Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Barnet Turner (1749-?)
MSA SC 3520-17329

Biography:

Barnet Turner was born in 1749, in Ireland. [1] In early 1776, at age 27, Turner enlisted as a private in Edward Veazey's Seventh Independent Company. [2] He was five feet, five and half inches tall. Many of those in the Seventh Independent Company were recruited from Kent, Cecil, and Queen Anne counties, and were in their twenties. [3] The average age was about twenty-five, but soldiers born in the thirteen colonies were slightly younger than those from foreign countries. [4]

The independent companies, early in the war, had a different role than William Smallwood's First Maryland Regiment. They had the role of securing the Chesapeake Bay's shoreline from British attack. Smallwood's men, on the other hand, were raised as full-time Maryland soldiers as part of the Continental Army, and were divided between Annapolis and Baltimore. The Seventh Independent Company was stationed in Kent County's Chestertown and on Kent Island in Queen Anne County. [5] During this time, Veazey was uneasy that his company did not receive "arms nor ammunition" until June. [6]

While the independent companies were originally intended to defend Maryland, three of them accompanied the First Maryland Regiment when it marched to New York in July 1776. The transfer of the independent companies to the Continental Army showed that Maryland was more than willing to do its part to recruit the men needed for the revolutionary cause. [7] The independent companies and the First Maryland Regiment arrived in New York in early August, with the Battle of Brooklyn set between the Continental Army and the British Army, joined by their Hessian allies.

Turner served with his company at the Battle of Brooklyn in late August 1776. Along with the companies of Daniel Bowie and Peter Adams, which suffered heavy casualties, sixty-eight percent of Veazey's company were killed or captured. Specifically, Captain Veazey was killed while Second Lieutenant Samuel Turbett Wright and Third Lieutenant Edward De Coursey were captured. [8] As a result of Veazey's death, First Lieutenant William Harrison took charge of the company. After the battle, only 36 men remained out of the original force of over 100. [9] The loss of life confirmed the assessment of the British Parliament's Annual Register which described how "almost a whole regiment from Maryland…of young men from the best families in the country was cut to pieces" even as the battle brought the men of the Maryland 400 together. [10]

The Battle of Brooklyn, the first large-scale battle of the war, fits into the larger context of the Revolutionary War. If the Maryland Line had not stood and fought the British, enabling the rest of the Continental Army to escape, then the Continental Army would been decimated, resulting in the end of the Revolutionary War. This heroic stand gave the regiment the nickname of the Old Line and those who made the stand in the battle are remembered as the Maryland 400.

By the spring of 1777, the command of the Seventh Independent Company was uncertain since Wright and De Coursey were prisoners, Veazey had been killed, and Harrison had resigned. [11] As a result, the company, among with the other independent companies, became part of the Second Maryland Regiment.

Turner's fate at the Battle of Brooklyn is not known. On December 25, 1777, a man with the same name as Turner joined the Maryland Loyalists Regiment. [12] The unit was created by British general William Howe after the British capture of Philadelphia in the autumn of 1777. Recruiting started around the captured American capital and later expanded to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. [13] The unit was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James Chalmers, a Kent County planter. [14] After training from November 1777 until spring 1778, the soldiers marched up to Long Island. [15] The unit stayed there until the end of 1778. [16] It later saw action in West Florida until its surrender after the Spanish siege of Pensacola in 1781. [17] They were later sent back to New York.

If Turner had served in this regiment, he was there for only a short time, deserting on August 6, 1778, when it was en route to the eastern part of Long Island. [18] Ultimately, further facts about Turner's life cannot be ascertained.

- Burkely Hermann, Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow, 2016.

Notes

[1] Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp, 1776, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, MdHR 19970-15-36/01 [MSA S997-15-36, 1/7/3/13].

[2] Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp.

[3] Mark Andrew Tacyn, “'To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 24-25, 97; Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp.

[4] For more information, see "Demographics in the First Maryland Regiment" on the Finding the Maryland 400 research blog.

[5] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July 7-December 31, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 12, 4; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 11, 245, 272, 547, Tacyn, 33-34.

[6] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 11, 318, 468; Tacyn, 37, 39.

[7] Arthur Alexander, "How Maryland Tried to Raise Her Continental Quotas." Maryland Historical Magazine 42, no. 3 (1947), 187-188, 196.

[8] "Mortuary Notice," Salem Gazette, Salem, Massachusetts, March 1, 1833, Vol. XI, issue 18, p. 3.

[9] Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, p. 92, From Fold3.com; Tacyn, 98.

[10] Tacyn, 4.

[11] List of Regular Officers by Chamberlaine, December 1776, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, MdHR 4573, Liber 12, p. 66 [MSA S989-17, 1/6/4/5].

[12] Murtie Jane Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1981), 16-17; Mary K. Meyer and Virginia B. Bachman, "Genealogica Marylandia: The First Battalion of Maryland Loyalists," Maryland Historical Magazine Vol. 68, No. 2, summer 1973, 199, 209; M. Christopher New, Maryland Loyalists in the American Revolution (Centreville, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1996), 58, 151; Timothy James Wilson, ""Old Offenders:" Loyalists in the Lower Delmarva Peninsula, 1775-1800" (PhD diss., University of Toronto, 1998), 180. Sometimes the unit is referred to as "Colo Chalmer's Corps" or the Maryland Loyalists Battalion. If he was in this unit, he would have bucked the trend since recruits were almost completely "native-born Americans" in a unit which suffered from a "dearth of military experience."

[13] New, 45-46, 49; Richard Arthur Overfield, "Loyalists of Maryland During the American Revolution" (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1968), 214-215, 234, 237-238, 243; Wilson, 116, 179-180. Other units created at the same time included the Roman Catholic Volunteers unit and the First Pennsylvania Loyalist Battalion/Regiment.

[14] Robert Mann, Wartime Dissent in America: A History and Anthology (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 2010), 15-17; New, 20, 46; Overfield, 214-215, 207; David H. White, "The Spaniards and William Augustus Bowles in Florida, 1799-1803," The Florida Historical Quarterly 54, no. 2 (1975): 145-155; Wilson, 180, 182. Chalmers had, the previous year, drafted a pamphlet called Plain Truth which was opposed to Thomas Paine's Common Sense. Other commissioned officers included Captains Patrick Kennedy, Grafton Dulany, Alexander Middelton (for a short time), Walter Dulany, Caleb Jones (former sheriff of Somerset County), Isaac Costin, James Frisby, and Philip Barton Key. Other officers included Major John McDonald and ensign William Augustus Bowles. Captains of the regiment were eventually divided between the Eastern and Western shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

[15] New, 50-51; Kathleen DuVal, Independence Lost: Lives on the Edge of the American Revolution (New York: Random House, 2016, paperback), 113, 155. In months afterwards, some soldiers didn't even have uniforms. In the summer of 1779, General John Campbell described the soldiers in the loyalist Pennsylvania and Maryland regiments as dressed in "tatters and rags instead of uniforms."

[16] New, 57, 65, 82-83, 89; Wilson, 182-183; Duval, 113-114, 165, 182, 204, 215. While in Pensacola, many Marylanders were killed by smallpox.

[17] Cliff Sloan and David McKean, The Great Decision: Jefferson, Adams, Marshall, and the Battle for the Supreme Court (New York: PublicAffairs, 2010), 57; New, 94-95; Wilson, 183; Albert W. Haarmann, "The Siege of Pensacola: An Order of Battle," The Florida Historical Quarterly 44, no. 3 (1966): 193-199.

[18] New, 63, 65, 89-95, 151, 158; Wilson, 182; DuVal, 114. He would have run a huge risk, since deserters from the unit were treated harshly. At the same time, the unit suffered a huge problem with desertion, with deserters from the unit even giving the Spanish information during the siege on Pensacola.
 

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