Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Blog about a Blog?

Finding the First Maryland 400

The heading recalls the famous Seinfeld episode were they were trying to sell a TV series to NBC. The concept was a show about nothing! Of course, it was anything but that.  I was going to take a pass on doing a blog this week as it is, after all, Easter week. But I received a post from a blog I follow and I decided to review the Blog as it directly connects to The Patriot Spy, book one in the Yankee Doodle Spies series. So this week we have a blog about a blog!

The Blog

Several months ago, a Facebook friend sent me a link to a Blog established by the State of Maryland Archives.  The Archives commissioned a research project on Maryland's First Continental Line regiment called "Finding the Maryland 400."  As the Blog's home page explains:

The attack of the Maryland 400 
"During the Revolutionary War, men from all over Maryland joined the Continental Army to fight the British. In August of 1776, a group of these men under Col. Smallwood were sent to New York to help defend the city from an attack; the ensuing conflict is remembered as the Battle of Brooklyn (or Battle of Long Island). The battle was a resounding defeat for the Americans under the command of Gen. George Washington, and they were forced to retreat and give up the island. The story of the Maryland 400 goes that during  these
events, 400 of Maryland’s soldiers were sent to cover the retreat from the field, and bravely threw themselves at a much stronger and better positioned British force repeatedly. Though they succeeded in buying enough time for the retreat, they suffered heavy losses, perhaps over half of their number. Who exactly these men were has remained unknown, with little to commemorate their actions in the battle."

So in the summer of 2013, the Maryland State Archives and the Maryland Military Department, Office of the Adjutant General, the Maryland Military Historical Society, and other partner groups hired some interns to research the identities of the the First Patriots who served in the Maryland 400 at the Battle of Long Island. Their goal was to create an accurate list of the Maryland soldiers who participated in the battle and write biographies about some of the men. The chronicles the research progress as well as new discoveries.

The Design

The blog is well designed and appealing.  The key sections are:

William Smallwood
Updates - These are articles about individuals or events the research has uncovered or that otherwise relate to the Maryland 400. The latest discusses Larkin Dorsey, a sixteen year old from Anne Arundel County who enlisted  in the Ninth Company of the First Maryland Regiment. Readers of The Patriot Spy might recall my fictional Lieutenant Jeremiah Creed originally commanded the Light Company but later led men from several companies, perhaps even the Ninth. Larkin's  father asked Lieutenant Colonel Francis Ware to keep an eye on Larkin Dorsey."  Apparently such fostering was common in a time when people were linked by bonds of family and place. As the post explains... "Ware was second in command of the Regiment. Ware, who did not have children of his own, agreed to take on the responsibility for young Larkin. It should be noted that both Smallwood and Ware missed the seminal action on Long Island due to other duties and arrived at the end of the engagement. Major Mordecai Gist led the attacks.

Biographies - This is a list of members of the 400 with links to their biographies. Among them are Smallwood, Mordecai Gist (who has a role in The Patriot Spy) and Ware (mentioned above).  The biographies are listed by company, a nice touch.

Mordecai Gist
Roster - Although not fully complete, this section provides a very comprehensive roster of those identified as members of the unit. The gaps in understanding who served and fought are explained, as is the paper and field strength of the unit when it fought. There is a search capability included.

Interactive Map - This is my favorite part of the blog. Everyone has to be somewhere and the researchers do a really nice job geospatially portraying the movement of the members of the 400 based on pension records, unit rolls, correspondence, etc. As more data is uncovered and added, this will prove a fun and easy research tool. One can note quickly, for example, that several members migrated to the reaches of Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania after the war, indicative of the new nation's trend west that ended (ironically) when the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles. The original Brooklyn Dodgers club house was a building at the center of the battle in which the gallant 400 fought.

The Rating

Those who want to see for themselves (and let us know via this blog) can go to directly to the Blog, which is on Word Press (can I mention another blog platform?):
You do not have to be from Maryland or even a Revolutionary War, or even a history buff to appreciate and enjoy "Finding the Maryland 400" Blog. Although still a work in progress, based on what the researchers have put together so far, and the quality of the display, I give "Finding the Maryland 400" a full Five Fifes

Monument to the Maryland 400 in
Brooklyn's Prospect Park 

1 comment:

  1. I just came across your lovely post about our blog. Thank you so much for you kind words and enthusiastic recommendation!

    We are continuing to expand our biographical research, focusing this summer on the Fifth Company, led by Capt. Nathaniel Ramsey. See more here:

    Thanks for checking out the blog, and I hope our work is helpful to you!

    Owen Lourie, Maryland State Archives
    Finding the Maryland 400 project director