Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Henry Chew Gaither (1751-1811)
MSA SC 3520-16748


Henry Chew Gaither Sr., was born in 1751 to Martha (Ridgely) Gaither and Henry Gaither. He grew up in Anne Arundel County in a family with twelve siblings. Gaither’s father passed his land to all of his children when he died in 1780. Gaither acted as one of three executor of his father’s will along with his one of his brothers, William, and his mother, Martha. His father left him part of “Gaither’s Forest,” with the other half going to his brother Beale. Gaither never married but became the legal guardian of numerous young relatives later in life. [1]

Gaither’s lifelong military service began during the Revolutionary War. He was an ensign in Gen. Smallwood’s Maryland regiment in early 1776 and a second Lieutenant later that year. From 1776 until 1780, he was captain of the Second Company in the First Maryland Regiment. [2]

Gaither participated in the Battle of Brooklyn where, as the British Parliament's Annual Register described it, “almost a whole regiment from Maryland…of young men from the best families in the country was cut to pieces” but drew men closer together. At the Battle of Brooklyn, the First Maryland Regiment held off the British while the rest of the Continental Army escaped Long Island to safety. [3]

The night before the Battle of Brooklyn, Gaither acted as a witness to Daniel Bowie’s will. Although Bowie, captain of the decimated Fourth Company, died at Brooklyn, Gaither survived and continued to serve in the military. He served as the captain for the First Maryland Regiment’s Second Company from late 1776 to 1780. Gaither later served as a captain in the Fourth Regiment between 1781 and 1783. He briefly returned to the First Regiment in early 1783, remaining there until the war’s end. [4]

Following the Revolutionary War, Gaither became a founding member of the Society of Cincinnati's chapter in Maryland. This society served as a fraternal order for Continental Army officers to reminisce or bond over shared war stories. It also had a political agenda to pressure states and Congress to honor their promises to officers and worked to uphold the “future dignity of the American empire.” [5]

Gaither returned to the military in the 1790s. He served in the U.S. Army First Regiment as a major from 1791 to 1792, and then in 1793 became a Lieutenant Colonel Commandant, commanding troops on rivers such as the Oconee in Georgia. Gaither served as a major on the Western frontier, leading a "battalion of levies" in 1791, and fought in Arthur St. Clair’s campaign against indigenous groups such as the Potawatomi, Ottawa, and Chippewa. One obituary praised his “usefulness against Indians upon our frontier," especially in Georgia. Still, one of his former officers described Gaither as an "ignorant, debauched, unprincipled old bachelor" who appeared "willing to purest character to gratify the spleen of his soul." Gaither continued to serve in the military and was honorably discharged in 1802. [6]

Gaither owned a plantation in Georgetown. This property had a three-story Georgian style brick house, larger than the typical houses of that time. He was a well-off plantation owner and landowner, as his will shows he owned property in Washington D.C., the Eastern Branch of the Potomac, Montgomery County, Alleghany County, and the Northwest Territory along with a small number of enslaved blacks. He also had hundreds of acres worth of bounty warrants, which were issued to Revolutionary War veterans. His farm in Montgomery County had an apple orchard and nursery, a barn, stables, servant’s quarters, and a huge brick house. [7]

Henry Chew Gaither died in Georgetown on June 25, 1811 at 61 years old. He was honored in a funeral procession including citizens of nearby towns, local government officials, heads of Federal Government Departments, clergy, physicians, and military officers. There is no doubt that at his death he was well honored by people within the military and different levels of government. [8]

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


[1] Will of Henry Gaither, Montgomery County Register of Wills, Wills, 1780, Box 1, folder 88, MdHR 16543-1-1/91 [MSA C1142-1, 1/17/8/40]; Harry Wright Newman, Anne Arundel Gentry: A Genealogical History of Some Early Families of Anne Arundel County, Maryland: vol. 1, 90, 93, 98-100; Robert Barnes, ed., Marriages and Deaths from Baltimore Newspapers, 1796-1816 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978), 120; Robert Barnes, ed., Marriages and Deaths from the Maryland Gazette, 1727-1839 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1978), 65.

[2] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1781, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 47, p. 34; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July 7 - December 31, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, p. 16.

[3] Mark Andrew Tacyn, ""To the End": The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution," pp. 48-73.

[4] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 47, p. 34; Francis B. Heitman, Historical Register of Officers of the Continental Army during the War of the Revolution, April 1775 to December 1783 (Washington, D.C.: Rare Book Shop Publishing Company, 1914), 240.

[5] Reiman Steuart, A History of the Maryland Line in the Revolutionary War (Towson, MD: Metropolitan Press, 1969), p. 167.

[6] Heitman, p. 240; Alan D. Gaff, Bayonets in the Wilderness: Anthony Wayne's Legion in the Old Northwest (University of Oklahoma Press, 2004), pp. 4, 35, 47, 304; William Heath, William Wells and the Struggle for the Old Northwest (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015) 149; Newman, Anne Arundel Gentry, vol. 1, 100; Federal Republican Commercial Gazette (Baltimore), 29 June 1811.

[7] "Valuable Property for Sale," 28 January 1813, Daily National Intelligencer (Washington, D.C.), 28 January 1813; Will of Henry Gaither; Assessments of 1793, 1795, 1796 and 1797, Montgomery County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Record, MdHR 20015-1-1, p. 115-116, 159, 228, 256, 268 [MSA C1110-1, 1/18/14/17]; Assessments of 1813 and 1816, Montgomery County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Record, MdHR 20015-3-1, p. 53, 99, 130 [MSA C1110-3, 1/18/14/19]; Assessments of 1798, 1801, 1802, 1804, 1811, Montgomery County Commissioners of the Tax, Assessment Record, MdHR 20015-2-1, p. 94, 33, 138, 146, 151, 163, 205, 265, 406, 424 [MSA C1110-2, 1/18/14/18]; General Assembly House of Delegates, Assessment Records, 1783, 3-4, 18 [MSA S1161-78, 1/4/5/51]; Pension of Henry Gaither, National Archives and Records Administration, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, B.L.Wt. 854-300,

[8] Barnes, Marriages and Deaths from Baltimore Newspapers, 1796-1816, 120; Federal Republican and Commercial Gazette, 29 June 1811; Montgomery County Register of Wills, Estate Papers, Henry Chew Gaither, 1811, Liber I, box 4 [MSA T416-4, 1/17/9/38]; Montgomery County Register of Wills, Orphans Court Proceedings, 1811, MdHR 12418, p. 19-21 [MSA C1135-2, 1/17/08/34].

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