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Holding the Line:

"The Origin of the “the Old Line State”

Ryan Polk, Research Archivist, Maryland State Archives

Maryland earned the nickname “Old Line State” in the American Revolution. The Maryland Line, Maryland’s regiments of regulars, achieved a reputation as the saviors of the Continental Army and the cause of independence. References to the “Old Line” are a tribute to the Maryland Line, but more specifically, to the first incarnation of the Maryland Line, the men who first mobilized in December 1775 and early 1776 and fought at Long Island on 27 August 1776, serving under William Smallwood, Francis Ware, Thomas Price, and Mordecai Gist. The battle-worn survivors of this regiment ostensibly reorganized in December 1777, continuing their enlistments “for three years or during the war.” But by the close of 1777, few remained from the original line Washington witnessed at Long Island. Bled weak by fighting in the vanguard of the war, they received reinforcements from the Maryland companies of the Flying Camp, and earned recognition for their sacrifices in the form of a nickname.1

Precisely attributing the genesis of the name to a single source is difficult, if not impossible. Rather, the sobriquet seems to have developed in the revolutionary generation’s colloquial language without a precisely identifiable origin. Evidence of its existence and comprehension appears in multiple contemporary sources, most notably in the writings of the commanders of the Continental Army, George Washington and Nathaniel Greene. The Maryland Line’s reputation will be forever associated with their heroic sacrifices at the Battle of Long Island and the ensuing defense covering the rear of the Continental Army as it retreated. After all of the immediate witnesses and survivors had passed, the name came to mean more as subsequent generations sought a connection to a proud past. The Old Line that once earned Maryland soldiers such an untarnishable reputation in 1776, now stands fast as a symbolic name for the entire state. 

Defining a Name

According to popular tradition, Washington bestowed his high esteem upon the Maryland Line after viewing their heroic stand at the Battle of Long Island. Given the order to defend the American withdrawal from Long Island, the Maryland Line saved the Continental Army from annihilation in the first major battle of the war. “Good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose,” Washington remarked to Israel Putnam as he witnessed the Marylanders repeatedly charge Cortelyou House, effectively holding back the British advance. Later, Washington described their efforts as an "hour more precious to American liberty than any other."2

Trusting in their proven discipline and courage from that point through the end of the war, Washington utilized the Maryland Line in positions vital to the success of the army. Along with Nathaniel Greene’s Rhode Islanders, the Maryland Line displayed soldierly conduct that rivaled or exceeded the best in the Continental Army. The performance and conduct of the troop was a product of their time spent drilling before joining the ranks of the Continental Army – training that differentiated the Maryland Line from other state’s troops. While other states responded to Congress’s call for recruits with untrained militia, on 18 January 1776, the Maryland Provincial Convention working, under the assumption that paid soldiers furnished with rations and suits of clothes would be better soldiers, established the Maryland Line as a regiment of uniformed regulars. The Convention’s assumption proved correct as the Line exemplified a cohesive, disciplined unit, especially in comparison to the throngs of untrained militia that formed the bulk of the Continental Army.3

As few troops would stand and fight in the face of England’s battle-tested professional army, the fact that the Maryland Line functioned and operated as a disciplined unit was not lost on Washington. The Maryland Line’s record of service made a lasting impression as Washington remembered the old line in his personal writings, and though Washington referred to every state’s regiments as a “line,” Washington’s use of “old line” may have had substantial influence on the adoption of the “Old Line State” nickname. Washington addressed the Maryland Line frequently as he corresponded regularly with the Maryland General Assembly, General William Smallwood, Governor Thomas Johnson, and others. 

By the end of 1779, the first wave of enlistments expired, though questionable wording in enlistment papers left this open to debate. In 1776, soldiers had enlisted for “three years or during the war.” Most of the veterans re-enlisted, and more recruits joined their ranks. As Congress called for states to furnish their quota of recruits, Washington believed more Marylanders served than the state was accredited, and furnished the Continental Army with a disproportionately large number of regiments. Washington argued for a more accurate count of the men who enlisted and served in the Maryland regiments in his 16 February 1779 letter to General William Smallwood, referring to the “old Soldiers of the Maryland line,” i.e. the survivors who fought in the Battle of Long Island and the ensuing northern military campaign.4  Washington’s letter acknowledges that Maryland exceeded its quota of volunteers by the first reorganization in 1779.5  Then in a 28 May 1779 letter to Governor Thomas Johnson, Washington recommended commissions for "Gentlemen of merit" who have "long acted as officers of the line."6

Around the time of reorganization, officers of the Maryland Line complained to Nathaniel Greene that with their numbers dwindling and much of the commanding field staff positions vacant, they worried that Congress would appoint officers from outside their ranks. The Marylanders referred to themselves as an “Old Regiment” whose reputation and record would be “diminished by being obliged to serve under them [newly appointed officers].” In the eyes of its members, the Maryland Line was a well-established, “old” regiment by 1780. “Old” is at once a reference to their record of reliability and an acknowledgment of the sacrifices made by the first soldiers of the line. Nathaniel Greene responded, remarking of the reorganization of the army, “…the officers of the Old Regiments shall compose the officers of the new….” Greene held the Marylanders in high regard, and further offered his compliments, "nothing would give me greater pleasure then to have it in my power to oblige a corps of officers whose service have been so important to their country, and so honorable to themselves."7   In 1780, the Maryland Line (the first two Corps) reorganized as the first and second Maryland, and became the backbone of Greene’s southern army. At the end of the decisive victory at the Battle of Cowpens on 17 January 1781, the Maryland Line (the 2nd Maryland) held the center of General Daniel Morgan's command.8  In a diary entry dated 22 July 1781, Washington reflected on his “old lines thrown up in 1776” in Harlem Heights – a clear reference to the line of the combined Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware regiments that checked the advance of the British at the Battle of White Plains, allowing the Continental Army to evacuate Manhattan Island.9

A few months before his death, on 14 December 1799, Washington advised Alexander Hamilton regarding selection of officers for the army. "If Genl. Wilkinson should be promoted, it will be expected, no doubt, that the oldest Lieutt. Colo. Commandant should step into his Shoes as Brigadier; of course the oldest Major of the old line, would succeed to the vacancy occasioned thereby..."10   This letter may be the origination "Old Line" as attributed to Washington. Though born in Calvert County, General James Wilkinson initially served under General Horatio Gates, but did not serve in the Maryland Line. Wilkinson received his Maryland pension after 1815, and died in Mexico in 1825.11   In his memoirs, although desperate to salvage his disgraced reputation, Wilkinson did not lay claim to sharing the fame of his state's line.12   In referring to the "old line" in 1799, Washington was merely being consistent in his use of "line" to refer to troops in general.

After the war, members of the Maryland Line maintained relationships formed during the Revolution. In the last days of the Revolution, the Society of the Cincinnati formed chapters in each of the thirteen original states. William Smallwood called for the first assembly of the Maryland Society of the Cincinnati on 20 November 1783; a day later, Smallwood and Mordecai Gist became the first officers of the Maryland chapter of the society, which consisted entirely of officers of the Maryland Line. One of the express purposes of the society was to foster fraternal camaraderie and honor their collective military history. Effectively meeting for reunions as long as there were survivors, the first members of the Cincinnati likely cultivated and propagated the story of the old line. As the revolutionary generation dwindled, perhaps the first “greatest generation” in American history, the last survivors were venerated as patriotic icons of a glorious past, and the cause and ideals for which they fought were canonized as hallowed tenets of the American democratic state. There was a legitimate fear that with their passing so would pass the democracy they established, as if they alone held the nation together. So revered was the unifying force of the passing revolutionary generation that uncertainty prevailed as to whether, in the fragmented partisan age that followed, the nation could continue to exist.13  During their lifetimes, to members of the Maryland Line the name “old line” referred specifically to their regiments, but in the years after the death of the revolutionary generation, the pride formerly invested in members of the Maryland Line grew into a source of statewide identification – the old line became immortalized as the Old Line State. The revolutionary generation, and the “Old Line” for Marylanders in particular, provided a common heritage, a symbol of continuity and identification for an increasingly heterogeneous population.


Though both the meaning and motive for the name are rooted in the history of the Maryland Line, another concurrent theory exists. H. L. Mencken examined the contention that the name stemmed from the border dispute resolved by the Mason-Dixon Line – an idea supported by an entry in the Dictionary of American English (DAE) (1942), which claimed that the term first appeared in 1871. However, Mencken disputed the accuracy of the DAE, stating that the term is much older, but did not offer any evidence.14   Further confusing the issue, the DAE inexplicably referenced M. Schele de Vere’s 1872 work, Americanisms; The English of the New World, which published the common nicknames of all the states. de Vere directly contradicts the DAE by defining “Old Line State” as a reference to the only state (Maryland) that had regular troops of the line serving during the American Revolution.15   Though the first use of the name remains elusive, the history of the name does not support a relationship to the Mason-Dixon line. Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon finished surveying their boundary line by 1768. No hint of the name appeared before the Maryland Line fought in the Battle of Long Island on 27 August 1776. 

Apocryphal perhaps, but nevertheless part of the lore of the name, is the legend that Washington himself bestowed the name.16   Washington was acutely aware that his written legacy would be studied and scrutinized by later generations, and may have consciously avoided showing state favoritism in his writings. His suspicions proved prophetic. Beginning within a few years of his death, biographers have used Washington’s papers. Apart from his 1754 published journal account of his experiences in the French and Indian War, The Journal of Major George Washington, Sent by the Hon. Robert Dinwiddie, Esq...Commander in Chief of Virginia, to the Commandant of the French Forces on Ohio, Washington’s diaries were not published until 1931. But John Marshall, one of the first researchers to use Washington’s papers, probably used the original diaries to research his five-volume biography of Washington (published between 1804 and1807). Another early Washington biography, by David Ramsay appeared in 1807, followed by many more in frequent succession for the next two hundred years. 

Washington’s descendants circulated his papers among other scholars until Congress purchased the collection in 1834. The last writer who privately held the papers, Jared Sparks, compiled and published The Writings of George Washington in 1837. Already by 1827, when Sparks began his study, papers had gone missing, and Sparks reportedly mishandled his share as well. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing what words are lost to time. 

Beginning in the 1920s, John C. Fitzpatrick headed the first systematic effort to transcribe and publish the entirety of Washington’s personal papers. Now available and searchable online through both the University of Virginia and the Library of Congress, the surviving Washington papers yield no confirmation that Washington christened Maryland the “Old Line State,” though he did use “old line” in specific reference to the Maryland Line. Washington apparently did not record the name “Old Line State” as some sources are wont to claim. It is unlikely that Washington’s diary entries and personal papers alone could have imparted the nickname, but they do suggest Washington’s, and thus his generation’s, awareness of the moniker.

The term "Old Line State" does not appear in the earliest histories written about Maryland, indicating that the name probably entered tradition through persistent conversational usage and a proud and cultivated regional memory.17   No source pinpoints the first use of the sobriquet beyond hinting that the name simply always existed in tribute to the Maryland Line’s reputation of honor, reliability, and valor.

In his 1879 standard, History of Maryland from the Earliest Period to the Present Day, J. Thomas Scharf did not use or reference the nickname. Neither of the historical studies Scharf referenced in his preface, John McMahon's Historical View of the Government of Maryland (1831) and James McSherry's History of Maryland…(1852), employed the sobriquet. However, McSherry implied knowledge of the nickname by clarifying the fact that the old line should also be known as the first line, i.e. the first Maryland Line of recruits that fought in 1776 beginning with the Battle of Long Island. Having suffered dramatic losses over the course of the year, the Maryland Line reorganized through recruitments and re-enlistments, as much of the original old line died in 1776.18   William Hand Browne did not use the nickname in his history, Maryland: The History of a Palatinate (1884).

Evidence of growing usage of the name begins to appear in the mid nineteenth century, but not in the writings of scholars or historians. Rather, it appears in conversational language, in the works of poets, and in the names of businesses, indicating a more informal understanding of the phrase. Though known and understood by historians, as evidenced by McSherry, the name may have survived through the generations more through oral tradition than a written one. On Wednesday 6 February 1856, for example, Sen. Thomas G. Pratt took the floor of United States Senate and presented a memorial of the heirs and representatives of officers of the old Maryland line. Other states’ Revolutionary War legacies were also recognized that day, but Pratt distinguished Maryland’s unit with the term “old.” A year later Sen. Josiah Evans from the Committee on Revolutionary War Claims appropriated Pratt’s language, referring to the Maryland line as “the Old Maryland Line.” The Old Maryland Line appears in quotes – the only state regiment referred to by nickname.19

Writing in response to the 19 April 1861 Baltimore riot, James Ryder Randall invoked the memory of the Old Line in his secessionist ballad, “Maryland, My Maryland:” I hear the distant thunder-hum, Maryland, My Maryland! The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum, Maryland, My Maryland! By incorporating the Old Line into his call to arms, Randall endeavored to unify all Marylanders in a shared pride in their revolutionary ancestors in order to inspire a retaliatory response to Republican tyranny. Around the same time or shortly before, Baltimore doctor, Civil War correspondent, and possible Confederate spy, John Williamson Palmer memorialized the Old Line in his lyrical poem “The Maryland Battalion: In the Battle of Long Island.” Written in the lurid style of the age, Palmer caters to the Victorian appetite for legends and heroes, while preserving the story of the Old Line and cultivating a source of Maryland pride.20

It is perhaps in the divisive aftermath of the Civil War that the Old Line stood again to unite all in a common past so that a unified future might look more probable. Few states had nicknames before the Civil War, and even then, names like “hoosier” and “yankee” were at first more regional and related more closely to a cultural group than a geographic area. State nicknames began to assume their modern meanings in the first half of the nineteenth century with “Hoosiers” for Indiana and “Hawkeye State” for Iowa in the 1830s.21  Like Hawkeye, Old Line references a singular group transposed to apply to the entire state in order that the past would not be forgotten. Later, in the second half of the nineteenth century, “old line” became a cultural reference point as business owners appropriated the name for their businesses and buildings. The trend proliferated, as “Old Line” was certainly a common appellation among business owners in Baltimore by the first quarter of the twentieth century. With businesses incorporating with names like Old Line Real Estate, Old Line Legal and Reserve, and the Board of Natural Resources’ publishing their newsletter, Old Line Acorn, the name seemed to be gaining popularity in the twentieth century. An Old Line Party even appeared on the University of Maryland campus in the 1960s.22

Only in the twentieth century did historical writers incorporate “Old Line” as a nickname for the entire state. Matthew Page Andrews may be the first writer to use the term in his History of Maryland Province and State (1929, 1st ed.).23   Both Morris Radoff’s updated Old Line State (1956, 1971), and its predecessors, the W.P.A. product Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State (1934, 1940), officially confirmed the state’s nickname, but failed to fully examine its origin. Although Maryland does not have an officially codified nickname, the “Old Line State” first appeared in The Maryland Manual Supplement 1975-76, and has been included in every subsequent edition of the manual.24

Regardless of the progenitor, the name “old line” entered the consciousness by at least 1779, and by the mid-nineteenth century, the phrase entered Maryland mythology as one of the state’s nicknames. It is likely the nickname became part of common parlance in the Revolution as a reference to the Maryland Line, outlived the revolutionary generation through oral tradition, and in the decades after the Civil War preserved its rightful place in history by usage seeking to unite Marylanders under the name given to their ancestors. The “old line” has remained in the vocabulary of Marylanders ever since.


1. See James H. Brewer, Fitzgerald, History of the 175th Infantry (5th Maryland). (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1955), 9-20. Also see Reiman Steuart, A History of the Maryland Line in the Revolutionary War 1775-1783, (Baltimore: Society of the Cincinnati of Maryland, 1969).

2. Washington's quote first appears locally on page 2 of the 12 September 1776 issue of the Maryland Gazette, and it appears in nearly every subsequent account of the battle. In "Washington's Dire Straights," for American History Magazine, J. Jay Myers claims Washington made his famous statement to Israel Putnam.

3. Archives of Maryland, vol. 78, The Proceedings of the Conventions of the Province of Maryland, held at the City of Annapolis, in 1774, 1775 & 1776, (Baltimore: James Lucas & E. K. Deaver and Annapolis: Jonas Green, 1836). L1053, 119. See also Mark Andrew Tacyn, “‘To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution.” Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 1999, 9-12.

4. George Washington to William Smallwood, 16 February 1779, The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799, vol. 14, ed. John C. Fitzpatrick (Washington: GPO, 1931-1944). Washington recommended extending enlistments if possible, but releasing those who protested. See George Washington to William Smallwood 18 December 1779.

5. James Fitzgerald Brewer, "Military Maryland," chap. 16 in The Old Line State, Morris Radoff, ed. (Annapolis: Hall of Records Commission, 1971), 251-252.

6. Washington to Johnson, 28 May 1779, Archives of Maryland, vol. 21, ed. William Hand Browne, (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1901), 430.

7. Officers of the Maryland Line to General Greene, 18 December 1780, in "Grievances in the Line," Maryland Historical Magazine 4 (1909), 362-363.

8. James H. Brewer Fitzgerald, History of the 175th Infantry (5th Maryland), (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1955) 42.

9. Donald Jackson and Dorothy Twohig, eds., The Diaries of George Washington, 6 vols, (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976-79). Available online at:, accessed August 22, 2005.

10. George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, June 25, 1799, Writings of Washington, vol 37.

11. See J. Thomas Scharf, History of Maryland, vol. 2. 1879. Reprint, (Hatsboro: Tradition Press, 1967), 290-291; Resolution no. 47, Laws Made and Passed by the General Assembly of Maryland 1815, Jehu Chandler, printer (Annapolis: Jehu Chandler, 1816) [Archives of Maryland Online, vol 634, 222].

12. General James Wilkinson, Memoirs of My Own Times, (Philadelphia: Abraham Small, 1816).

13. See Robert P. Hay, "Charles Carroll and the Passing of the Revolutionary Generation," Maryland Historical Magazine. 67 (1972), 4-62.

14. H. L. Mencken, The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, sup. 2, (New York: Knopf, 1960).

15. M. Schele de Vere, Americanisms; The English of the New World, (New York: Charles Scribner & Co., 1872).

16. The origin of this story is also difficult to pinpoint. Beginning in 1975, the Maryland Manual reports this tale in each edition. The Maryland Manual serves as the permanent historical record of Maryland government.

17. See William Winder, "History of Maryland," The Journal of the Times 1, (Sept. 12-Nov. 7, 1818); 4-9, 17-21, 33-36, 59-63, 65-68, 81-85, 113-17, 129-134; Thomas Waters Griffith, Sketches of the Early History of Maryland, (Baltimore: Frederick G. Shaeffer, 1821); and John Van Lear McMahon, An Historical View of the Government of Maryland, From Its Colonization to the Present Day, (Baltimore: F. Lucas, Jr. Cushing & Sons, and William and Joseph Neal, 1831.)

18. James McSherry, History of Maryland, (Baltimore: John Murphy & Co., 1852), 212-213.

19. US Senate Journal, 34th Cong. 1st sess., 6 February 1856, 92. US House Journal, 34th Cong. 1st sess., 24 March 1856, 708. US Senate Journal, 34th Cong. 3rd sess., 21 January 1857, 110.

20. See Daniel E. Sutherland, "'Altamont' of the Tribune: John Williamson Palmer in the Civil War," Maryland Historical Magazine, 78 (1983), 54-66; and David Winfred Gaddy, "John Williamson Palmer: Confederate Agent," Maryland Historical Magazine, 83 (1988). 98-110.

21. "What is a Hoosier?," Indiana Historical Board,, accessed 27 September 2005.

22. Several businesses under state contract appear in the Proceedings of the General Assembly. Also see City Directories at Archives of Maryland Online: Proceedings and Debates of the 1967 Constitutional Convention, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 104, accessed 29 August 2005.

23. Matthew Page Andrews, History of Maryland: Province and State, (Hatboro: Tradition Press, 1965), 334.

24. Hall of Records Commission, Maryland Manual Supplement 1975-76, (Baltimore: John D. Lucas Printing Co., 1975).


Andrews, Matthew Page. History of Maryland: Province and State. New York: Doubleday Doran & Co., 1929.

Arnett, Earl, Robert J. Brugger, and Edward C. Papenfuse, eds. A New Guide to the Old Line State, 2nd ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

Balkoski, Joseph M. The Maryland National Guard: A History of Maryland’s Military Forces 1634-1991. Baltimore: Maryland National Guard, 1991.

Batt, Richard Ph.D. "Maryland's Brave Fellows, Maryland in the Revolution” from the Bicentennial Series from Maryland Magazine, 1976.

“Battle of Long Island,” Maryland Historical Magazine, vol. 14, (1919): 110-120.

Brewer, James H. Fitzgerald. History of the 175th Infantry (Fifth Maryland). Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, MD, 1955. 

Browne, William Hand, ed. Archives of Maryland, vol. 21. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1901.

Brugger, Robert J. Maryland: A Middle Temperament 1634 – 1980. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.

Department of Forests and Parks. The Old Line Acorn, 1954-1957, Annapolis, MD, MSA SC 1178-1-77.

Dillon, Conley H., ed. Messages, Addresses, and Public Papers of J. Millard Tawes, Governor of Maryland, 1959-1963. 2 vols. Annapolis: State of Maryland, 1967. Available online as Archives of Maryland vol. 82 (

Field, Thomas W. Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society. Vol. 2 The Battle of Long Island; With Preceding and Subsequent Events. Brooklyn: The Long Island Historical Society, 1869.

Fitzpatrick, John C., ed. The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745-1799. Washington: GPO, 1931-1944. 

Freeman, Douglas Southall. George Washington: A Biography. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1951.

Gaddy, David Winfred Gaddy. “John Williamson Palmer: Confederate Agent,” Maryland Historical Magazine, 83 (1988): 98-110.

“Grievances in the Line,” Maryland Historical Magazine vol. 4, (1909): 362-368.

Griffith, Thomas W. Sketches of the Early History of Maryland. Baltimore: Frederick G. Schaeffer, 1821.

Hay, Robert P. “Charles Carroll and the Passing of the Revolutionary Generation.” Maryland Historical Magazine, 67 (1972): 54-62.

Indiana Historical Board. “What is a Hoosier?”, accessed September 27, 2005.

Jackson, Donald and Dorothy Twohig, eds. The Diaries of George Washington, 6 vols. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1976-79.

Jenson, Ann. “What Brave Fellows,” The Annapolitan, August 1991, 38-40, 57-58.

Kilbourne, John Dwight. The Maryland Line. Baltimore: Society of the Cincinnati of Maryland, 1992.

Maryland Historical Records Survey Project (WPA). Calendar of the General Otho Holland Williams Papers in the Maryland Historical Society. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Records Survey Project, 1940.

“Maryland Troops in War of Revolution,” Maryland Historical Magazine 4 (1909): 288-289.

Mencken, H. L. The American Language: An Inquiry into the Development of English in the United States, sup. 2. New York: Knopf, 1960.

McMahon, John V. L. An Historical View of the Government of Maryland from its Colonization to the Present Day. Baltimore: F. Lucas Jr., Cushing & Sons, and William and Joseph Neal, 1831.

McSherry, James. History of Maryland from its Settlement in 1634 to the Year 1848. Baltimore: John Murphy & Co., Printers and Publishers, 1852.

McSherry, James . History of Maryland. Edited by Bartlett B. James. Baltimore: Baltimore Book Co, 1904.

Myers, J. Jay. “Washington’s Dire Straights,” for American History Magazine as published on, accessed August 11, 2005.

Meyers, Minor, Jr. Liberty without Anarchy: A History of the Society of the Cincinnati. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983

Oxford English Dictionary online.

Papenfuse, Edward C. and Gregory A. Stiverson. “General Smallwood’s Recruits: The Peacetime Career of the Revolutionary War Private.” William and Mary Quarterly 3rd Series, vol. 30, no. 1, (January 1973): 117-132.

Radoff, Morris, Ph.D. The Old Line State. Annapolis: Hall of Records Commission, 1971.

William Sands to Honoured Father and Mother, August 14, 1776 [see Governor’s Commission on Maryland Military Monument box 1 MSA T-3277].

Scharf, J. Thomas. History of Maryland, vol. 2. 1879. Reprint, Hatsboro: Tradition Press, 1967.

Sutherland, Daniel E. “‘Altamont’ of the Tribune: John Williamson Palmer in the Civil War,” Maryland Historical Magazine, 78 (1983): 54-66.

Steiner, Bernard Christian, ed. Archives of Maryland vol. 18 -Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution 1775-1783. Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1899.

Steuart, Rieman. The History of the Maryland Line in the Revolutionary War 1775-1783. Society of the Cincinnati of Maryland: n pl., 1969.

Tacyn, Mark Andrew. “‘To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution.” Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 1999.

de Vere, M. Schele. Americanisms; The English of the New World. New York: Charles Scribner & Co., 1872.

Winder, Winder, “History of Maryland,”The Journal of the Times 1, (Sept. 12-Nov. 7, 1818); 

Maryland: A Guide to the Old Line State. Compiled by workers of the Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Maryland, American Guide Series. New York: Oxford University Press, 1934. 

Newspaper Articles

“Maryland Line Perpetuates State’s War Fame,” The Sun, May 11, 1913, morning edition.

“New York Hunts Bones of Famed Md. Regiment,” Washington Post-Time Herald, January, 1957.

“Remembering the Battle of Brooklyn; History: Beneath an auto repair shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., are the neglected graves of 256 Maryland soldiers killed in the biggest battle of the Revolution,” The Baltimore Sun, September 1, 1996, Local News, p. 14C, Carroll edition.

Maryland Gazette, September 5, 1776, 1-2.

Maryland Gazette, September 12, 1776, 2-3.

Argetsinger, Amy, “State House Wins Out as Image on Md. Quarter,” The Washington Post, June 2, 1999, Metro sec., p. B1.

Haberman, Clyde and Laurie Johnston, “Old Stone House Gets Flags at Last,” The New York Times, August 30, 1982, Metropolitan Desk sec. B, p. 3, col. 3.

Henry, Frank, “America’s Most Precious Hour,” The Baltimore Sun, September 16, 1951.

Koterba, Edward V. “Shrine to Gen. Smallwood Planned by Marylanders,” The Washington Post and Times Herald, January 3, 1955.

McCardell, Lee. “Proud History of Dandy Fifth,” review of History of the 175th Infantry (Fifth Maryland) by James Brewer, The Evening Sun, September 16, 1955.

Merwin, Jay. “Monument in N.Y. honors Md.,” The Evening Sun, August 21, 1991.

————, “Burial mound just a memory,” [Baltimore Sun or The Evening Sun] August 1991 (prob.).

Montgomery, Lori. “Two-Bi Identity Crisis; Imprint Befuddles the Free--Make That 'Old Line'—State,” The Washington Post, March 14, 2000, Metro sec., p. B1.

Novak, Josephine. “Continental General and Governor: Smallwood a Leader in War, Peace,” The Evening Sun, June 2, 1976, Accent section, B1.

Roylance, Frank D. “Md. soldiers' sacrifice remembered; Brooklyn: The 256 Marylanders who lost their lives in a 1776 New York battle rest in one of the most forlorn military gravesites in the nation. Members of an American Legion post fight to keep their memory alive,” The Baltimore Sun, August 27, 1996, Telegraph sec., p. 1A. 

Swann, Rita. “N.Y Dedication Tells Glory of MD Soldiers,” The Baltimore American, August 29, 1937, 12.

Valentine, Paul W. “256 Maryland Soldiers Remembered in Brooklyn,” The Washington Post, August 27, 1991, Metro sec., p. B6.


Tunis, Edward. A historical and literary map of the Old Line State of Maryland showing forth divers curious and notable facts relating to scenes, incidents and persons worthy to be recalled on the State's three hundredth anniversary, 1934, MSA SC 1427-1-326, also MSA SC 2111-1-166. 


Joint Resolution No. 4, Laws of Maryland 1952.

MSA Internal Research Files

Maryland State Archives Topic files (MSA SC1456):

Cincinnati, Society of SC1456-287, Maryland Line SC1456-662, Gen. William Smallwood SC1456-953, George Washington SC1456-1126, George Washington – Correspondence SC1456-1127, Old Line State SC1456-1379, Maryland 400 Monument Rededication SC1456-1762

Biographical files: William Smallwood SC1138-001-1134

Papenfuse Topic File Collection: “Nickname for Maryland: Old Line State, Terrapin State; Free State, etc. from Mencken, AED, De Vere,” SC1916-B27-F535

Military Monuments Commission (General File), 1989-1998, boxes 1 –6, T3277.

In response to msaref entry MSA SC 5458-51-784 re: the rosters and details of the Maryland 400, we produced a document packet – tentatively entitled "the Battle of Long Island." This work consists mainly of copies from the topic files and responses to earlier (c.1970-1990) reference requests, but does not examine the relationship between the Maryland Line’s stand at the Battle of Long Island and the eventual nickname “the Old Line” state.

Online Primary Resources

[ Keyword searches: old line, Maryland Line, William Smallwood, Long Island, Mordecai Gist, Gowanus, Brooklyn (and variations thereof). The only use of the term "Old Line" was in a news article about the issuance of the Maryland quarter in 2000, and a reference from the New Guide to the Old Line State.]

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875

The George Washington Papers at Library of Congress, 1741-1799

Papers of George Washington     (University of Virginia)

Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources1745-1799 Edited by John C. Fitzpatrick (1931-44)

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