Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

John Day Scott (1748-1776)
MSA SC 3520-16720

Biography:

Born in Stepney Parish, Somerset County, Maryland on October 15, 1748, John Day Scott grew up on his father Day Scott's farm with his family. He had one brother, Day Scott (1746-1773), a half-brother George Day Scott (1736-1796), four half-sisters, Betty (1731-?), Marry (1735-?), Nanney (1739-?) and Sarah (1742-?) and a step sister, Esther. However, in his childhood, Scott was plagued with the early deaths of his parents. Scott's mother, Esther Dashiel (1720-1748) died within months of Scott's birth.[1] Moreover, in 1757, his father passed away, leaving 398 acres in Somerset County entirely to his older half-brother, George Day Scott.[2] In 1776, with the chance of moving up in society and making a name for himself, Scott joined the Army.[3]

Thus, John Day Scott's military career began on January 3, 1776, when he was commissioned as a captain of the Seventh Company in the First Maryland Regiment under the command of William Smallwood.[4]

The Seventh Company's first engagement with the British occurred during Battle of Brooklyn on August 27, 1776. During the battle, the Continental Army led by George Washington attempted to defend New York from the British. However, the British Army outflanked the Americans.[5] As one Maryland soldier recounted, "the main body of their army, by a route we never dreamed of, had entirely surrounded us."[6]

As they retreated, Scott's company was ambushed by a platoon of British soldiers. However, "fighting with more than Roman courage," the First Maryland Regiment forced the British back allowing Scott and his company to escape across the Gowanus Creek to the fortified American lines, while other companies were forced to travel up the stream. Those companies ultimately confronted and fought another British platoon. These charges by the Marylanders and the bravery they showed earned them the title of the "Maryland 400."[7]

Between August and October of 1776, the American Army was forced out of New York after a series of unsuccessful engagements with the British. Ever since the beginning of the American Revolution, General Howe, through strategic military maneuvers, attempted to incapacitate the Continental Army.[8] Thus, on October 28, 1776, Washington, in an attempt to defend the Continental Army from another attack, stationed his troops just north of New York on the hills surrounding the village of White Plains.

In particular, Washington stationed the First Maryland Regiment on Chatterton Hill, which both overlooked the Bronx River and served as an advantageous position. However, once the British successfully crossed the Bronx River, the Battle at White Plains began. General Smallwood's men, including Scott, were ordered to head down the hill to fight back the British.[9] However, the British prevailed and as one Maryland soldier detailed, “Smallwood’s [men] suffered most, on this occasion, sustaining, with great patience and coolness, a long and heavy fire–and finally retreated with great sullenness, being obliged to give way to a superior force.”[10]

During the battle, as detailed in a letter to Annapolis, "Captain Scott is mortally wounded; indeed I fear he is dead at this moment."[11] As suspected, Scott had in fact died of his injury at the battle.[12]

-Joshua Rifkin, 2015

Notes:

[1]  Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., eds, A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), 716-717.

[2] Papenfuse, Day, Jordan, and Stiverson, 716-717.

[3] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 15.

[4] Archives of Maryland, vol. 18, p. 15.

[5] Mark Andrew Tacyn, "To the End: The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution," (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 48-73.

[6] Extract of a letter from New-York: Account of the battle on Long-Island, 1 September  1776, American Archives Online, series 5, vol. 2, p. 107.

[7] Tacyn, 48-73; Extract of a letter from New-York, 1 September 1776.

[8] Tacyn, 48-104.

[9] Tacyn, 98-104; David Hackett Fisher, Washington’s Crossing, (Oxford University Press, 2004), 111;  “Extract of another letter, dated in the evening of the above day,” Maryland Gazette, November 7, 1776, Maryland Gazette Collection, Image 1202, MSA SC 2731.

[10] “Extract of another letter, dated in the evening of the above day,” Maryland Gazette, November 7, 1776.

[11] " Extract of a Letter from White-Plains to a gentleman in Annapolis," American Archives Online, series 5, vol. 2, p. 1284.

[12] “Extract of another letter, dated in the evening of the above day,”  November 7, 1776.

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