“A Gentleman of Maryland”: the short life of Edward Giles

Focus on what Christopher Weeks argues is the land within Harford Lower Hundred (“all the land drained by Romney Creek, Bush River, and Cranberry Run”), using an 1858 “map of Harford Co., Maryland.” Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Edward Giles was a gentleman that was different from the other officers of the Extra Regiment, who marched Southward just like him. After all, Edward had ancestors who were immigrants to Massachusetts in the 1630s and some of the “earliest settlers of Baltimore County,” specifically to “Old Baltimore.” His short life is worth noting, with its twists and turns, as it tells a story which has never been fully told in print.

In the final years of military service: 1780-1782

Edward was a major in the Extra Regiment as noted by fellow officer Theodore Middleton and a soldier named Giles Thomas. Remaining records of the Maryland Line would also show his military service within the regiment. [1] He held many other military positions. He was reportedly a captain in Hazen’s (2nd Canadian) regiment from 1778-1779, a major and aide-to-camp of General Morgan from 1779 to 1781, as he would note in a January 1781 letter. He was even made Brevet Major in Continental Army in March 1781 in honor of his role in the Battle of Cowpens, which he seems to have reported to Thomas Jefferson in a glowing account. [2] Until the close of the war, he served as an aide-to-camp of General Smallwood until the close of the war. Reportedly he also commanded Virginia militia in December 1780. [3] He was, undoubtedly, a “prolific correspondent” on the Extra Regiment.

In 1781, the Maryland General Assembly consider raising an all-Black regiment, similar to the state’s German Regiment, but did not do so. Even so, Edward wrote to Otho Holland Williams on June 1st arguing that

I wish the [Black] regiment would be raised. I am of the opinion that the Blacks will make excellent soldiers—indeed experience proves it…As to the danger of training them to Arms—tis the Child of a distempered Imagination. There are some people who are forever frightening themselves with Bugbears of their own Creation. [4]

The following year, Edward would be elected to the Continental Congress. However, he would not attend that year possibly related to his military service, but the true reason is not known. [5] The same year he would defend Samuel Chase, who then represented Maryland in the Continental Congress, from charges that he had used “secret congressional information to corner the market on flour,” knowing that the French fleet would be arriving in Maryland. Specifically he wrote to James McHenry saying that the evidence before the Maryland General Assembly had shown Chase innocent and urged the author of the “Publius” essays to retract their charges. As a letter from Alexander Hamilton to McHenry revealed (also implied in McHenry’s letter to Hamilton earlier that year), he was Publius, which comes as no surprise. Interestingly, Hamilton was angry that Edward had become a champion of Chase:

…You know that I can have no personal enmity to him, and that considerations of public good alone dictated my attack upon his conduct and character, influenced by a persuasion produced by the strongest authorities, that he was acting a part inconsistent with patriotism, or honor… I could not refuse it to my own feelings, to make him the most explicit and complete retribution…As to the discovery of my name demanded with such preposterous vehemence, by a volunteer in the dispute, I conceive myself under no obligation to make it…I have esteemed Major [Giles] character; and am sorry for his sake that he has so indelicately entered the lists; and made himself, not only the champion of Mr. Ch——e’s innocence in the present case, but of his virtues in general, certainly at best equivocal in spite of the Major’s panygerics. He should have recollected, that by an alliance with his family, he did not ally himself with his principles; and that he degrades Mr. Ch——e, as well as commits himself by unnecessarily taking up the glove for him…an apprehension of his, or any man’s resentment is a motive incapable of operating upon me or having the least share either in the concealment of my name or in the moderate return I make to his invectives.

In sum, Hamilton is saying that Edward is using formal speech (panegyrics) to defend Chase but that by doing so, he has made himself a champion of the latter’s values. He also suggests that he is degrading Chase by doing so and standing by his side, allying with the Chase family. Hamilton then worried about people guessing his motives so he decides to keep his name hidden.

The next year, 1783, the county assessment for Harford County would note Edward’s large landholdings, living in the same county as the former commanding officer of the Extra Regiment, Alexander Lawson Smith. He would own a total of 1,401 acres in Harford Lower Hundred. These acres were parceled out into seven land tracts:

  1. 90 acre tract called Mats Island
  2. a 50 acre tract called Hog Neck
  3. a 147 acre tract called Shepherds Choice
  4. a 770 acre tract called Rumney Marsh
  5. a 28 acre tract called Shepherds Adventure
  6. a two acre tract called Minorca
  7. 314 acre tract called Atkinsons Purchase.

Soon this would all change.

The last hurrah: A trip to Bermuda

A close-up of Bermuda within Joseph Smith Speer’s 1774 map of the 13 colonies, West Indies, and Caribbean. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

On January 30, 1783, Governor William Paca and the Council of Maryland would write to Admiral Robert Digby of the Royal Navy. Guided by the “Motives of Humanity” he would describe Edward’s condition:

…Mr Edward Giles, a Gentleman of Maryland, is reduced to such a State, by a Disorder in the Breast, that his Physicians advise a Change of Climate as the only probable Means of his Recovery. As he is too Weak to undertake a long Voyage, his Friends are extremely desirous that he should try the Salutary Air of Bermuda, and it is at their earnest Solicitations that we have the Honor to request the Favor of your Excellency’s Passport for a Vessel to carry him thither, with a Companion and two Slaves to attend him; and Provisions for the Use of the Crew and his Family. Candor requires that you should be informed, that Mr Giles has been an Officer in the American Army, and that he is, at this Time, a Delegate to Congress. We know not whether it is in your Excellency’s Department to grant Mr Giles Permission to reside in Bermuda until his Health be restored, but if it is not, we persuade ourselves, from your acknowledg’d Attention to the Rights of Humanity, that you will be so obliging as to recommend him, for this Purpose, to the Governor of the Island [William Browne].

With the above letter showing his wealth, with two enslaved Blacks and a companion (his wife?), it is partially revealing. The following day, Edward would write a letter to Washington mentioning the above letter, noting that he felt “highly obliged” and hoped he could use the latter’s influence to “obtain the Passport and Permission as soon as possible.” As he described it,

“…With your Letter please to have that of the Governor and Council transmitted. I hope the Admirals not being furnished with the name and tonnage of the Vessel and number of hands will not impede the Business. It is impossible to give him this Information accurately as the Vessell is yet to be obtained. Thus far however he may be assured, she will be chosen for her good Cabbin Accomadations and her hands will not exceed eight. I am sensible that was Admiral Digby (tho’ an Enemy) acquainted with my Situation, he would blush to throw any obstructions in my Way. Your Excellency’s Veneration for humanity fills me with undoubting hopes that you will leave no means unessayed to accomplish this interesting Business. It is the opinion of my Physicians, that the month of March and April in this Climate might so confirm my Disorder as to make it an [   ] for Life. My Fate hangs on every passing hour, a small Delay may prove fatal to my Existence. Excuse the Anxiety of an Invalid, and believe Me to be with Sentiments of real Regard”-

This desperate plea would not go unanswered by Washington. Twelve days later on February 12, Washington would remark that he had received the letter, noting that the application should have “gone thro Mr Morris as Agent of Marine” and not himself, but since a “delay in the transaction of this business might have been fatal to you.” As a result, he sent the Admiral a letter immediately, noting that any answer he receives shall be forwarded to him.

Sadly, he would not make it another month. On March 13, the Maryland Gazette would announce his death in a detailed obituary. They would describe him as a man with a “liberal education” and imbued “patriotism,” calling him a “virtuous citizen” and an “excellent young man”:

Quotes around this obituary seem to say it was reprinted from another paper which is not currently known.

Using the first line of the obituary, one can easily calculate that he died on March 10, 1783, with others coming to the same conclusion. [6]

Over 148 years later, on December 1, 1931, Samuel K. Dennis, J. Hall Pleasants, and J. M. Vincents, would write to the “gentlemen” of the Maryland Historical Society about whole episode. They would write about how the council requested that Admiral Digby, commanding the British fleet, issue a “passport to Edward Giles” who seems to have had “tuberculosis of the lungs” and noted “Giles died a week or two later before the request could be acted upon” with subsequent developments thereafter in “humane amenities…between the belligerents” when the main hostilities seemed to cease.

Beyond this, little information is known other than the fact that his death would be reported in British newspapers by June, and a possible federal veterans pension in later years. Due to his death in 1783, this means he would not be in any of the federal censuses and would have no direct federal pension records associated with him. Regardless, he would live on, in some way, shape, and form through his ancestors and scattered records in varied pensions of others.

 

Notes

[1] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 43, 234, 248, 306, 314, 341, 530; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 45, 45, 46, 100, 211, 334, 514, 541, 617; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online, Vol. 48, 98.

[2] Francis Bernard Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army During the War of the Revolution, April, 1775, to December, 1783 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1982), 248; John Thomas Scharf, History of Maryland from the Earliest Period Until the Present Day, Vol. II (Baltimore: John. B. Piet, 1879), 407-409.

[3] John Thomas Scharf, History of Maryland, 401.

[4] The Finding the Maryland 400 Project cites a letter from Major Edward Giles to Otho Holland Williams, 1 Jun 1781 within the Williams Papers, Maryland Historical Society which is quoted in Benjamin Quarles, The Negro in the American Revolution (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1961), 56-57.

[5] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005: The Continental Congress, September 5, 1774, to October 21, 1788, and the Congress of the United States, from the First Through the One Hundred Eighth Congresses, March 4, 1789, to January 3, 2005, Inclusive (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 2005), 35 or page 5 of this PDF.

[6] Scharf, History of Maryland, 436.

The post-war life of Alexander Lawson Smith, a “Harford Man”

Parts of a 1878 map of Harford County with specific emphasis on the areas of Alexander’s lands along Swan Creek (left), near Rumney Creek (middle), and on Gunpowder Neck (right). Map is courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Where we left off, the specifics of the Maryland’s Extra Regiment were outlined, with some focus on Alexander Lawson Smith, the commander of this regiment who had served in the Maryland Line since 1776. He had fought at the Battle of Fort Washington but did not proceed to Fort Pitt with riflemen in 1779, staying behind with the 4th Maryland Regiment until his resignation as a captain, was accepted by Continental Congress the same year.

In the 1790s

In the post-war period, Alexander became a co-founder of the Society of the Cincinnati. In 1792, he married Martha Griffith. Martha came from a family that descended from Wales, owning hundreds of acres and numerous enslaved Blacks and living across the state, but with strong roots in Anne Arundel County, and contributed more soldiers to revolutionary cause than any other family in the state of Maryland. [1] This is confirmed by the Assessment of 1783 showing those within the Griffith family owning over two thousand acres within Harford County, including an area named “Rumney Royal,” which would be kept in the Griffith family, a land which, would, in the coming years, be part of the story of Alexander Smith, a “Harford Man.” Reportedly, Alexander and Martha would have three children, Samuel (b. 1794), Francina Francis (1797-1860), and Martia Matilida (1799-1860)

As Alexander was settling in Harford County after the war, he began to acquire land. In February 1795, he paid a man named Michael Allen, living in the town of “William Michael,” 45 pounds to buy a parcel of land named “Duch Point,” which sat on Swan Creek, which is near present-day Havre De Grace. [2] As part of the agreement, Alexander had to defend the “tract and premises” against all claiming a part of the land. Later that month, the wife of Michael, named Elizabeth, appeared before local Justices of the Peace, with both Michael and Alexander present, relinquishing her right to the land and premises, saying that she was not coerced to do so, but did so “freely and willingly” since Michael had no “displeasure” in parting with the land, it seemed.. This is is interesting because it implies that some women were coerced, but also may indicate that Elizabeth had a degree of autonomy.

The location of “Duch Point” cannot be currently found within Harford County. Since this parcel of land sat on Swan Creek, which has a few “points” (High Point, Cedar Point, Plum Point, and Swan Creek Point), it cannot be the same as historical Dutch Island. Even with the exact location unknown, the contours of this story can be filled out. For one, Swan Creek, a “branch of Chesapeake Bay, mouth (2) miles north of Cole,” with a village of the same name less than a two miles northeast of Aberdeen, with warehouses there, and a place of much activity during the revolutionary war, to not be confused with other areas named Swan Creek across the state.

In later years, Marta, Alexander, and the rest of the family lived in Swansbury at the house of her widowed mother, a frame dwelling of some type. It is also worth mentioning that George Washington saw Alexander as a “personal friend,” making him an original member of the Society of Cincinnati.

In 1798, he would own 463 acres in Harford Lower & Spesutia Lower Hundreds which was worth almost $2,500 dollars on first valuation, and over $2,800 as analyzed by the commissioner. Additionally he would own 2 acres which contained six out houses and one dwelling house worth a total of $500. This specific land would be described in more detail on the page for the specific hundred, which would say the following:

Another page lists Smith as owning 370 acres in Gunpowder Lower Hundred called Tapley’s Neck. There he had one dwelling house, one mory, one 16 x 16 kitchen, one 14 x 12 x 11 house, and other specifications which cannot be read due to the nature of the original record. For all this land, he only paid $16.63 in tax, a small amount. This means that minus taxes, he would have $3283.37 worth of property, the relative value of which would be $65,300 in current U.S. dollars.

Into the 1800s

Five years later, in 1800, Alexander headed a household in Harford County’s District 2 or Halls Cross Roads. Apart from his son under age 10, daughter aged 16-25, his two daughters ages 16-25, and his wife, Martha, he owned twenty-one enslaved Blacks. [3] This made him a well-off slaveowner and part of the region’s politics, with the Chesapeake Bay a major region for slavery, even into the 19th century, as slavery began to expand into indigenous homelands and other areas in the Deep South. This undoubtedly reinforced his standing as a “gentleman” among the Maryland social elite, which he had gained not only as a clerk of the Harford County court but through his military career, famous from the battle at Fort Washington in 1776. Even so, the “respectability” he gained should not mask the brutalities inherent to slavery in the Americas and elsewhere.

The same year, Alexander, and Martha, his wife, along with two of her sisters, Frances and Sarah, sold a tract of land in the same county. For 1,060 pounds, they sold a tract of 370 acres named Tapley/Tapley’s Neck, that sat along Gunpowder (River) Neck, to a Baltimore City revolutionary war veteran and slaveowner named George Presbury, later a local political figure in Harford County. [4] This region of the county consists of an area south of Edgewood, Maryland. By August, the transaction was complete, making the Smith-Griffith families much wealthier. To find the equivalent in today’s money requires some calculations. [5] After going through many calculations, it is clear they would be garnering $134,489 in US dollars from George, which by today’s standards would put them (and likely George) within the top ten percent of income earners. Back then they still would have been well-off landowners, but in a different way as only select people owned land rather than a vast majority.

The 1941 Gazetteer of Maryland describes Gunpowder Neck as a neck “in Harford County; lying between Bush River, Chesapeake Bay and Gunpowder River.” While the area, but the 1830s, would have road-building to and from “Belle Air” (present-day Belair, Maryland), in the time that Tapley Neck was sold, there was a “small plantation” in the region, possibly one that sat on the land that was sold to George, with Maryland militiamen stationed on the neck during the Revolutionary War. The region, includes a 19-mile long tributary of the Chesapeake Bay, Bush River, has a “lower end” near the bay and an “upper end” and is still south of Edgewood. Currently, this whole region is part of Aberdeen Proving Ground, a 75,000 acre military base which was created in 1917, where chemical (and biological) weapons and agents have been tested, meaning that people who “accidentally ingest or come in direct contact with contaminated ground water, surface water, soil, or sediments may be at risk.”

One year later, in June 1801, Alexander, Elijah Davis, Samuel Griffith, and  Frances Garretson (likely related to Aquila Nelson), all were executors of the will of Samuel Griffith, the father of Alexander’s wife, Martha, agreed on an indenture with other members of the Griffith family (Lewis Griffith and Avarella Maria Hynson of Kent County). In this agreement, the executors of Samuel Griffith’s gave the Griffith family 100 acres of land called “Rummy Royal”/Rumney Royal which sat in the county at the head of Rummy Creek between Williams Swamp and “long Bridge,” while being bound by other lands, such as Spring Garden. [6] This land is along Little Romney Creek, which sits within the county to this day, or “Romney Creek,” to be more broad. Furthermore, there is an area named “Romney Royal,” where a farm used to exist, so this use of words is clearly just another spelling of something that already exists. [7] He would die very shortly, so this property was likely distributed after his death to related family members and claimants to his estate.

The date of his death is of some dispute. Some sources claim he was buried on January 26, 1802, while his gravestone seems to say he died on Jan. 24, 1801. In this case, the gravestone should be believed over the other claims. Numerous issues of the Maryland Gazette in late January and early February 1801 and in 1802 turned up no results on Alexander. All that we have is an inscription on his tombstone as noted by one site

In memory of Col. Alexander Lawson Smith, who departed this life on the 24th of Jan. 1801, in the 48th year of his age.

While this pegs his birth in 1753, it is strange that he had no obituary within the Maryland Gazette considering his role in the war, not even in the January 29th issue. No other information is known.

After his death

In 1801, the House of Delegates reported that Alexander had been part of a petition to reopen a case between his wife and other petitioners in the Maryland Court of Appeals. It was first considered (as noted at the top of the page) and then later read and order to “lie on the table” (bottom of page). Hence, one could say that this law did not pass. Martha, his wife, was a part of numerous cases after that point, but it not known if any of them involved him, since he cannot be found within this page.

Thirty five years later, in 1836, Martha, who had remarried to a man named Samuel Jay, would petition the Maryland General Assembly for redress, and would be paid the half-pay of a captain “during her widowhood,” a time period which was not defined in the legislation:

Many years later, Alexander’s heirs would petition the US House of Representatives for additional redress, asking for pension payments.

Other than this, some would mention Alexander in their petition to public officials such as Henry Clay, and within the pension of William Elkins.

In later years, the Griffith family would go on to live in Arkansas. To this day, they are buried in Perryman’s Spesutia churchyard, within Harford County. [8] As for Alexander’s ancestors, they would later be living in Illinois, reportedly.

More information would have been added to this article but online searchings only brought up the above information, as did some other searches on the topic. Regardless, this a good start to future historical research on the topic.

Notes

[1] R. R. Griffith, Genealogy of the Griffith family: the descendants of William and Sarah Maccubbin Griffith (Baltimore, William K. Boyle, 1892), 282, 286, 288-290,  292. In Anne Arundel County there is a Griffith Family Cemetery. The claim about contributions of soldiers comes from William Neal Hurley’s The Griffith Families. The Griffith Family is also mentioned on numerous pages within Thomas Joseph Peterman‘s Catholics in Colonial Delmarva along with mentions in the Harford Historical Bulletin Subject Index. The Maryland Genealogical Society also reports that in Vol. 18, no. 3 there is a “Griffith Family Register” by Nettie Leitsch Major.

[2] Deed sold to Alexander Lawson Smith by Michael Allen, 1795, Harford County Court, Land Records, Liber JLG L, p. 365-366 [MSA CE113-11]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net.

[3] Second Census of the United States, 1800, District 2, Harford, Maryland, National Archives, NARA M32, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 11, Page 46. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.

[4] Mariana L.R. Dantas, Black Townsmen: Urban Slavery and Freedom in the Eighteenth-Century Americas (New York: Palgrave MacMillian, 2008), 176; Walter Wilkes Preston, History of Harford County, Maryland (Baltimore: Press of Sun Book Office, 1901), 89, 106, 271; Laws Made And Passed By The General Assembly of the State of Maryland in 1816 (Annapolis: Jonas Green, 1817), 94, 159; Harford County Court, Certificates of Freedom, 1806-1811 and 1818-1842, Archives of Maryland Online vol. 857, 46; Laying out vacant land for George Presbury of William, December 22, 1803, Harford County Circuit Court, Certificates, Unpatented, HA, Unpatented Certificate 111 [MSA S1222-111]. Courtesy of Plats.Net; Deed sold to George Presbury by Alexander L. Smith, Martha Smith, Frances Griffith, and Sarah Griffith, 1800, Harford County Court, Land Records, Liber JLG P, p. 104-105 [MSA CE113-15]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. The land deed confirms that Martha’s father was Samuel Griffith, but was dead by this time, and that Martha’s last name was Griffith. As for the plat, it shows that Mr. Presbury owned a two-acre tract of land in Gunpowder Neck called Hugh’s Fortune, which just happened to border Tapley’s Neck, which he had owned after 1760. He may have also had royal ancestry while his family would have deep roots in Harford County for years to come as noted in William B. Marye’s “Place Names of Baltimore and Harford Counties” within Vol. 53, No. 3 of Maryland Historical Magazine, specifically focusing on pages 246-247, 249-252.

[5] If we are to take this conversion seriously, with 1.333 Maryland Pounds (pcm) equaling one pound sterling, then that would be about 795 pounds sterling. Using Measuring Worth, the relative real price is £58,910.00 in pounds, as of 2016. If you multiple this times the inflation rate of 2016-2017, 1.76, you get 103,681.6. In order to make a more even number, let’s round this to 103,682. Using XE Currency Converter, converting British pounds sterling into US dollars, it shows that this amount of British Pounds equals 134,489.42 or to round to a more even number, 134,489.

[6] Preston, History of Harford County, Maryland, 203; Richard D. Sears, Ancestors of Rev. John Gregg Fee, Matilda (Hamilton) Fee, and John Gregg Hanson (US: Lulu.com, 2007), 143. Indenture of executors of Samuel Griffith’s will to members of the Griffith family, Harford County Court, Land Records, Liber JLG P, p. 457-460 [MSA CE113-15]. Courtesy of mdlandrec.net. More information about the Smith family can likely be found from resources available from FamilySearch. While only a snippet of Sears’s book can be found on Google Books, one phrase from that section shows that Mr. Smith, Ms. Griffith, and Ms. Garretson are connected: “…Alexander Lawson Smith, his wife Martha Griffith, and his sister-in-law Frances Garretson

[7] William Bose Marye, “The Place Names of Baltimore and Harford Counties,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 25, No. 4, Dec. 1930, p. 338, 358. Also, in the Archives Vertical Files Documents of the Harford County Historical Society, there is a cross-reference to Romney Royal within the “Aberdeen Proving Ground – Michaelsville & various tracts” folder as noted in page 221 of this PDF.

[8] Helen West Ridgely, Historic Graves of Maryland and the District of Columbia (New York: The Grafton Press, 1908), 95-97, 180-181. This book lists a number of Griffiths: Martha, Alexander L., Cordelia, John H., Hannah Emily, Emily, and Samuel. Even Col. Alexander Lawson Smith is buried there, described as dying on Jan 24, 1801 at 48 years old! two others are buried in Montgomery County: Capt. Samuel Griffith (May 7, 1752-May 12, 1833), H. Griffith (d. 1794, aged 73 years), E. Griffith (d. Oct. 1797, aged 33 years), Ruth Griffith (died 49 years old), and many others not listed here.

“Ready to march Southward”: The story of the Maryland Extra Regiment

These brown-lined red coats were worn by the MD Extra Regiment. in 1780. Courtesy of Historic Art Prints.

Editor’s Note: This post uses information from biographies of Maryland soldiers John Plant, Josias Miller, Charles Smith, James Farnandis, and Samuel Luckett, assembled as part of the Finding the Maryland 400 research project of the Maryland State Archives. Three of these bios were written by yours truly, but one, Luckett’s, was written by the project manager, Owen Lourie, and the other by a previous researcher, Sean Baker. Content that is used here is used in correspondence with fair use requirements under copyright law and in the interest of promoting further historical scholarship. This post is part of a series about

The year was 1780. Maryland, one of the key states within the fledgling United States was called upon to alleviate the severe shortage of armed men for the Continental Army and reinforce it. This was because of casualties emanating from the battles as part of the Southern campaign. In the summer, Maryland’s generals, as ordered by the Council of Maryland filled the regiment, called the Extra Regiment, Regiment Extraordinary, or the New Regiment, with former deserters, “a detachment composed Chiefly of Men left at the Hospitals” and a few “Recruited for the old Regiments.” [1] Even though it comprised a motley crew, the regiment’s men still wore uniforms of red-lined brown coats.

This new regiment was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Lawson Smith, a young man either in his 20s or 30s. Only one year earlier, he had been recommended for promotion by George Washington after receiving  recommendation from William Fitzhugh, a delegate representing Virginia in the Continental Congress. [2]

Samuel Luckett and Josias Miller, men in their twenties, a young man John Plant, mid-aged man Charles Smith, and a man named James Farnandis were among those in this new unit. These men were some of the remaining members of the “Maryland 400” who had fought in the Battle of Brooklyn so many years ago. In July, Luckett and Plant, both experienced soldiers, were made ensigns and later promoted to lieutenant in the fall. [3] While they experienced promotion, Miller joined the regiment as a lieutenant, and Smith as a captain, likely around the same time, or after, Luckett and Plant were promoted. [4] Still, becoming lieutenant, was, for Smith and Miller, a step up in rank from their previous positions in the Maryland Line. It is interesting that these combat veterans joined the regiment since it not only included former deserters, but also consisted of many who had little combat experience.

Regiment was slow to form. This was partially due to desertions from its ranks  and a lack of supplies. Before marching southward, the unit moved from Prince George’s County to Philadelphia, going to Head of Elk (present-day Elkton, Maryland), then going back down the Chesapeake Bay to Annapolis to gain more recruits for the beleaguered unit. [5]

In August, Uriah Forest, a high-ranking military man of Maryland wrote to George Washington, describing the state of the regiment:

“[your letter] to the Commanding Officer of the Maryland additional Regt was put into my hands yesterday…they have assembled at this place…three hundred & thirty [recruits]—a hundred & fifty more are daily expected from the more distant Counties, Returns of which have already come to hand. The Gentleman appointed to Command this Regiment not having Joined, & the Men being entirely destitute of Cloathing of every kind, has render’d the Execution of your Excellency’s orders with regard to their Marching altogether impracticable. The State Clothier is now busily employed, in getting them fitted with Shirts, Overalls and Shoes…It is with Real Concern I observe to your Excellency that there is no Prospect of procuring Men to fill up the Regiments. Almost the whole of the Horses and some of the Waggons required of this State are Obtained. I have the honor to be with Perfect Respect”

From then onto to the early winter, the regiment stayed in Annapolis, the state capital, for a “considerable time.” In the fall, some portions of the regiment, with Charles Smith, a Captain, among them, fought a small battle with the British near modern-day Fort Washington, Maryland on the Potomac River. [6] This skirmish occurred at Digg’s Landing or Digges Point, land owned by John Digges, with Smith’s company of Continentals fighting a small group of British soldiers who severely wounded him in the face by a cannon ball, as the story goes, bouncing off a rock. [7] The British, not long after, set fire to Want Water, the nearby house of Colonel William Lyles. After marching about 3.5 miles to the house, the Continentals took several prisoners. [8]

The whole regiment, not just one company, like Smith’s, soon began to march southward. In December, after gaining the “necessary Clothing &c. to equip them for the March,” it began marching to join Horatio Gates and General Nathaniel Greene at the Continental Army’s headquarters, then in Hilsboro, North Carolina, to assist in the Southern Campaign. [9]

Once the unit arrived in North Carolina, in January, a number of problems developed. It refused to join the main Continental Army because of disputes over rank. [10] General Greene took the side of veteran officers, who took charge when commanders of the unit who had trained the unit’s soldiers, for the past six months, were dismissed. As a result, the unit changed into the Second Maryland Regiment before the Battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781. As a result, many of the regiment’s senior members, including but not limited to, Luckett, Miller, Plant, Smith, and Farnandis, likely resigned in January since they could not retain their rank in the new unit. [11] Following this, these officers would , return home, away from the battlefront in the Southern United States. As John McCay put it, in his pension, “soon after the [extra] regiment broke up, the men transferred to fill other regiments and the Officers [from the extra regiment] were sent home,” an account confirmed by William Groves. With the officers leaving, the ordinary soldiers stayed in the 2nd Maryland regiment, fighting in the battle previously mentioned in this paragraph, and others that were part of the Southern campaign, with some discharged in Annapolis at the end of the war, ending their “public service.”

In the years that followed, after the dissolution of the regiment, each of the soldiers would go their separate ways. Plant, by 1783, would become a small farmer and slaveowner, owning two horses, one cattle, and one enslaved black child, while Miller would later live in Franklin County, Ohio, possibly on his bounty lands. [12] Smith, on the other hand, would be married to a sixteen-year-old woman, from Prince George’s County, Mary Bowling, and have three children named Benjamin, John, and Polly with her. [13] Farnandis also married and stayed in Charles County. However, he married for the second time after his first wife, Elizabeth, died, married a woman named Chloe McPherson. [14] Luckett also returned to his family. His wife, a woman named Monica Kennedy, whom he married before he left for war in 1776, he had two children with her, William and Francis H., before her death sometime in the 1780s. [15]

As for Alexander Lawson Smith, one of the co-founders of the Society of the Cincinnati, he had a similar, but different, story. He married a woman named Martha Griffith in 1792, the same year that his brother, Patrick Sim Smith, a well-off a merchant and legislator within the state, sold him eight enslaved blacks. [16] Eight years later, in 1800, he was still living in Harford County. He was with three young children under age 10 (two female, one male), and two young people aged 16-25 (one female, one male), along with 21 enslaved blacks, his with Martha likely among them. [17] He died in 1802. Later, he would be listed in many pension and bounty land warrant applications by those who were in his regiment during the war while his wife would get half-pay of a captain from the Treasurer of the Western Shore. [18]

Notes

[1] “To George Washington from Uriah Forrest, 17 August 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives, last modified March 30, 2017; Beverley Waugh Bond, State Government in Maryland, 1777-1781 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1905), 38; Journals of Congress: Containing the Proceedings from January 1, 1780 to January 1, 1781 (Philadelphia: David C. Claypoole, 1781), 341-342; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 43, 216273; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online vol. 18, 342, 361362;  Pension of Alexander Lawson Smith, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 2208, pension number W. 4247. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 45, 5.

[2] In the footnote, it describes Smith as from Maryland’s Harford County, serving “as a captain in Col. Moses Rawlings’s independent rifle regiment with a commission dating from July 1776.” It also says that “Smith later served briefly as lieutenant colonel commandant of a “Regiment Extraordinary” that Maryland raised and then disbanded in September 1780.” This sentence is erroneous, which is not mentioned in the only other letter on Founders Online with his name, as this posts shows. In his article in Volume 4, Issue 1 (p. 67) in the Maryland Historical Magazine, Christopher Johnson, in one of the articles of his genealogical series on the “Smith Family of Calvert County,” it cites the 1785 session of the House of Delegates, but since there are two sessions which cover that year, both were checked and no mention of information from Mr. Smith was given to the House of Delegates during this time.

[3] Order to pay Lt. Samuel Luckett, 17 October 1780, Maryland State Papers, Series A, box 22, no. 22/24, MdHR 6636-22-22/24 [MSA S1004-29-2635, 1/7/3/38]; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 43, 234, 272, 273, 326, 327, 336, 337, 339, 340; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 48, 58; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 45, 445.

[4] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 43, 234, 235, 272, 273; Rolls of Extraordinary Regiment, 1780, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, NARA M246, Record Group 93, folder 28, roll 0034. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Josias Miller Service Card (Regiment Extraordinary), Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, National Archives, NARA M881, Record Group 15, Roll 0408. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Order to pay and recript by Josias Miller, February 21, 1782, Maryland State Papers, Series A, MdHR 6636-44-41/14 [MSA S1004-60-13467, 1/7/3/53]; Pension of Charles Smith; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780 Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 43, 233, 234; Order to pay Captain Charles Smith, October 24, 1780, Maryland State Papers, Series A, MdHR 6636-22-24/40 [MSA S1004-29-8019, 1/7/3/38]; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781-1784, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 48, 83.

As late as September 1780, the remaining roster rolls say that Miller had not joined the Regiment Extraordinary as an ensign. However, a pay receipt from 1782 shows that he was in this regiment and probably enlisted in October of that year. The pay order of Smith shows he was a captain in October 1780.

[5] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 45, 24, 25, 56.

[6] Pension of Charles Smith, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, W 25,002, from Fold3.com.

[7] Proceedings of the Council of Maryland, 1732-1753, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 28, 553; Pension of Charles Smith; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 47, 192, 197, 198. The first phase of the battle was near present-day Fort Washington while the second phase was at the Lyles House on a tributary of the Potomac River, Broad Creek. The house was constructed by an influential protestant family in Maryland, the Addison family. The remains of this structure exist near Harmony Hall, which is still standing today. Interestingly, the only mention of the house being burned was in April 1781 when Governor Lee was told the following: “Yesterday a Sixteen Gun Brig appeared off Swann Point & sent a Boat with six hands to destroy a vessel on the Stocks near that place eight Militia under Col Harris attacked them and took the Boat & Crew, the Prisoners are Ordered to Annapolis. This morning all the enemys vessels which were above sailed down Potomack and were below Cedar Point at eleven O’clock — they have done no damage since I last wrote you, except destroying Col Lyles house of which you have no doubt been informed I expect we shall have frequent visits from these plundering Banditts & hope we will so well prepare as to repel their attack that they will find the business as unprofitable as it is disgraceful. We thank your Excellency and Council for your kind attention in forwarding the Arms.” No other mention could be found in the Archives of Maryland, meaning that this letter still does not invalidate the stories in Smith’s pension. Digges’s Landing could also be owned by George Digges, later a delegate in a Maryland House of Delegates for Prince George’s County.

[8] Pension of Charles Smith.

[9] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 43, 335336; Pension of Josias Miller, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1728, pension number S. 40,160. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Josias Miller Service Card (First Maryland Regiment); Rolls of Extraordinary Regiment, 1780, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, NARA M246, Record Group 93, folder 28, roll 0034. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Pension of Theodore Middleton, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1720, pension number S. 11,075. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Resolutions, laws, and ordinances, relating to the pay, half pay, commutation of half pay, bounty lands, and other promises made by Congress to the officers and soldiers of the Revolutionto the settlement of the accounts between the United States and the several states; and to funding the revolutionary debt (Washington: Thomas Allen, 1838), 415-416, 490. Other Maryland 400 veterans included Matthew Garner, Samuel Hanson (whose father was undoubtedly Walter, who said this son, an officer, was a prisoner in April 1781),  Charles Magruder, Vachel Burgess, Francis Shepard, and John Bryan. Another man who was in the regiment was Jacob Bythe.

[10] Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard, Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 70-71, 148; Robert K. Wright, Jr., The Continental Army (Washington D.C.: Center of Military History, 1983), 278; Patrick O’Kelley, Nothing But Blood and SlaughterThe Revolutionary War in the Carolinas Vol. 3: 1781 (Lillington, NC: Blue House Tavern Press, 2005), 504.

[11] Order to pay Lt. Samuel Luckett, 25 May 1781, Maryland State Papers, Series A, box 32, no. 109B, MdHR 6636-32-109B [MSA S1004-42-603, 1/7/3/46]; Order to pay and receipt by Captain Charles Smith, March 29, 1781, Maryland State Papers, Series A, MdHR 6636-32-65/2 [MSA S1004-29-8019, 1/7/3/45]; Order to Pay Captain Charles Smith, November 30, 1781, Maryland State Papers, Series A, MdHR 6636-33-112/3 [MSA S1004-44-12571, 1/7/3/47];

[12] John Plant assessment record, 1783, General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Record, CH, Seventh District, General, p. 9 [MSA S1161-52, 1/4/5/48]; Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck, Revolutionary War Bounty Land Grants Awared by State Governments (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2005), xxii-xxiv; Cyclopedia of American Government Vol I (ed. Andrew Cunningham McLaughlin and Albert Bushnell Hart, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1914), 168; C. Albert White, A History of the Rectangular Survey System (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Land Management, 1991, reprint), 10; William T. Martin, History of Franklin CountyA Collection of Reminiscences of the Early Settlement of the County; with Biographical Sketches, and a Complete History of the County to the Present Time (Columbus: Follett, Foster, & Company, 1858), 12; Pension of Josias Miller, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, NARA M804, Record Group 15, Roll 1728, pension number S. 40,160. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Report from the Secretary of War (Washington: Duff Green, 1835), 58; Letter from the Secretary of War (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1820), 642; Letter from the Secretary of War (Washington: Gales & Seaton, 1820), 642; Pension Roll of 1835, Vol. 4: Mid-Western States (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1968, reprint from 1835), 184; Mark Andrew Tacyn “’To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 318. Bounty lands were concentrated in Ohio and Kentucky. The child was male and under age eight.

[13] Pension of Charles Smith; Will of Charles Smith, 1788, Charles County Register of Wills, Wills, MdHR 7290-1, Liber AH 9, p. 549, 550, 551 [MSA C681-10, 1/8/10/10].

[14] Charles County, Court, Land Records, V3 p. 303 [MSA C 670-35]; Charles County, Register of Wills, Wills, 1788-1791, AI 10, p. 386 [MSA C 681-11]; Charles County, Register of Wills, Wills, 1791-1801, AK 11, p. 333 [MSA C 681-12]; Charles County, Register of Wills, Wills, AI 10, p. 386 [MSA C 681-11].

[15] Newman, 61-62; Pension of Samuel Luckett, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, National Archives, S 36,015. From Fold3.com; U.S. Federal Census, 1790, Charles County, Maryland; U.S. Federal Census, 1810, Fayette County, Kentucky; U.S. Federal Census, 1820, Barren County, Kentucky.

[16] A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature 1635-1789 by Edward C. Papenfuse, et. al., Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 426, 747, 748. This account of selling of enslaved blacks is further confirmed by the 1790 census which lists a Patrick Smith as owning three enslaved blacks and living in Hartford County (First Census of the United States, 1790, Harford, Maryland, NARA M637, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 3, page 98. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest). Reportedly, Across the Years in Prince George’s County” by Effie Gwynn Bowie, and Vol. I of ” Early Families of Southern Maryland” mention Smith, but these books cannot be currently accessed and even if they could, it would only be a mediocre secondary source.

[17]  Second Census of the United States, 1800, District 2, Harford, Maryland, NARA M32, Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29, Roll 11, Page 46. Courtesy of Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest. The 1790 census has 34 entries for people with the last name of Smith living in Harford, Maryland. Hence, he could have been related to any of these individuals. the 1800 census, where he is only listed as “Alexander Smith” is more straightforward. Other than this, Smith’s ancestry is not although clear, but confirmed by the Biographical Dictionary cited in Note 16.

[18] While some accounts say that he died in 1801, like Founders Online and Find A Grave, Christopher Johnson in “Smith Family of Calvert County,” (p. 385), an article in Volume 3, issue 4 of the Maryland Historical Magazine, describes Smith as one of 10 children (all with the last name of Smith: Patrick, 1742-1792; Richard, Dr. Clement, 1756-1831; Dr. Joseph Sim, ?-Sept 5, 1822; John Addison, unmarried sea-captain; Mary Sim, married Henry Huntt of Calvert County; Susanna, unmarried and died in 1824, and Rachel, unmarried and died in 1824) of Dr. Clement Smith (1718-1792) and Barbara Sim. It also says that Smith was born in 1754 and died in January 1802. Those dates cannot be independently confirmed beyond this article. The only other place they are mentioned is in Johnson’s  article in Volume 4, Issue 1 (p. 67-68) in the Maryland Historical Magazine, one of the articles within his genealogical series on the “Smith Family of Calvert County,” in which he says that Smith was (1) born in 1754 and died in January, 1802, (2) was “commissioned Captain in the Maryland Line 13 July, 1776,” (3) “was promoted to major in 1778,” (4)  that after the war Smith settled in Harford County, buried there on Jan. 26, 1802 as noted by St. George’s Register which is undoubtedly within this, (5) he married Martha Griffith (Sept. 16, 1771-Aug. 4, 1847) who later married Samuel Jay, and (6) Smith and Martha had three children: Samuel Griffith Smith (Dec. 25, 1794-?) who was unmarried, Francina Frenetta Smith (Nov. 10, 1797-Feb. 10, 1860) who was unmarried, and Mary Matilda Smith (Jul. 1, 1799-Sept. 14, 1860) who was unmarried. There are numerous other sources that mention Smith. A search of Google Books shows him mentioned on: page 603 of The Papers of Henry Clay: The Rising Statesman 1815–1820, Volume 2; page 364 of The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript, Volume 14; pages 229 to 230 of Congressional Series of United States Public Documents, Volume 462; page 88 of United States Congressional serial set, Issue 343; pages 328, 552 and 555 of the Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Delegates of the State of Maryland in 1838; pages 105, 128, 129, 216, and 331 of History of Harford County, Maryland: From 1608 and many others of which one can only see snippets.

Barton Lucas: well-off Cadet, Ensign, and Captain

Battlefields of the Seven Years War, courtesy of this website.

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

Barton Lucas, a captain of the Third Company of the First Maryland Regiment, was born, according to some sources, in 1730, in Prince George’s County. His father was Thomas Lucas and mother Anne Keene. Barton had four siblings named Basil, Margaret, Thomas, and Sarah. [1]

Lucas served in the Seven Years’ War (1754-1763) which had Britain, France and indigenous people as combatants, resulting in transfer of northern parts of America and Canada from France to Britain. [2] In 1758, he signed on as a cadet, a military officer in waiting, in Joshua Bell’s Company and he soon was a ensign in Captain Alexander Beall’s Maryland Company, for which he received modest pay. [3] Maryland troops fought at the battle of Fort Duquesne in September of that year, joined by South Carolinian troops, to fend off indigenous attacks, but the English were defeated and Marylanders covered their retreat. [4] During these military engagements, Lucas was injured. [5]

In 1762, Lucas married Priscilla Sprigg, whose last name changed to Lucas after their marriage. His “beloved wife” Priscilla, “Prisey,” was born in 1735 to Osborn Sprigg, a Maryland legislator, and Rachel Belt, and was one of five siblings. [6] In 1756, Lucas’s father died, willing 112 acres and his plantation to Lucas. [7] In the 1750s and 1760s, Barton bought and sold enslaved blacks for his plantation. [8]

During the Revolutionary War, Lucas, a prominent community figure and combat veteran, served in the military. He was recommended as a field officer to a Battalion “on the upper part of the Patuxent” in 1775, however, he likely never served in this capacity since he was chosen in January of the next year as a Captain of the Third Company of Col. William Smallwood‘s Maryland Battalion. [9] In the summer of 1776, this Maryland regiment marched to New York and was put under the command of Gen. George Washington.

At the Battle of Brooklyn, the First Maryland Regiment, especially companies led by Lucas, Daniel Bowie, Peter Adams, Benjamin Ford, and Edward Veazey, later called the Maryland 400, held off the British while the rest of the Continental Army escaped Long Island to safety. While Lucas’s company played a key role in the Battle of Brooklyn, on August 27, 1776 with sixty percent of his company killed, Lucas was ill and could not participate in the battle itself. [10] John Hughes, a private in his company, said years later that “Capt. Barton Lucas became deranged in consequence of losing his company.” Still listed as ill, after the battle, Lucas was returned home and later resigned on October 11, 1776. However, Lucas rejoined the military as a colonel in the Prince George’s County Militia from 1777-1778. [11]

After his military service, Lucas settled down to his plantation in Prince George’s County. Existing records show that enslaved blacks, plantation tools, and farm animals were part of his overall property. [12] At his death, sometime between April 8, 1784 and May 16, 1785, in Prince George’s County, he was still called a colonel and much of his property value consisted of enslaved blacks. [13]

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

Notes

[1] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, p. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038].

[2] John Frost, Pictorial Life of General Washington: Embracing a Complete History of the Seven Years War, the Revolutionary War, The Formation of the Federal Constitution, and the Administration of Washington (Philadelphia: Lery, Getz & Co., 1860), 52, 65, 106.

[3] Letter to George Washington from Captain Nathaniel Ewing, 9 March 1779. Founders Online. National Archives; Orderly Book, 10 November 1758. Founders Online. National Archives; Letter to George Washington from Robert Stewart, 25 February 1762. Founders Online. National Archives; Archives of Maryland, vol. 61, pp. 392; Archives of Maryland vol. 59, pp. 54, 159, 170, 173, 196-7, and 251; “French and Indian War: Roster of Maryland Troops, 1757-1759 [Calvert Papers].” Maryland Historical Magazine 5, no. 3 (1910): 281; Maryland State Papers (Scharf Collection). 1759-1801. Certification of military service on the frontier [2/19/1767]. S1005 [MSA S1005-57-2, 1/8/5/44].

[4] Joshua Dorsey Warfield, The founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland: A genealogical and biographical review from wills, deeds and church records (Baltimore: Kohn & Pollack, 1905), 213; “French and Indian War: Roster of Maryland Troops, 1757-1759 [Calvert Papers],” Maryland Historical Magazine 5, no.3, (1910): 272; Mary K. Meyer, “Genealogica Marylandia: MARYLAND MUSTER ROLLS 1757-1758.” Maryland Historical Magazine 70, no. 2 (1975): 225; Mary K. Meyer, “Genealogica Marylandia: MARYLAND MUSTER ROLLS 1757-1758.” Maryland Historical Magazine 70, no. 1 (1975): 107.

[5] Archives of Maryland vol. 61, page 392.

[6] Effie G. Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George’s County: Genealogical and Biographical History of Some Prince George’s County, Maryland and Allied Families (Richmond: Garrett and Massie, Inc., 1947), 595; “Sprigg Family,” Maryland Historical Magazine. 8 (1913): 80; Edward C. Papenfuse, Alan F. Day, David W. Jordan, and Gregory A. Stiverson. “Sprigg, Osborn.”  A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol. 2: I-Z (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1985), 763; Special Collections, Legislative History Project Collection, Osborn Sprigg (ca. 1741-1815) [MSA SC 1138-001-1160/1177, 2/11/12/72]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET].

[7] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038].

[8] Will of Thomas Lucas, 1765, Prerogative Court, Wills, Liber BT2, pp. 114, MdHR 1308-1. [MSA S538-44, 1/11/01/038]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1765, Liber TT, p. 0338-9 [MSA CE65-19, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1759, Liber PP, p. 0093, 0144, 0321-2 [MSA CE65-17, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1772, Liber BB 3, p. 0068, 0085 [MSA CE65-22, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET]; Prince George’s County Court, Land Records, 1775, Liber CC 2, p. 0135 [MSA CE65-23, accessed via MDLANDREC.NET].

[9] “Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution,” Archives of Maryland vol. 18, pp. 9; Archives of Maryland vol. 78, pp. 67 and 93; Archives of Maryland vol. 12, pp. 16; Archives of Maryland vol. 11, 92, 169, and 406.

[10] Fragments of letter of an Unknown Patriot Soldier (September 1, 1776), The Sprit of ‘Seventy-Six: The Story of the American Revolution as Told by Participants (ed. Henry Steele Commager and Richard B. Morris. New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 440 [0/60/3/35]. Fully reprinted in Henry Onderdonk, Revolutionary Incidents of Suffolk and Kings Counties (New York: Levitt & Company, 1849), 147-8.

[11] “Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution.” Archives of Maryland vol. 18, pp. 333; Archives of Maryland vol. 16, pp. 532.

[12] Prince George’s County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Record, Rock Creek Hundred, personal property, MdHR 40220-24 [MSA C1162-10, 1/21/10/011]; Will of Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County, Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, October 1785, MdHR 9791 [MSA C1146-4, 1/25/08/003].

[13] At her death in October 1785, Priscilla’s will listed one enslaved black woman and named her next of kin. Will of Priscilla Lucas, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Bonds, October 1785, MdHR 9791 [MSA C1146-4, 1/25/08/003]; Inventories of Precilla Lucas and Col. Barton Lucas, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Inventories, Liber ST, pp. 337-40, MdHR 9799 [MSA C1228-9, 1/25/09/001]; Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, 1791, Liber ST 1, p. 376, MdHR 9805 [MSA C1144-4, 1/25/10/015]; Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, Liber ST 2, p. 6, MdHR 18865 [MSA C1144-6, 1/25/10/017]; Will of Barton Lucas, 1784, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Wills, Liber T1, p. 216, MdHR 9725-1 [MSA C1326-3, 1/25/07/004]

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.