“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.