Maryland Provincials

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Maryland Provincials

Origin and History

In the days following Washington and McKay’s defeat at Fort Necessity in July 1754, the Maryland Assembly voted £ 6,000 to be used to repel the French encroachments. Governor Horatio Sharpe quickly granted commissions and began recruiting soldiers to make another push against the French at Fort Duquesne. In Great Britain, a commission was granted to Sharpe to be a lieutenant-colonel and commander-in-chief of any expedition to repel the French by force. By mid September, the prospect for a fall campaign was abandoned. Sharpe declined completing the Maryland company, but, having received notice of his new commission, forwarded the 50 that had been raised to Wills Creek. There, the Maryland company built a fort overlooking a simple stockade and barracks built by the New York Independent Companies and the South Carolina Independent Companies. In addition to these men, Sharpe ordered a company of rangers to be formed.

“I have given Orders for raising a Company of 30 Rangers to be composed of People conversant with the woods & Back Country to be employed as Scouts & parties of Intelligence & as Guides to any Detachments from the other Troops whom I might think proper to send abroad.” Sharpe to Dinwiddie December 10, 1754

In the Spring of 1755, Maryland once again raised troops. Out of 180 men raised in Maryland no less than 120 were drafted to fill the under strength 44th Foot and 48th Foot, which had arrived from Ireland. The remaining 60 man company accompanied Braddock’s column in its expedition to Fort Duquesne. While the column marched west, Sharpe proposed drafting the militia, to range the frontier and prevent any raids by French allied natives. The Assembly, however, would not agree to pay for this. With more than their initial £ 6,000 investment gone, the Assembly even refused to pay those men with Braddock any further. Sharpe hoped that these men could also be drafted into the regular regiments, if the Assembly failed to pay them. In August, after word spread of Braddock’s defeat in the ambush on the Monongahela , the gentlemen of Maryland donated money by subscription, to keep up a company to defend the frontiers.

“The Subscription that has been made in this County & some other Parts of the Province has enabled me to take this Step for the Security of our Frontiers & to continue on foot the Maryland Company which the late Resolves of the Lower House had made me desire the General to distribute between the two Regiments.” Sharpe to Calvert August 11, 1755

Over the ensuing fall and winter, Maryland forces garrisoned Fort Cumberland. While serving there, a dispute arose over rank between captain Dagworthy and lieutenant-colonel Washington of the Virginia Provincials. As a result, the Maryland troops were sent back to protect the frontier settlements.

By April of 1756, it looked once again as if captain Dagworthy’s company would be disbanded. By May however, the Assembly had agreed to spend the money necessary for their defence.

“After having sat some weeks they voted about £25,000 Stg for His Majesty's Service & have been since preparing a Bill for that purpose. They intend to appropriate part of the Money for building a Fort on the Frontiers of this Province & garrisoning it with 200 Men, but as the Fort is to be 60 Miles on this Side Fort Cumberland & the Men to be all disbanded next Winter, I am afraid the Money will be expended without contributing much to the Security of the Inhabitants” Sharpe to Fox May 3, 1756

When the bill finally passed Sharpe was much more pleased. Shirley had given him a commission to command an expedition toward Fort Duquesne. The money appropriated by the Assembly would be used to carry out the endeavour. Unfortunately the season was too late to gather supplies for carrying out the campaign. Lack of troops was a larger problem. The Assembly would not allow the money to be used unless the other colonies also contributed. Virginia was having trouble raising men, and those troops would only operate defensively. Pennsylvania had not granted any money and were not likely to grant any. The men raised by North Carolina were being sent to New York, even the 30 that had remained at Fort Cumberland after Braddock’s defeat were to join Shirley’s army. Without an expedition in the offing, Maryland troops were once again relegated to patrolling the frontier, and constructing forts.

“I have been some Weeks at this place with about 150 Men (raised by Virtue of our late Act of Assembly) constructing a Fort & Block-Houses for the protection of the Frontiers, My presence here will I apprehend be absolutely necessary till the Work is pretty far advanced all our Men being raw & undisciplined & all our Officers ignorant of every thing that relates to Fortifications or Places of Defence, neither is it without great difficulty that I make them observe such Regulations & Orders as our Situation makes necessary.” Sharpe to Baltimore July 13, 1756

Later in the fall, after some incursions by the French and their allies, Sharpe was empowered to raise another company. Recruiting by the regular regiments, most recently the 60th Royal Americans, made the lieutenant-governor despair completing the troops.

“We have not yet been able to raise half the Number that the Assembly voted for that Regiment, & Capt Beall I am afraid will not be able to compleat his Company this winter such is the Scarcely of Men inclined to enter into the Service” Sharpe to Calvert November 30, 1756

The Maryland provincials spent the winter of 1756-57 on the frontier, patrolling and completing the defences at Fort Frederick. By February, Sharpe once again had reason to fear the Assembly would disband the troops.

“The Garrison of Fort Frederick instead of being 300 scarcely amounts to 250 Men & I am afraid the Officers will find it impossible to raise the Number allowed /or the immediate Defence of this Province, however no Mischief has been done on our Fron-tiers for a considerable time & the People begin to think themselves well enough protected.” Sharpe to Calvert February 4, 1757

By March 1757, it was apparent there would be no campaign against Fort Duquense that year. Threat of a French invasion of South Carolina caused troops to be moved south, to protect that colony. Maryland would once again be responsible for her own defence.

“500 Men shall be supported by the Province of Maryland on our own Frontiers vizt 300 to garrison Fort Cumberland & 200 for Fort Frederick & to keep the Communication open between the two Places.” Sharpe to Baltimore March 23, 1757

When Dagworthy once again took possession of Fort Cumberland, no other men had been raised. Dagworthy’s command consisted of some 150 men while that of captain Alexander Beall at Fort Frederick was only 100. The Assembly was not very helpful, either. While giving money to complete the men, they refused to allow a Maryland captain to command at Fort Cumberland. Furthermore troops there would be relieved there from Fort Frederick on a monthly basis. Sharpe could not believe the audacity of the Assembly and refused to send orders to captains Dagworthy and Joshua Beall, then at Fort Cumberland. The Assembly not to be outdone refused pay and provisions to those Marylanders who remained at Fort Cumberland. By the end of May, two additional companies were being recruited, but matters were far from settled over those Maryland troops serving at Fort Cumberland. Richard Pearis, an Indian trader, was commissioned captain in one of the new companies because of his effectiveness as a translator.

In mid June, Cherokee scouts reported that a large body of French and Indians had set out from Fort Duquesne to attack Fort Cumberland. Sharpe quickly called out his militia to help counter the threat. The Cherokee reports, however, were a bit exaggerated as far as numbers and armament, and Sharpe rescinded the order prior to the march of the militia. The Cherokee blamed the misrepresentation on the youth of the warriors. Sharpe feared that lack of an interpreter had caused the misunderstanding. To prevent further incidents, he ordered captain Pearis sent to Fort Cumberland with the next reinforcement, a direct violation of the late act of Assembly. By October, the provision at Fort Cumberland had nearly ran out. The Assembly refused to pay for more. The Assembly planned to reduce the number in service to 300 men, which would not be allowed to garrison Fort Cumberland . They were only to guard Fort Frederick, and range the frontier. Sharpe strictly opposed this bill as a violation of the king’s prerogative. By November, Loudoun ordered Fort Cumberland victualled by the regular commissaries supplying the regulars in Pennsylvania. Sharpe and the upper house of Assembly refused to consent to any bill which would limit the use of Maryland troops, so the lower house refused to alter their bill. The stalemate prevent any further sums from being paid to those officers and soldiers of Maryland currently in service. Sharpe, not to be outdone refused to give in. He would not order the men back from Cumberland to Frederick. Nor would he disband them. The lieutenant-governor, who continued to press Loudoun to take them into the king’s pay, failed to get more than a promise that they would be paid should the Assembly refuse to do so. The Assembly had paid the men through October 10, 1757. Their clothing was sent sometime later. They would get no more support from the province of Maryland.

In 1758, the Assembly agreed to keep 300 men in the forts on the frontier, but they would not be allowed to serve outside the colony. Another 400 would be raised to join the expedition against Fort Duquesne as Loudoun had requested. Sharpe lambasted the absurdity of this.

“They did not indeed insist upon the Service of the Men being restrained in quite so absurd & ridiculous a manner as was proposed in the former Bill but they had taken Care to prevent the three Companies which were to have been formed out of the Men that have served some time on our Frontiers from being carried out of the Province, but if the 400 Additionals could be raised within the time limitted (which in fact was impossible on the Terms they proposed) those might act in Conjunction with His Majestys Forces. Thus the best & most experienced Men were to have been left in our Forts & the most raw & undisciplined sent on an Expedition of the utmost Importance.” Sharpe to Calvert, March 10, 1758

The bill would not pass the upper house and the lower house would prepare no new ones. It appeared as if Maryland would have forces present for the big push against the French in 1758. By the end of March, Sharpe had received more requests for troops. These coming from Secretary of State Pitt and the new local commander, Brigadier-general Forbes made Sharpe hope he could rally the assembly to action, although he did not expect it. By May nothing had been done by the Assembly. Those Marylanders still in garrison at Fort Cumberland and Fort Frederick had not been paid since October and Sharpe hoped they would be paid by the crown to prevent their disbanding. Forbes would not waste such troops.

“In case your Assembly are mad enough to do Nothing, I like the proposal for the Virginians taking your Troops into their pay extremely, and as I was sending an Express to Mr Blair, I hinted to him that in Case such a proposal was made to him by you, that he ought to Jump at it Directly But in case he thinks they will be able to Raise their own men, rather than let your Troops be Disbanded, I will take them into the pay of the Crown, upon the Footing of Rangers. And that no time may be lost in Adjusting & Settling those & other measures,” Forbes to Sharpe, May 2, 1758

All the Marylanders were ordered to Fort Cumberland so as to be together to join the rest of the army for the general rendezvous at Raystown. When General Forbes finally agreed to pay the Marylanders, he assured Sharpe that repayment would be required of the province. By mid August, another group of Marylanders joined Forbes’ campaign. Captain Evan Shelby, an officer with some two years service, had raised a company (50) to serve as scouts for the army.

“Beside the Maryland Troops as we call them which consist of 320 Men I have prevailed on a Company of 40 Voluntiers all good Marksmen & used to the Woods to join the Army they are commanded by a Gentleman that has served upwards of two years as a Lieutenl in our provincials, I understand that these left the Fort at Laurelhannon the 22d Inst & went towards the Ohio in order to make Discoveries,” Sharpe to Pitt, August 24, 1758

Sharpe used the militia to garrison Fort Cumberland in the absence of the provincials. Once word was received of the fall of Fort Duquesne, 100 Maryland troops were ordered to Fort Cumberland, the remainder were sent to Fort Frederick, where they were furloughed to await the decision of the Assembly. With the French menace gone from the forks of the Ohio and many forts between the Ohio tribes and Maryland, the Assembly refused to keep any more men on foot. Nor would the colony raise more men for future campaigns. Although Sharpe would continually try to convince the Assembly of their duty to the common good, they continued to refuse. After the successful completion of Forbes’ expedition, Maryland was for all intents and purposes out of the war. The men who remained in service after October 1757 would not get the arrears in pay due to them until after April of 1762, when lord Jeffrey Amherst ordered payment to be made.

Service during the War

Late in 1754, after the fall of Fort Necessity, a 50 men company of Marylanders built a fort overlooking the former Ohio Company storehouse at Wills Creek, which had been fortified by soldiers of the New York Independent Companies and from and South Carolina Independent Companies. This fort was later named Fort Cumberland.

In 1755, a 50 men company under captain Dagworthy accompanied Braddock’s column in its expedition against Fort Duquesne. The Marylanders were left behind with Dunbar’s brigade, and did not participate in the action of July 9. After the campaign, Dagworthy’s company garrisoned Fort Cumberland along with North Carolina and Virginia troops. From Fort Cumberland the Maryland company ranged the frontier, in an attempt to prevent incursions by the French and Indians.

In 1756, Shirley commissioned Sharpe to command an expedition against Fort Duquesne. The Maryland Assembly, however, would not support troops for an expedition, unless the other colonies also contributed towards the expedition. Unfortunately this doomed the expedition. Virginia re-raised its regiment, but the still weak regiment would be needed to patrol that colony’s frontier. Pennsylvania too, refused aid. The summer was spent constructing Fort Frederick.

In 1757, Maryland troops were once again sent to Fort Cumberland. This time without the consent of the Assembly. The Marylanders spent most of the summer ranging between that post and Fort Frederick. Some scouts joined the Cherokee in reconnoitring Fort Duquesne.

In 1758, after a slow start the Maryland provincials joined Forbes army, at Raystown in early August for another expedition against Fort Duquesne. Bouquet felt the Maryland troops were much better than those from North Carolina, which the colonel found useless. The Volunteer company under Shelby saw considerable service scouting ahead of the main army. By the end of August, the Maryland Volunteers had made their first scout to Fort Duquesne. Unfortunately the Marylanders had not been able to slip in and out without being detected.

“we have some reason to believe that one of Capt Shillby’s Officers are taken Prisoner nigh Fort Du Quesne, this was Occasioned by Shilbys party fireing upon an Indian who made his Escape wounded & brought a large party upon them which obliged them to Divid & Retreat” Burd to Bouquet Camp at Quemahony, Aug. 30, 1758 5am (Kent, Papers of Henry Bouquet Vol.II, 448.)

The most fit of the Provincials under Dagworthy were the advanced guard for the main body of the army, when Bouquet moved to the advanced post at Loyal Hannon.

“Lieutenant Colonel Dagworthy marched today with 300 men, chosen both from his corps and from the lower counties, with 40 North Carolina Rangers and 50 Indians. I will send them to cover our advance, and they will send out some parties every day as far as the enemy’s posts, in order to inform us in time of their movements.” Bouquet to Forbes Raestown Sept. 4, 1758, Kent, The Papers of Henry Bouquet, Vol. II, 473-474.

The remainder of the provincials were sent back to garrison Forts Loudon and Littleton, to relieve the better soldiers for more active duty. Once at Loyal Hannon, Dagworthy’s corps was sent out in advance once again. This time to an entrenchment some 15 km in advance of the army. There, at Grant’s Paradise, they were to be joined by the Maryland Volunteers and the Indian Allies. A detachment from Dagworthy’s corps joined Major Grant, for his attempt to harass Fort Duquesne. Most of the Indians and Shelby, also advanced with Grant on his ill fated strike on September 15. Dagworthy would be the first to send back news of Grant’s defeat before the walls of the French fort.

After Grant’s defeat, Dagworthy’s command held position at Grant’s Paradise until the French and Indians, forced them to retire to Fort Ligionier. On October 12, a general attack was made of the larger fortification. The garrison, mostly provincials, eventually forced the French away but not before they had killed many of the horse and cattle needed for the final push to Fort Duquesne. A break in the weather allowed Forbes to push ahead. The Maryland troops found themselves in the advance on Fort Duquesne, as part of Washington’s ‘brigade’. On November 24 1758, the army reached Fort Duquesne, to find it a charred ruin.

Uniform

Privates in 1755

In 1755, during Braddock’s campaign, Dagworthy’s Marylanders were likely issued clothing from the supplies in Virginia at that time.

Privates from 1756 to 1758

The colony of Maryland provided clothing for the provincials in May of 1756, perhaps in the spring of 1757, when the troops were once again increased in number, and again in October of 1757.

The 1756 issue of clothing seems to have not been uniform, with clothing being purchased where available. Each soldier was issued one coat, one pair of breeches, one pair of stockings, two shirts, a hat, and a pair of shoes.

Uniform in 1757 - Source: Ibrahim90 from a template by Frédéric Aubert

In 1757, they appear to have been issued single breasted red coats with black cuffs and white metal buttons, white shirts and hats. (Katcher, Philip, “ Military Notes and Deserter Descriptions from the Maryland Gazette and the Virginia Gazette, 1754-1760,” Military Collector & Historian, Volume XXXIII, Number 1; Spring 1981.)

In 1758, Forbes told Sharpe not to worry with uniforms.

“As there is some times a great deal of time lost in Cloathing, and furnishing out Provintial Troops, I should think therefore that whatever time is lost in that sort of Equipment, is a real loss, as a good man in any Cloaths, and a Blanket, may well answer the purposes required of him.” Forbes to Sharpe, March 21, 1758

Since the troops had been issue clothing in October 1757, it is unlikely that they were given a new issue, in the spring of 1758. It is possible they were later outfitted like Indians, like many of the provincials on the campaign. Shelby’s woodsmen, at least, were issued moccasins, which they needed for scouting. (Bouquet to Forbes October 20, 1758) Bouquet hoped the general could send some 500 skins to make these since all of the men’s shoes were wearing out. By October of 1758, the Marylanders seemed to be almost destitute of clothing. Forbes ordered flannel jackets for them.

In January of 1759 a deserter, formerly of Joshua Beall’s company was noted as wearing “a short blue Coat cuff’d and neck’d with red, a cotton Jacket, and a Pair of new Sheep-skin Breeches.” (Haarmann, Albert W., “American Uniforms During the French and Indian War, 1754-1763” Military Collector & Historian, Volume XXXII, Number 2; Summer 1980.) This was most likely not part of a uniform however, since the colony had refused further support of the troops.

Officers

Officers may have worn an all scarlet uniform similar to those favoured by the officers of the Maryland militia. These uniforms probably had gold or gilt buttons, with gold laced hats.

Musicians

No description of drummer’s uniforms have been found. It is possible that they were the same as those issued to the privates.

Colours

The Maryland colour had a black and yellow field of Calvert Arms with the Union in the canton. Maryland Provincials probably never carried these colours in the field, which may explain why they've been preserved.

References

Archives of Maryland Legislative Records

Chartrand, Rene, Colonial American Troops 1610-1774, Osprey Publishing, Oxford, 2002.

Haarmann, Albert W., American Uniforms During the French and Indian War, 1754-1763, Military Collector & Historian, Volume XXXII, Number 2; Summer 1980.

Katcher, Philip, Military Notes and Deserter Descriptions from the Maryland Gazette and the Virginia Gazette, 1754-1760, Military Collector & Historian, Volume XXXIII, Number 1; Spring 1981.

Sharpe Papers, Maryland Archives online

Stevens, S.K., Donald Kent, Autumn Leonard, edtrs,The Papers of Henry Bouquet II : The Forbes Expedition, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, 1951.

Stewart, Irene, edtr., Letters of General John Forbes: Relating to the Expedition Against Fort Duquesne in 1758, (Pittsburg, 1927).

Washington, George; George Washington Papers at the [www.loc.gov Library of Congress]

Acknowledgements

William Jack for the initial version of this article