corporals were responsible for keeping the companies lined up and together so they could effectively fight against British or forces loyal to the Crown.

Coming back to Slocum, in the summer of 1779, along with Maryland 400 veterans Patrick McNemar and Henry Mitchel, he served in the Corps of Light Infantry. [19] This was an elite, agile unit developed for quick military response. [20] On July 16, 1779, the light infantry stormed the British fort at Stony Point, on the west side of the Hudson River. [21] According to a recollection from Connecticut corporal Stephen Army, the army crossed the river “in the night with muffled oars to prevent the British on board of some English ships of war” stationed nearby from hearing their movements. [22] Once on land, they engaged in a surprise nightime bayonet attack, reportedly without loaded guns, with men chopping through the enemy’s half-completed fortifications. After the battle ended, over 500 British soldiers were captured, and the Continentals took possession of the fort.

After September 1780, Slocum deserted to the British and then re-joined the Second Maryland Regiment not long after, purportedly as a spy. [23] In the spring of 1781, the Continental Army tried Slocum, convicted him of spying and deserting. On March 25, he was executed. Sergeant-Major William Seymour of the Delaware Regiment wrote:

“On the twenty-fifth instant was tried and found guilty one Solomon Slocum, of the Second Maryland Battalion, for desertion to the enemy, joining with them, and coming in as a spy in our camp; when agreeable to his sentence he was hanged on a tree by the roadside in full view of all that passed by.” [24]

When Slocum was hanged, he was only age 22. No other information about Slocum’s life is known. Meloan had a much different life after he was discharged from his military service in January 1780 as noted earlier.

In the years following, Meloan settled down in Maryland. In 1781 or 1782 he married a woman in her late twenties, named Rachel Zilerfrow, in Cecil County. [25] This was Rachel’s second marriage, as she had three children with her first husband, John Zilerfrow. Through the following years, Andrew and Rachel would have eight children: Permelia (1782-1839), Thomas (b. 1784), Elizabeth (1786- 1869), Andrew Jr. (b. 1788), Izabel (b. 1790), Obediah (1792-1859), Alexander (1794-1798), and Perry O. (1797-1833). [26] They lived in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina in the 1790s, and Meloan owned a 60 acre plot of land, near McDowell Creek, by June 1799. [27] By the early 1800s, they moved to Kentucky.

In 1810, Meloan, Rachel, and their children, were living in Montgomery County, Kentucky and were small slaveowners and farmers, owning three enslaved blacks. [28] They lived there until at least 1830 and continued to be small slaveowners. Meloan owned four enslaved blacks in 1820 and six enslaved blacks in 1830. [29] The county, during this time period, was majority white, but had a significant minority of enslaved blacks, an average of about 2,233 living in the county, from 1810 to 1830. [30] Other aspects of their lives, during this time, are not known.

Meloan and his son Obediah were active members of the Republican Party, at a time that the party was dissolving. In 1828, they signed a letter which criticized President John Quincy Adams. It was among those assembled by a member of the Republican Party and former U.S. Representative David Trimble to prove statements he had made in 1824 and 1825. [31]

Sometime after 1831, Meloan, his wife Rachel, and their children, moved across the state and were living in Murray, a town in Calloway County, Kentucky, a county of about 5,100, which was over 91 percent white. [32] Meloan applied for his Federal veterans pension in 1832, when he owned enslaved blacks, which was granted the same year. [33]

On August 14, 1834, Meloan died in Calloway County. [34] After his death, his wife, Rachel, fought for her husband’s pension money. The pension was granted, and she continued to receive it until her death on July 29, 1839. Twenty-one years after her death, her children Thomas, Elizabeth, and Obadiah applied for their father’s pension benefits. [35] At this point, these were the only children of Rachel and Meloan who were still living. By 1894, the Meloan family was still living in Calloway County on the lot that Meloan had bought years ago, and had a “burying ground” in a local cemetery in the city of Murray. [36]

Notes

[1] This post combines sources from each of their respective biographies. Meloan was born on February 18, 1754. Since he was listed as twenty-one-year-old, this means he enlisted before his birthday in February.

[2] Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp, 1776, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, MdHR 19970-15-36/01 [MSA S997-15-36, 1/7/3/13]. Pension of Andrew Meloan, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land-Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1709, pension number W27972. Courtesy of Fold3.com. Since Meloan he enlisted in Cecil County, it is possible he was born in the same county. His name is sometimes spelled Melone, Malone, Maloan, Melawn, Milean, Meloon, and Miloan. Slocum’s is last name is also spelled Slocome.

[3] Mark Andrew Tacyn, “’To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 24-25, 97; Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp.

[4] For more information, see “Demographics in the First Maryland Regiment” on the Finding the Maryland 400 research blog.

[5] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July 7-December 31, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 12, 4; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 11, 245, 272, 547, Tacyn, 33-34.

[6] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 11, 318, 468; Tacyn, 37, 39.

[7] Arthur Alexander, “How Maryland Tried to Raise Her Continental Quotas.” Maryland Historical Magazine 42, no. 3 (1947), 187-188, 196.

[8] Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, p. 92, From Fold3.com; Tacyn, 98; “Mortuary Notice,” Salem Gazette, Salem, Massachusetts, March 1, 1833, Vol. XI, issue 18, p. 3.

[9] Tacyn, 4.

[10] List of Regular Officers by Chamberlaine, December 1776, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, MdHR 4573, Liber 12, p. 66 [MSA S989-17, 1/6/4/5].

[11] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 18, 290.

[12] Service card of Solomon Slocum, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, National Archives, NARA M881, Record Group 93, Roll 401. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Muster rolls of the Second Maryland Regiment, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, NARA M246, Record Group 93, Roll 0033, Folder 15. Courtesy of Fold3.com.

[13] Service card of Solomon Slocum.

[14] Service card of Solomon Slocum; Muster rolls of the Second Maryland Regiment, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, NARA M246, Record Group 93, Roll 0033, Folder 15. Courtesy of Fold3.com.

[15] Pension of Andrew Meloan; Service Card of Andrew Melawn, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, Record Group 93, Roll 0400; Second Maryland Regiment, 1778, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783; NARA M246, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Record Group 93. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[16] Service Card of Andrew Melawn; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 18, 138, 405; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1789-1793, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 72, 239; Pension of Andrew Meloan; Second Maryland Regiment, 1778, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783; NARA M246, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records, Record Group 93. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. In his pension application, Meloan said he left the service in 1780, meaning that Andrew Mallone who enlisted in the Fifth Maryland Regiment in 1781 was not him.

[17] Frederick Stueben, Regulations for Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, Part I (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1779), 6, 82, 98-100.

[18] Stueben, 72.

[19] Service card of Solomon Slocum; Muster rolls of the Second Maryland Regiment, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, NARA M246, Record Group 93, Roll 0033, Folder 15. Courtesy of Fold3.com.

[20] Todd W. Braisted, “Light Infantry Never Surrender!,” Journal of the American Revolution, May 19, 2015. Accessed November 11, 2016; John W. Wright, “The Corps of Light Infantry in the Continental Army,” The American Historical Review 31:3 (Apr. 1926), 455-457.

[21] Tacyn, 5, 173, 186, 196-197, 205-209, 210, 295, 311; Pension of David Moore, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1753. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Samuel Ferguson, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1038. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Robert Humphries, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1367. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of John Trotter, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2414. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Abram Acherson, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 6. Courtesy of Fold3.com; David Schuyler, Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909 (London: Cornell University Press, 2012), 154; Joseph Plumb Martin, Ordinary Courage: The Revolutionary War Adventures of Joseph Plumb Martin (ed. James Kirby Martin, New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2013), 107; Jeremy Black, Crisis of Empire: Britain and America in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Continuum, 2008), 160; Michael Schellhammer, George Washington and the Final British Campaign for the Hudson River, 1779 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2012), 138-153; George C. Daughan, If by Sea: The Forging of the American Navy – From the Revolution to the War of 1812 (New York: Basic Books, 2011, paperback), 191; Arthur R. Bauman, General “Mad” Anthony Wayne & The Battle of Fallen Timbers: A Look at Some Key Events in the Life and Times of General Wayne (Blommington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2010), 4-6; Ithiel Town, Detail of Some Particular Services Particular Services (Beford, PA: Applewood Books, 1835), 88. Reportedly Anthony Wayne, leading the attack, told George Washington, that he would “storm hell” if Washington planned the attack.

[22] Pension of Stephen Avery, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 96. Courtesy of Fold3.com. The wife of Virginia soldier David Moore, Jane, recalled her husband saying that “they were made to go into battle with unloaded guns” made him suspect that was only what he and his fellow soldiers were told.

[23] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 18, 162.

[24] Charles Patrick Neimeyer, America Goes to War: A Social History of the Continental Army (New York: New York University Press, 1996), 211; Robert Kirkwood, The journal and order book of Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Delaware regiment of the continental line Part I: A journal of the Southern campaign, 1780-1782 (Wilmington: The Historical Society of Delaware, 1990), 15; Hugh F. Rankin, The North Carolina Continentals (Chapel Hill: Univesity of North Carolina Press, 2005, updated), 314; Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard, Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse (Chapel Hill: Univesity of North Carolina Press, 2009), 179; William Seymour, “A Journal of the Southern Expedition, 1780-1783 (concluded).” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 7, no. 4 (1883): 379.

[25] Pension of Andrew Meloan; Parish register 1694-1784, St. Stephen’s Church Collection, p. 131 [MSA SC 2507-1-1, 0/8/4/14]; A Calendar of Delaware Wills New Castle County 1682-1800 (New York, NY, USA: Frederick H. Hitchcock, 1911), 87; Jacob Ozier as a witness, 1796, Delaware, Land Records, 1677–194, p. 346, Recorder of Deeds, New Castle County, RG 2555, Subgroup 000, Series 011. Delaware Public Archives, Dover, Delaware. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Rachel’s maiden name, before her first husband was Ozier. She was born on May 23, 1753 in Cecil County’s St. Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Church in North Sassafras Parish to John Ozier, who died in 1777, and Sarah. She also had a brother named Jacob Ozier, born on November 22, 1754, who was living in Delaware in 1796. Her Find A Grave says she was born in 1763 but this is clearly a mistake.

[26] Pension of Andrew Meloan; Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky. Courtesy of Ancestry.com. Permelia later married Robert Caldwell, Obediah married Emily W. Shruggs, and Elizabeth married Andrew Lackridge Jr. Meloan’s son.

[27] “Clarification,” Murray Ledger & Times, May 31, 2006. Accessed October 11, 2016; Grant for Andrew Meloan, June 2, 1799, grant number 154, book 105, page 31, North Carolina Land Grants, Microfilm publication, 770 rolls, North Carolina State Archives. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[28] Census for Montgomery, Kentucky, 1810, Third Census of the United States, NARA M252, Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 7, Page 365. Courtesy of Ancestry.com;

[29] Census for Montgomery, Kentucky, 1820, Fourth Census of the United States, NARA M33, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll M33_25, Page 255, 257. Courtesy of Ancestry.com; Census for Montgomery, Kentucky, 1830, Fifth Census of the United States, NARA M19, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 40, Page 17. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

[30] Census of 1830 for Montgomery County, Universe: Total Population, Social Explorer Dataset, Social Explorer. Accessed October 11, 2016; Census of 1820 for Montgomery County, Universe: Total Population, Social Explorer Dataset, Social Explorer. Accessed October 11, 2016; Census of 1810 for Montgomery County, Universe: Total Population, Social Explorer Dataset, Social Explorer. Accessed October 11, 2016. Data shows the number of enslaved blacks in the county growing from 1810 to 1830.

[31] “From the Kentucky Argus: David Trimble,” United States Telegraph, Washington, D.C., October 27, 1828, Vol. III, issue 125, p. 2; United States Telegraph, Washington, D.C., October 25, 1828, p. 4.

[32] Census of 1830 for Calloway County, Total Population (SE:T025_001), Social Explorer Dataset, Social Explorer. Accessed October 11, 2016.

[33] Pension of Andrew Meloan.

[34] Record of Andrew Melone, 1834, United States Revolutionary War Pension Payment Ledgers, 1818-1872, Kentucky, United States, NARA T718, roll 8; FHL microfilm 1,319,388, p. 242. Courtesy of Familysearch.org; Record for Andrew Melone, Final Payment Vouchers Index for Military Pensions, 1818-1864, Index to Selected Final Payment Vouchers, 1818-1864, National Archives, Record Group 217, roll: box06_00008. Courtesy of Fold3.com.

[35] Pension of Andrew Meloan. Obediah, Andrew’s son, was the administrator of Rachel’s estate after her death.

[36] Will of P.O Meloan, 1894, Kentucky County, District and Probate Courts, Calloway, Kentucky, Wills, Vol D-G, 1885-1961, p. 108-110. Courtesy of Ancestry.com.

 

“Flecking the hedges with red”: Palmer’s Ballad on the Maryland 400

Editor’s note: this is an article I posted on September 28, 2016 on Finding the Maryland 400. Reposted from Academia.edu.
A photograph of John Williamson Palmer who wrote ‘The Maryland Battalion’

In the past, we have written about poems and songs relating to the Maryland 400. [1] They were celebrated years after and during the Revolutionary War, with newspapers often containing poems and songs. Such poems included one about William Sterrett in 1776 and a song by Tom Wisner titled “The Old Line.” Poems and ballads, which are narrative poems, not only appeared in newspapers but also in books. This post analyzes the 1901 ballad titled “The Maryland Battalion in the Battle of Long Island” and its author. [2]

The ballad’s author was a native Baltimorean named John Williamson Palmer. He was a physician by profession, but later became a journalist, and served as a New York Tribune correspondent in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. [3] He traveled across the world to India and elsewhere in East Asia, worked for the East India Company, and warned acclaim after contributing to numerous periodicals. [4] During the Civil War, Palmer wrote the well-known ballad titled “Stonewall Jackson’s Way” during the Battle of Antietam in 1862. [5] This ballad became one of the South’s most popular lyrics. This is not surprising because Palmer joined the Confederate Army and later served on the staff of John C. Breckinridge, the Secretary of War of the Confederacy. [6] After the Civil War, he published a book of folk songs and numerous other books of note. He had become, as his former employer, the New York Tribune, called him, “a veteran balladist” who will “be long remembered” because of his good verse. [7] By the early twentieth century, some claimed that he become a writer with “vigorous lyric faculty.” [8]

“The Maryland Battalion” was originally printed in a 1902 book titled Every Day in the Year. The book was a “poetical anthology” which commemorated “the most striking events in history” and the men and women who “have left an imprint on their day and generation.” [9] The ballad was printed with an introduction making it clear it was about the Battle of Brooklyn. [10] His ballad fits with those he wrote about Stonewall Jackson and the Battle of the San Jacinto in 1836 by exhibiting a patriotic theme, from his point of view. [11]

The text of this ballad is reprinted below [12]:

Spruce Macaronis, and pretty to see,
Tidy and dapper and gallant were we;
Blooded fine gentlemen, proper and tall,
Bold in a fox-hunt and gay at a ball;
Prancing soldados so martial and bluff,
Billets for bullets, in scarlet and buff—
But our cockades were clasped with a mother’s low prayer
And the sweethearts that braided the sword-knots were
fair [13]

There was grummer of drums humming hoarse in the hills,
And the bugles sang fanfares down by the mills,
By Flatbush [14] the bagpipes were droning amain,
And keen cracked the rifles in Martense’s lane [15];
For the Hessians were flecking the hedges with red [16],
And the grenadiers’ tramp marked the roll of the dead

Three to one, flank and rear, flashed the files of St. George [17],
The fierce gleam of their steel as the glow of a forge.
The brutal boom-boom of their swart cannoneers
Was sweet music compared with the taunt of their cheers—
For the brunt of their onset, our crippled array,
And the light of God’s leading gone out in the fray.

Oh, the rout on the left and the tug on the right!
The mad plunge of the charge and the wreck of the flight!
When the cohorts of Grant [18] held stout Stirling [19] at strain,
And the mongrels of Hesse [20] went tearing the slain;
When at Freeke’s Mill the flumes and the sluices ran red,
And the dead choked the dike and the marsh choked the dead!

“Oh, Stirling, good Stirling, how long must we wait?
Shall the shout of your trumpet unleash us too late?
Have you never a dash for brave Mordecai Gist [21]
With his heart in his throat, and his blade in his fist?
Are we good for no more than to prance in a ball,
When the drums beat the charge and the clarions call?”

Tralára! Tralára! Now praise we the Lord
For the clang of His call and the flash of His sword!
Tralára! Tralára! Now forward to die;
For the banner, hurrah! and for sweethearts, good-by!
“Four hundred wild lads!” May be so. I’ll be bound
’T will be easy to count us, face up, on the ground.
If we hold the road open, though Death take the toll,
We’ll be missed on parade when the States call the roll—
When the flags meet in peace and the guns are at rest,
And fair Freedom is singing Sweet Home in the West. [22]

At the time, the ballad was positively received. Noted writer Rossiter Johnson said it reminded him of classic lyrics of another balladist, while the Chicago Tribune said that the ballad, along with his other writings, had become “familiar to the American people.” [23] The St. Louis Republic called it “blood-stirring” and the Baltimore Sun said it had no less “dash and ring” than his other ballads and would, which “rouse the blood to action and enthusiasm.” [24] Acclaimed poet Charles D. Roberts even praised it, calling it a “splendid piece of work, inevitable and unforgettable.” This flattery is not surprising because the ballad was written in style of that time by catering to a Victorian appetite for heroes and legends and preserving the Maryland 400’s story, while cultivating Maryland pride.

Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.


Notes

[1] Another post on this blog also put the ‘Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’ into context as it relates to Maryland.

[2] Alan, a volunteer at the Baltimore County Historical Society, gave me a copy of this ballad this summer when I made a trip to this historical society. In order to be consistent, the word ballad is used even though some refer to it as a poem.

[3] Henry E. Shepard, The Representative Authors of Maryland: From the Earliest Time to the Present Day With Biographical Notes and Comments Upon Their Work (New York: Whitehall Publishing Company, 1911), 100; American History Told by Contemporaries: Welding of the Nation 1845-1900 (ed. Albert Bushnell Hart, Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific, 2002, reprint of 1921 edition), 282.

[4] Rand Richards. Mud, Blood, and Gold: San Francisco in 1849 (San Francisco: Heritage House Publishers, 2008), 201; Shepard, 100; American History Told by Contemporaries282.

[5] Richards, 86, 101; Southern Life in Southern Literature: Selections of Representative Prose and Poetry (ed. Maurice Garland Fulton, New York: Ginn and Economy, 1917), 259-261.

[6] American History Told by Contemporaries, 282; “Words of the Hour”: A New Anthology of Civil War Poetry (ed. Faith Barrett and Cristanne Miller, Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2005), 389; Herman Melville, Correspondence (Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1993), 516; Women reading Shakespeare 1660-1900: An anthology of criticism (ed. Ann Thompson and Sasha Roberts, New York: Manchester University Press, 1997), 110; Shakespeare: The Critical Tradition. The Merchant of Venice (ed. William Baker and Brian Vickers, New York: Thoemes Continuum, 2005), 86; Shepard, 100-101; Southern Life in Southern Literature, 259. Before the war, in 1855, he married Henrietta Lee, a Baltimorean who was a prolific writer and reader of Shakespeare. Palmer also had correspondence with the acclaimed novelist Herman Melville after the Civil War.

[7] “A Southern Poet.” The Evangelical Episcopalian. Vol. 14, no. 1. March 1902. pp. 464; Every Day in the Year: A Poetical Epitome of the World’s History (ed. James L. Ford and Mary K. Ford, New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1902), v. Others called him “one of America’s real poets,” before his death in 1906.

[8] John Wanamaker, Book News: A Monthly Survey of General Literature. Vol. 19 (Philadelphia: John Wanamaker, 1901), 684.

[9] Every Day in the Year, 289.

[10] Ibid, 133, 157-158.

[11] Poetry of the People (ed. Charles Mills Gayley and Martin C. Flaherty, Boston: Ginn & Company Publishers, 1904), 238-239; The Home Book of Verse: American and English 1580-1918 Third Edition (ed. Burton Egbert Stevenson, New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1918), 2429; Index of Current Literature (ed. Edward J. Wheeler). Vol. 40. New York: The Current Literature Publishing Company, Jan-June 1906, 449-450.

[12] The tune of this ballad is not known.

[13] “Scarlet and buff” is a reference to the uniforms Smallwood’s soldiers and said to have worn. In actuality they did not wear these uniforms. Instead, they wore white linen or hunting shirts, leather breeches, leather belts, stockings, leather shoes with buckles, and felt hats.

[14] General Sullivan was driven back by the Hessians, hired soldiers fighting for the British, and flanked by Clinton’s forces in Flatbush.

[15] Martenese’s lane was a road that was the Greenwood cemetery’s southern border in Brooklyn

[16] As a private of the Maryland  William McMillian put it in his description of the battle, “We were surrounded by Healanders [Scottish Highlanders] on one side, Hessians on the other.”

[17] The “files of St. George” are British soldiers.

[18] A British general named James Grant commanded the left wing during the battle.

[19] Lord Stirling, or William Alexander, was a veteran of the Seven Years War, and was a brigadier general during the battle.

[20] Refers to Hessians.

[21] Mordecai Gist was a native Baltimorean and commanded the Marylanders during the Battle.

[22] The last lines are saying that people should fight at any cost for their freedom and is challenging readers to fight and not be weak.

[23] The Missionary Review of the World vol. 24, part 2. Funk & Wagnalls, 1901, 160.

[24] The Missionary Review of the World, 115, 160, 181-182; The Literary Digest Vol. XXII, no. 25. June 22, 1901, 1A2.