Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

James Hindman (1741-1830)
MSA SC 3520-652

Biography:

James Hindman was born on June 20, 1741, in Dorchester County, Maryland, a third-generation descendent of a prominent Eastern Shore family. He was the eldest son of Jacob Hindman (by 1713-1766), a legislator, and his wife Mary (Trippe) Hindman (?-1782), and had six siblings: William, Edward, John, Mary, Elizabeth, and Sarah. Jacob was a wealthy planter and office holder, including a member of the Lower House of the General Assembly 1741-1744, sheriff of Dorchester County 1737-1740, and sheriff of Talbot County 1745-1748 and 1755-1758. James was well educated, and spent at least some time "beyond sea." [1]

As tensions between America and Britain rose through the 1760s and 1770s, Hindman emerged as a strong supporter of American independence. In 1775, he joined Talbot County's committee of observation, the Revolutionary leadership group. The next year, he was named the captain of the Fourth Independent Company; his younger brother Edward was one of the company's lieutenants. Maryland's independent companies were formed early in the American Revolution, and differed from the nine companies that made up Colonel William Smallwood’s First Maryland Regiment. While the Council of Safety, Maryland's Revolutionary executive body, used the nine regular companies to fulfill the state's quota of troops for the Continental Army, it dispatched seven independent companies throughout Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore to guard the vast shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay. To help with this mission, the Fourth Independent Company was stationed in Oxford, Talbot County, in March 1776. Captains of independent companies were responsible for outfitting their men, and Hindman supplied his soldiers with striking uniforms, purple hunting shirts with red capes and cuffs, which distinguished them from the rest of the Marylanders. [2]

Although the Council of Safety originally intended to use the independent companies for the defense of Maryland, the Council was sympathetic to the collective needs of the colonies and answered the Continental Congress’ request for more soldiers early in the summer of 1776. On July 7, 1776 the Council ordered the Fourth Independent Company, along with the nine companies that made up Colonel William Smallwood’s First Maryland Regiment and two other independent companies, to march to Philadelphia and then to New York to reinforce the Continental Army under the command of General George Washington. Hindman's company was delayed just as it departed, so it did not reach New York until several weeks after the rest of the Marylanders, probably in mid-August. [3]

A few weeks later, on August 27, 1776, the Americans faced the British Army at the Battle of Brooklyn (sometimes called the Battle of Long Island), the first major engagement of the war. The battle was a rout: the British were able to sneak around the American lines, and the outflanked Americans fled in disarray. During the retreat, the Maryland troops fought their way towards the American fortifications, but were blocked by the swampy Gowanus Creek. While half the regiment was able to cross the creek, the rest were unable to do so before they were attacked by the British. Facing down a much larger, better-trained force, the Marylanders mounted a series of daring charges, which held the British at bay for some time, at the cost of many lives, before being overrun. The Marylanders earned themselves the moniker "Maryland 400," and lost 256 men killed or captured, probably about a third of their total strength. [4]

Hindman's company was spared the worst of the fighting, losing just three men. They played only a limited part in the battle, probably because they had only recently arrived. However, their role drew scorn from other soldiers. Hindman was forced to write to the Council of Safety to clear his name, denying the "report [being] spread among Capt. [John Hoskins] Stone's friends that my company the day we were engaged at Long Island, behaved very ill." To the contrary, wrote Hindman, "I have had the vanity to think the company I have had the honor to command have behaved themselves as well as [any] in the service, notwithstanding the dark insinuations that have been thrown out to their prejudice." Hindman himself believed that the Americans' poor performance that day was the fault of an inadequate command structure: "the want of Field officers," since the Marylanders had only their major, Mordecai Gist, to command a dozen companies. It was not enough officers, and far too many companies. [5]

In October, Hindman was dispatched to Philadelphia on a mission to purchase badly-needed supplies for the army. It is possible that Hindman was selected for the duty since, as a wealthy man, he was able to spend his own money for the goods. Meanwhile, the Marylanders fought on through the rest of 1776. They fought a series of battles in New York: Harlem Heights in September, White Plains in October, and Fort Washington in November. While the Americans had some tactical successes at these engagements, by November they had been pushed out of New York entirely, though they secured key revitalizing victories at Trenton and Princeton late that winter. [6]

At the end of 1776, as the Maryland Line was reorganized and expanded, Hindman was appointed lieutenant colonel of the Fifth Maryland Regiment. He held that position for only a short time, resigning in April 1777 to become the Treasurer of the Eastern Shore. The office had been vacated by his brother William, who had just been elected to the state Senate; William became a prominent political leader in Maryland, and served in Congress from the 1780s until the early 1800s. James himself was treasurer for less than a year, and was succeeded by another brother, Edward. [7]

Even after Hindman stepped down as treasurer, he remained a fixture of public life. He was a member of Maryland's Executive Council, which served alongside the governor, 1777-1779 and 1786-1789. He also served in the House of Delegates 1780-1784. In November 1780, while the House was in session, Hindman was censured for insulting some of the delegates with whom he disagreed on an issue. While in a tavern one night, Hindman declared that "some...were fools...others of them were misled, and that a great part of them were villains and scoundrels," as well as "rascals, scoundrels, and fools." One delegate, perhaps Samuel Chase, was "crazy, a fool, or out of his senses." Hindman also was a justice of the Queen Anne's County Court from 1788 until around 1800, in addition to operating as a merchant on the Eastern Shore and in Baltimore. [8]

Hindman's first wife, Marian Anderson, who he had married around 1774, died in 1788. About a decade later, Hindman married again, wedding Elizabeth Hamilton in March 1797. Not long after, they shifted their residence to Baltimore, although they maintained ownership of a great deal of land on the Eastern Shore. Hindman's last public office was as a justice of the Baltimore County court 1814-1817. He died on February 18, 1830, in Baltimore City. He had no children with either of his wives, but his estate was divided among his nieces and nephews. At the time of his death, Hindman was extremely wealthy. His estate was valued at more than $75,000, including at least five slaves. [9]

Owen Lourie, 2019

Notes

1. Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., eds, A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789, Vol I. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 442-444;

2. Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 23; Reiman Steuart, The Maryland Line (The Society of the Cincinnati, 1971), 97; Proceedings of the Conventions of the Province of Maryland, 1774-1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 78, p. 68; Mark Andrew Tacyn “‘To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 33; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 11, p. 223. For Fourth Independent Company uniforms, see Pennsylvania Journal, 14 August 1776.

3. Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July 7 to December 31, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, pps. 4, 50, 120; Tacyn, 43.

4. Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, p. 9; Return of the Maryland troops, 13 September 1776, Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, folder 35, p. 85, from Fold3.com; Tacyn, 48-73. For more on the experience of the Marylanders at the Battle of Brooklyn, see "In Their Own Words," on the Maryland State Archives research blog, Finding the Maryland 400.

5. Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, p. 345-346.

6. William Smallwood, Account, 1776-1777, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, box 2, no. 4/18, MdHR 19978-2-4/18 [MSA S997-2-271, 1/7/3/8]; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, p. 345-346

7. Steuart, 97; Compiled Service Record of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, National Archives, NARA M881, from Fold3.com; Papenfuse, et al., 343-345.

8. Papenfuse, et al., 443; House of Delegates Journal, October 1780 Session, p. 21, Archives of Maryland Online, SCM 3196, no. 1125; Carl N. Everstine, The General Assembly of Maryland, 1776-1850 (Charlottesville, VA: Michie, 1982), 136-140; Mordecai Gist to George Washington, 24 November 1780,” Founders Online, National Archives.

9. Papenfuse, et al., 443-444.

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