American Revolutionary War
Continental Regiments

Maryland Regiments in the Continental Army

The term "Maryland Line" referred to the quota of numbered infantry regiments assigned to Maryland at various times by the Continental Congress.

Although no major Battles of the American Revolutionary War occurred in Maryland, this did not prevent the state's soldiers from distinguishing themselves through their service. General George Washington was impressed with the Maryland regulars (the "Maryland Line") who fought in the Continental Army and, according to one tradition, this led him to bestow the name "Old Line State" on Maryland.

Under the assumption that paid soldiers furnished with rations and suits of clothes would be better soldiers, on 18 January 1776, the Maryland Provincial Convention established the Maryland Line as a regiment of uniformed regulars. What distinguished the Maryland troops from other colonial levies was the time they spent drilling before joining the ranks of the Continental Army. This resulted in a disciplined, cohesive unit.

Not all Continental infantry regiments raised in a state were part of a state quota. On December 27, 1776, the Second Continental Congress gave commanding General George Washington the authority to recruit and raise sixteen additional Continental infantry regiments at large. Forman’s, Gist’s, Grayson’s, and Hartley’s Regiments were partially drawn from Maryland. Other Continental infantry regiments and smaller units, also unrelated to a state quota, were raised as needed for special or temporary service.

The "Maryland Line" was assigned a quota of eight regiments in 1777, which was reduced to five in 1781. The regiments of the line were:
1st Maryland Regiment, 2nd Maryland Regiment, 3rd Maryland Regiment, 4th Maryland Regiment, 5th Maryland Regiment, 6th Maryland Regiment, 7th Maryland Regiment, German Battalion (counted as half a regiment against the quota), Maryland and Virginia Rifle Regiment (counted as half a regiment against the quota), 2nd Independent Maryland Company.

The Maryland Line protected the evacuation of Washington's troops across the East River to Manhattan at the Battle of Long Island. On August 27, 1776 members of the 1st Maryland Regiment under the command of Major Mordecai Gist, repeatedly charged a numerically superior British force, allowing General Washington to successfully evacuate the bulk of his troops to Manhattan. Of the approximately 270 men of the so-called Maryland 400, fewer than a dozen made it back to the American lines.

Two months later at the Battle of White Plains, William Smallwood's 1st Maryland Regiment, along with regiments from New York and Delaware, reinforced Chatterton's Hill, covering the retreat of other troops across the Bronx River.

According to popular tradition, Washington expressed his high esteem for the Maryland Line after their heroic stand at the Battle of Long Island. Because of the long service of the high quality regiments, General Washington referred to the Maryland units as his "Old Line", giving the State of Maryland one of its nicknames as "The Old Line State".

In the Battle of Camden, (South Carolina), August 16, 1780, Major General Horatio Gates, a former British officer, placed Mordecai Gist's 2nd Maryland on right flank, in traditional British deployment, the place of honor. The 1st Maryland Regiment under William Smallwood was held in reserve. One hundred eighty Marylanders saw action at the January 17, 1781 Battle of Cowpens.

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1st Maryland Regiment

In January of 1776, the state of Maryland resolved to raise a battalion for the defense of that Province. William Smallwood was appointed to be colonel of the battalion. Three companies from Baltimore and six companies from Annapolis were combined to form the battalion.

It was organized as eight battalion companies and one light infantry company. Made up from men from northern and western Maryland, it was assigned to the Main Continental Army under George Washington on July 6, 1776. The battalion was assigned to the brigade of William Alexander, Lord Sterling, along with the Delaware Battalion of Col. John Haslet.

It was assigned on August 12, 1776 to Stirling's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army. It was adopted on August 17, 1776 into the Continental Army.

This was the start of a close association between the troops from Maryland and Delaware that was to last through the entire war. Smallwood's men were in action first at the Long Island and won great praise for their repeated charges against the British forces. They were largely responsible for the successful withdrawal of the American forces across Gowanu Creek to the main forces in Brooklyn.

The Maryland Battalion distinguished itself at the Long Island by singlehandedly covering the retreat of the American forces against numerically superior British and Hessian forces. Thereafter, General George Washington relied heavily upon the Marylanders as one of the few reliable fighting units in the early Continental Army. For this reason, Maryland is sometimes known as "The Old Line State."

Relieved on August 31, 1776 from Stirling's Brigade and assigned to McDougall's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army. Maryland Independent Companies attached on September 19, 1776.

The Maryland Battalion was relieved on November 10, 1776 from McDougall's Brigade. It was assigned on December 10, 1776 - January 1777 to Mercer's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.

Later the unit was reorganized and redesigneated as the 1st Maryland Regiment, to consist of 8 companies.
It was assigned on May 22, 1777 to the 1st Maryland Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army.

1st Maryland Brigade relieved on April 5, 1780 from the Main Continental Army and assigned to the Southern Department under Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, and later under Maj. Gen. Nathaniel Greene.

The regiment was reassigned on January 1, 1781 from the 1st Maryland Brigade and assigned to the Maryland Brigade, an element of the Southern Department.

It was furloughed on July 27, 1783 at Baltimore and disbanded on November 15, 1783.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

One of the few Continental regiments that fought in both the New York and New Jersey Campaign 1776-77 and Southern campaigns, it took part in the following major battles:

2nd Maryland Regiment

The 2nd Maryland Regiment origins were authorized on January 14, 1776 in the Maryland State Troops as seven independent companies.

Organized between March 7-14, 1776 at various locations on the shores of Chesapeake Bay with personal from eastern Maryland.

From July 6 to August 15, 1776 the companies were assigned to the Main Continental Army and officially adopted into the Continental Army on 17 August 1776.

In January 1777 the seven companies were organized as the 2nd Maryland Regiment with one additional company added.

On 22 May 1777 the regiment was assigned to the 2nd Maryland Brigade in the Main Continental Army.

On 12 May 1779 the regiment was re-organized to nine companies. The 2nd Maryland Brigade was re-assigned to the Southern Department on 5 April 1780.

On 1 January 1781 the regiment was re-assigned to the Maryland Brigade of the Southern Department.

The 2nd Maryland Regiment was furloughed January 1, 1783 at Charleston, South Carolina and disbanded on November 15, 1783.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

The regiment would see action during the New York and New Jersey Campaign 1776-77, Philadelphia Campaign 1777-78, Defense of the Carolinas and Greene's Campaign. It took part in the following major battles:

3rd Maryland Regiment

The 3rd Maryland Regiment was organized on 27 March 1776 of eight companies from Anne Arundel, Prince George's, Talbot, Harford and Somerset counties of the colony of Maryland.

The regiment was authorized on September 16, 1776 for service with the Continental Army and was assigned on December 27, 1776 to the Main Continental Army.

On 22 May 1777 it was assigned to the 1st Maryland Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army. The regiment was re-organized to nine companies on May 12, 1779.

On 5 April 1780 the 1st Maryland Brigade was re-assigned to the Southern Department.

The regiment was relieved from the 1st Maryland Brigade on 1 January 1781. It was assigned to Gist's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army, on September 24, 1781.

Three days later (September 27, 1781) Gist's Brigade was re-assigned to the Southern Department.

On January 4, 1782 the regiment was re-assigned from Gist's Brigade to the Maryland Brigade, an element of the Southern Department.

The regiment disbanded on January 1, 1783 at Charleston, South Carolina.

The regiment would see action during the Battle of Brandywine, Battle of Germantown, Battle of Monmouth, Battle of Camden, Battle of Guilford Court House, Battle of Eutaw Springs and the Battle of Yorktown.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

The regiment would see action during the New York and New Jersey Campaign 1776-77, Philadelphia Campaign 1777-78, Defense of the Carolinas, Greene's Campaign and Yorktown Campaign 1781. It took part in the following major battles:

4th Maryland Regiment

The 4th Maryland Regiment was organized on 27 March 1776 with eight companies from Baltimore, Anne Arundel and Somerset counties in the colony of Maryland. The Regiment was authorized on September 16, 1776 in the Continental Army and assigned to the Main Continental Army on December 27, 1776.

It was assigned on May 22, 1777 to the 2d Maryland Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army. The regiment was re-organized to nine companies on 12 May 1779.

On 5 April 1780 the 2d Maryland Brigade was re-assigned to the Southern Department. On 1 January 1781 the regiment was relieved from the 2d Maryland Brigade.

On 24 September 1781 the regiment was assigned to Gist's Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army. Three days later, (September 27, 1781) Gist's Brigade was re-assigned to the Southern Department.

Gist's Brigade relieved on October 27, 1781 from the Main Continental Army and assigned to the Southern Department.

On 4 January 1782 the regiment was re-assigned to the Maryland Brigade, an element of the Southern Department.

The 4th Maryland Regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1783 at Charleston, South Carolina.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

The 4th Maryland Regiment would see action during the New York and New Jersey Campaign 1776-77, Philadelphia Campaign 1777-78, Defense of the Carolinas, Greene's Campaign and Yorktown Campaign 1781. It took part in the following major battles:

5th Maryland Regiment

The 5th Maryland Regiment (The Dandy Fifth) was organized on 27 March 1776 composing of eight companies of volunteers from the counties of Queen Anne's, Kent, Caroline, and Dorchester of the colony of Maryland and was authorized on September 16, 1776 for service with the Continental Army.

It was assigned to the Main Continental Army on 27 December 1776.

On 22 May 1777, it was assigned to the 1st Maryland Brigade and re-organized on 12 May 1779 to nine companies. It was re-assigned to the Southern Department on 5 April 1780.

The regiment was re-assigned from the 1st Maryland Brigade and assigned to the Maryland Brigade, an element of the Southern Department.

The regiment was furloughed January 1, 1782, at Round O, South Carolina and disbanded on January 1, 1783.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

The regiment would see action during the Philadelphia Campaign 1777-78, Defense of the Carolinas and Greene's Campaign. It took part in the following major battles:

6th Maryland Regiment

The 6th Maryland Regiment was organized on March 27, 1776 composed of eight companies of volunteers from Prince Georges, Queen Anne's, Frederick, Cecil, Harford, and Anne Arundel counties in the colony of Maryland.

The Regiment was authorized on September 16, 1776 in the Continental Army as the 6th Maryland Regiment.
It was assigned on December 27, 1776 to the Main Continental Army.

It was assigned on May 22, 1777 to the 2nd Maryland Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army. Tt was re-organized to nine companies on 12 May 1779.

The 2d Maryland Brigade was re-assigned to the Southern Department on 5 April 1780. The regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1783 at Annapolis, Maryland.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

The regiment would see action during the Philadelphia Campaign 1777-78 and the Southern Theater 1775-82. It took part in the following major battles:

7th Maryland Regiment

The 7th Maryland Regiment was authorized on September 16, 1776, for service with the Continental Army and was assigned on December 27, 1776 to the Main Continental Army. The regiment was composed of eight companies of volunteers organized from Frederick and Baltimore counties of the colony of Maryland.

On May 22, 1777, it was assigned to the 1st Maryland Brigade, an element of the Main Continental Army. Re-organized on May 12, 1779 to nine companies.

The 1st Maryland Brigade was re-assigned on April 5, 1780 from the Main Continental Army and assigned to the Southern Department. The regiment was disbanded on January 1, 1783, at Annapolis, Maryland.

Significant Campaigns and Battles

The regiment would see action during the Philadelphia Campaign 1777-78 and the Southern Theater 1775-82. It took part in the following major battles:

2nd Independent Maryland Company

On January 1, 1776, the Maryland Convention, meeting in Frederick Town order the creation of seven "independent" companies of infantry, one of these was Second Independent Maryland.

On the following day, the convention elected the officer corps of the company with John Gunby as captain, Uriah Forrest as 1st lieutenant, William Bowie as second lieutenant and Benjamin Brooks as third lieutenant. The troops of the company were made up men from Somerset County, Maryland and numbered a hundred and three men, including officers.

In the early part of the war, the Second Independent Maryland Company spent much of their time patrolling southern Maryland and breaking up Tory camps which were to be found on the lower part of the peninsula as Somerset County was a leading Tory stronghold.

On August 16, the Maryland Council of Safety dispatched the Second Independent Maryland Company to reinforce Washington's forces deployed around New York.

Although they did not arrive in time for the Battle of Long Island, the Second Independent Maryland Company participated in the Battle of White Plains, the Battle of Trenton, the Second Battle of Trenton, Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Monmouth as part of the Maryland Line, before being absorbed into the 2nd Maryland Regiment in 1781.

First Company Maryland Rifles

Cresap, who was already in poor health marched the company of 130 riflemen from western Maryland to the lines at Roxbury (Cambridge) opposite to Boston Massachusetts and remained there for one year. Once the unit arrived Captain Cresap attempted to return home, but only made it as far as New York.

Cresap marched his company of riflemen 550 miles in 22 days to join the struggle that would go on for 8 years. The war would take Cresap's life almost immediately (from illness). When Cresap died, Lt. Moses Rawlings was promoted captain to command the company.

June 17, 1776 the company was re-organized into the Maryland & Virginia Rifle Regiment as part of the Continental Army.

Rawlings was second in command briefly as Commander Hugh Stephenson soon died in August 1776, Rawlings is promoted to command the regiment of nearly 250 men. The unit was then assigned by Gen. George Washington to be part of the Hudson River defenses at Fort Washington.

August 1776, Rawlings is promoted to command the regiment of nearly 250 men. The unit was then assigned by Gen. George Washington to be part of the Hudson River defenses at Fort Washington.

November 16, 1776, the regiment was captured after the defense of Fort Tryon, part of the outer works of Fort Washington. Rawlings was wounded during this action in the leg. He turned over command during the battle to his second, Otho Holland Williams, who was wounded slightly along with approximately 40 others of the regiment.

They also had approximately 12 men killed at Fort Tryon. (Note; from Ward: relating to the attack by Rall and Knyphausen on Fort Tryon, actually a small redoubt with the rifles and a battery of 3 guns, he states; "For nearly two hours these courageous assaults {by the German troops} and this stubborn defense continued. But the rifles of the Americans became fouled by the frequent and long continued discharges.

Man after man found that he could not drive home a bullet in a clogged barrel of his gun. The fire of the defenders waned and at last was too feeble to hold back the enemy, now nearing the top of the ascent. They had no bayonets to repel a charge with that weapon. A retreat was inevitable. Rawlings drew them back toward the fort {this even with much very close combat}.

They gained it ahead of their pursuers. This was the hottest fight of the day and the longest." This was after a cannonade of nearly two hours and many feints against their position.

On December 6 (according to Pennsylvania Packet, on December 18, 1776), "Prisoners held in the town of Brunswick in the Jerseys, to be exchanged for the Garrison of Fort Washington." This apparently did not include Rawlings, as he was held for thirteen months, until he escaped! Otho Holland Williams and other Officers were still held sometime after March 1778.

In a letter from Congress dated on February 18, 1778, Moses Rawlings is assigned the post of Deputy Quartermaster General of the Western Department and stationed at Fort Frederick, Maryland. He was also to supervise the guarding of "Convention Troops" sent there.

March 21, 1779, re-organized as Rawlings' Independent Corps (a.k.a. The Maryland Corps), relieved from the Main Continental Army and assigned to the Western Department.

This was not the reward most of them sought (even though they would be close to home) as Rawlings resigned June 1779. It took a bit longer for "The Maryland Corps is at present stationed upon the Frontier of Westmorland, but it appears by recent information, they are determined to march to Maryland to apply for Clothing, of which they are destitute." This was an extract of a letter from the Commander of Fort Pitt, Colonel Daniel Brodhead, dated August 23, 1781.

According to Wright, Rawlings' Independent Corps was disbanded on January 1, 1781 at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania. The letter from Col. Brodhead however contradicts Wright.

Misc Militia Units

  • Gale's Independent Company of Artillery, 1779–80
  • Smith's Artillery, 2nd and 3rd Companies, 1783
  • 34th Battalion of Militia, 1776
  • 37th Battalion of Militia, 1777
  • Extraordinary Regiment, 1780
  • Flying Camp Regiment (Ewing's), 1776

  • Flying Camp Regiment (Griffith's), 1776
  • Flying Camp Regiment (Richardson's), 1776
  • Lansdale's Detachment, 1783
  • Marbury's Detachment, 1784
  • Washington County Militia Company, 1777

Links to Maryland Units in the Revolutionary War