In the same year that Caroline County was organized England closed the port of Boston. This greatly incensed the colonists of Maryland, and the counties at once held meetings expressing their indignation at the proceeding. At Caroline's meeting (Melvill's Warehouse, June 18, 1774) resolutions were adopted of which we may well be proud. A full copy of these may be found elsewhere in this volume.
The resolutions provided that delegates be appointed from each colony to meet in a general congress to settle and establish a general plan of conduct. Other counties offering the same resolutions, resulted in the Continental Congress, first proposed by Maryland, which met in Philadelphia, September 1774.
The resolutions named Thos. White, William Richardson, Isaac Bradley, Nathaniel Bradley, Benson Stainton, and Thomas Goldsborough as delegates to attend a general meeting of the province in Annapolis, which meeting, held December 8, authorized the organization of a well regulated militia to be in readiness to act in any emergency. A later meeting (April, '75) gave full power to delegates for the Second Continental Congress to agree to all measures which they should deem necessary and effectual to obtain a redress of American grievances, and the province bound themselves to execute to the utmost of their power all resolutions thus adopted.
It was during this convention that news reached the province of the massacre at Lexington. Maryland, ready to do her part, resolved to organize forty companies of minute-men to go to the assistance of her sister colonies should occasion arise. One of these companies was to be furnished by Caroline County. This company was to consist of strong, able-bodied men living conveniently that they might drill together. The men were required to sign a contract expressing their willingness to bear arms and fight in their own and neighboring colonies at such time as the Council of Safety should command. While we find no record of this company being called into service, we do know that they were organized and drilled for the emergency.
The Council of Safety, formed July, 1775, was composed of sixteen men, eight of whom lived on either shore of the province. The council was to direct and regulate the operations of the minutemen and militia, provide equipment and food, regulate their movements, appoint and commission field officers, and regulate the rank of all military officers. During the intermission of the Convention of Delegates, the council was to have authority to act in their place in case of
Up until this time such fighting arms as were needed in the colony had been purchased from England. That source being cut off, there was difficulty in procuring enough to supply the need. Men having firearms of their own used them, and to supply the remainder of the Minute Men, the Committee of Observation in each county collected those not in use until others could be provided by the province. This lack of equipment caused considerable anxiety and delay in the organization and drilling of troops.
In January, 1776, the convention decided for the better protection of the colony that additional militia be formed and that after March first the minute men be disorganized. In June of the same year Washington's appeal for more men was received and the Maryland Convention ordered the organization of a "flying camp" of 3405 men of the militia. These men, who were to serve with the militia of Pennsylvania and Delaware from Maryland to New York inclusive, now became part of the regular army and agreed to serve until December first, unless previously discharged by Congress.
At this time William Richardson was colonel of the east battalion of the Caroline County militia and a member of the convention from the same county. In August, upon the resignation of James Kent as Colonel of the Eastern Shore Battalion of the Maryland Flying Camp, Richardson was chosen for this important commission. His battalion was composed of seven companies from the various counties with 644 men in all. Captains of these companies were:John Deen and John Dames-Queen Anne's.These officers were ordered by the Council to organize and exercise their men and report to Colonel Richardson for marching orders. The colonel had orders to march his companies to Elizabeth Town, New Jersey, there to join with other troops under the command of General Smallwood.
Joseph Richardson and Philip Fiddeman-Caroline.
In enlisting their men, the captains were given these instructions:1. You are to enlist no man who is not able bodied, healthy, and a good marcher, nor such whose attachment to the liberties of America you have any cause to suspect. Young, hearty robust men, who are tied by birth, or family connections or property to this county; and are well practiced in the use of firearms, are by much to be preferred.Lack of tents, clothing and fire-arms delayed the organization of troops. There was also difficulty in transporting the men and supplies, but on September 8, Colonel Richardson and his men joined the army at Elizabeth, New Jersey.
2. You are to have great regard to moral character, sobriety in particular.
3. You are not to enlist any servant imported, nor, without the leave of the master, any apprentice.
4. Those who engage in the service shall be enlisted according to the form prescribed by this convention.
Their rations consisted of one pound of beef, or three quarters of a pound of pork, one pound of flour or bread per man per day, three pints of peas at six shillings per bushel per week, or other vegetables equivalent, one quart of indian meal per week, a gill of vinegar and a gill of molasses per man per day, a quart of cider, small beer, or a gill of rum, per man per day, three pounds of candles for one hundred men per week, for guards; twenty-four pounds of soft soap, or eight pounds of hard soap for one hundred men per week.
On September 16, Richardson's regiment had a chance to prove their fighting ability. Three hundred of the British having appeared in the plains below the American position at Harlem Heights, Washington ordered an attack. The British were reinforced with 700 men and to strengthen the American forces, Washington ordered up Major Price with three of the Maryland Independent Companies, and Richardson's and Griffith's battalions of the flying camp. These men attacked with bayonet and drove the enemy from their position, pursuing them until the general ordered their recall. (A full account of this encounter will be found in McSherry's History of Maryland, pages 204-210.)
Washington in his letter to Congress, dated September 18, 1776, gives the following account of the charge of the Maryland soldiers:"These troops charged the enemy with great intrepidity, and drove them from the wood into the plain, and were pushing them from thence, having silenced their fire in a great measure, when I judged it prudent to order a retreat, fearing the enemy, as I have since found was really the case, were sent in a large body to support their part."Colonel Tench Tilghman, one of Washington's staff, in a letter from Harlem Heights, dated September 19th, 1776, says:"The general (Washington) finding they wanted support, ordered over part of Colonel Griffith's and Colonel Richardson's Maryland regiments, they troops, though young, charged with as much bravery as I can conceive; they gave to fires and then rushed right forward which drove the enemy from the wood into a buckwheat field, from when they retreated."General Washington, knowing that he could rely upon the Marylander's in his army, often chose them for posts of danger. He envinced no want of confidence, and often acted as if in command of veterans troops whose resolution he had tried and on whom he could rely. They were the first who met face to face with fixed bayonets, the veteran legions of British regulars; and no troops poured out their blood more freely for the common cause than those of Maryland. No troops behaved more steadily. "The gallantry of the Southern men," as the adjutant-general said, in speaking of these troops, "has inspired the whole army."
On December 1, 1776 the flying camp was discharged in accordance with the agreement upon enlisting. Congress, realizing that men whose enlistments were for so brief a period would never become used to discipline to the degree needed for firmness in action, decided to enlist men as regulars. The colonies agreed to this and Maryland at once started raising her quota of eight battalions. These reorganized troops became known as the "Maryland Line."
From this time on to the close of the war it is impossible to distinguish the military service of the men of the various counties. We find no evidence of the recruits of each county being in one company. It seems most probable that they were distributed as needed and old officers retained as far as possible.
William Richardson remained colonel of what became known as the 5th Regiment of the Maryland Line, and was actively engaged in suppressing tory rebellions in the lower part of the Eastern Shore. The increasing disturbances were partly caused by George III granting pardon to any of his subjects who would join his forces and also by an organization known as The Association of Loyalists of America. This association was authorized to employ "his majesty's faithful subjects for the purpose of annoying the sea coasts of the revolted provinces, and distressing their trade." Large numbers of tories were enrolled on the Eastern Shore who robbed and murdered the residents especially of Somerset, Worcester and Sussex County in Delaware.
The families of men killed in the Continental Service were pensioned through the county court. One example is given here:The court orders that Susannah C........., widow of William C......... who sometime since died in the Continental Service, be allowed for the support of her two children this year (1779) 30£ current money.A complete list of Caroline's Revolutionary soldiers has never been found. We give here the company that served under Captain Richardson in the flying camp. Although no enlistments of Captain Philip Fiddeman's company can be found his company was raised and marched to Philadelphia.
First Caroline Company of the Eastern Shore Battalion
Captain ............................. Joseph Richardson
1st Lieutenant ................... Thomas Wyer Lockerman
2nd Lieutenant .................. Levin Handy
Ensign ............................... Philip Casson (resigned)
Surgeon's Mate ................. Zabdiel Potter
Andrew Price William Walker Thomas Comerford John Hobbs Masey Fountain Ellis Thomas John Webb John Diragin (Duregin) William Brown Zadock Harvey John Kanahan Jarir (or Jervis) Willis Edward Hardin Robert Waddle Perry Gannon James McQuality John Needles Thomas Scoudrick William Hobbs William Allcock John McKinney John Ritchee (Richee) Silas Parrott William Sharp Michael Walker William Clark John Hughs Joseph Thomas Robert Thomas William Foster Zebdial Billiton John Froume Alex Robbs William Willin Cornelius Morris George aHndy[sic] Hughlett Conner Thomas Merrill Issac Duncan John Thomas Thomas Vaine Andrew Willis John Ford John Ryan James Tanner John Selby Martin Benj. Caulk John Reed William Cook James Haven John Carter William Dorman John Turner John Benston John Cohee Charles Roach John Vaine Fredrick Barnicassle William Cooper William Hosier Samuel Hopkins George Martin Elijah Taylor (Tyler) Jesse Parker Elijah Clark Charles Richardson Henry Willis Isaac Broughten
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