Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

George Lashley (1755-1831)
MSA SC 3520-17212

Biography:

George Lashley, sometimes spelled Leslie or Lashly, was likely born in Cecil County, in 1755. [1] In Feburary 1776, at the age of 21, he enlisted in Captain Nathaniel Ramsey's Fifth Company, part of the First Maryland Regiment, at a public house called Battle Swamp tavern, near present-day Woodlawn, Maryland. [2] He was present among the Maryland 400 at the Battle of Brooklyn. The First Maryland Regiment were the first troops Maryland raised at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Maryland was more than willing to do its part to recruit the men needed to fill the Continental Army's depleted ranks. [3] A few days after independence was declared, the First Maryland Regiment was ordered to New York so it could join the forces of General George Washington. The regiment arrived there in early August, with the Battle of Brooklyn set between the Continental Army and the British Army, joined by their Hessian allies.

He and his company served at the Battle of Brooklyn in late August 1776. Ramsey's company, Lashley included, was placed at the front of the lines, but "hardly a man [in the company] fell," even though they took the first line of fire from the British. [4] This 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" but it brought men of the Maryland 400 together. [5] Years later, Captain Enoch Anderson of the Delaware Regiment wrote about the Battle of Brooklyn, saying the following:

"A little before day, we marched towards the enemy, two miles from our camp we saw them. A little after daylight our Regiment and Colonel Smallwood's Regiment from Maryland, in front of the enemy took possession of a high commanding ground,--our right to the harbour. Cannonading now began in both armies...Colonel Smallwood's Regiment took another course,--they were surrounded but they fought hard. They lost about two hundred men, the rest got in. A hard day this, for us poor Yankees! Superior discipline and numbers had overcome us. A gloomy time it was, but we solaced ourselves that at some other time we should do better." [6]

The Battle of Brooklyn, the first large-scale battle, 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.

In December 1776, Maryland reorganized its soldiers and Lashley re-enlisted as a private for three more years. [7] During that term of service, Lashley took part in the defense of Philadelphia, as the Americans sought to protect their capital from the British, likely fighting at the battles of Brandywide and Germantown in 1777. He probably also saw combat at the Battle of Monmouth (1778), and untold smaller skirmishes and engagements. The Americans also had severe supply problems during this period, and the soldiers of the Continental Army suffered greatly from starvation and illness. He was discharged in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1779. [7] He may have been one of the "old soldiers" who was discharged on December 27, 1779 which was, for the regiment, "a sad moment and a symbolic passing of the torch" since these soldiers had formed the main character of the regiment, meaning it became the responsibility of recruits mainly from 1777 and 1778 to "sustain the regiment to the end of the war." [8]

After the war, Lashley continued to live in the state. On April 25, 1816, Lashley married Jane Bashford, a 41-year-old woman, in Cecil County. [9] In September 1820, when he began receiving his federal pension, despite losing his discharge papers, Lashley was living in the same county with his wife and had no children or heirs. [10] Since his memory was failing him, he originally said he was part of the Second Maryland Regiment, but later corrected himself and two long-time residents recalled seeing him march "away with the said [Ramsey's] Company." [11] In 1827, George Lashley received payment from the State of Maryland equal to half pay of a private as a result of his service in the Revolutionary War. [13] He continued to receive payments quartetly until his death on March 4, 1831 at the age of 76. [14] Five years later, his declared legal representatives, Mary Sproul and Nancy Lashly, received the money that was due to him before his death. [15]

Notes

[1] George Lashley Pension. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. National Archives. Record Group 15. NARA M804. Roll 1528. Pension number S. 34951. Courtesy of Fold3.com.

[2] George Lashley Pension; Industries of MarylandA Descriptive Review of the Manufacturing and Mercantile Industries of the City of Baltimore (New York: Historical Publishing Company, 1882), 59; "Cecil County," May 21, 1811, Federal Republican & Commercial Gazette, Baltimore, p. 2; "Harrison and Reform," Aug. 29, 1840, The pilot and transcript, Baltimore, p. 2. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. <http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83016475/1840-08-29/ed-1/seq-2/>; "Proceedings of the Legislature of Maryland," Jan. 25, 1827, Maryland Gazette, Annapolis, issue 4. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Web. 15 July 2016; Gazetteer of Maryland (1941), Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 478, 11; The Laws of Maryland from the End of the Year 1799, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 192, 2645; Session Laws, 1827 Session, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 474, 261, 275; Session Laws, 1858, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 624, 414; Charles D. Walcott, Twenty-First Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey to the Secretary of the Interior 1899-1900. Part L (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1900), 216, 445. Battle Swamp was a place that is three miles from Port Deposit, and is at the point of what is called Woodlawn on modern maps, near the Susquenana River, at the location known as the Bell's Ferry Road and "just below the mouth of a run called Bateman's Fresh." One book says that the tavern was located in front of Hopewell United Methodist Church. The tavern is also mentioned in Chancery Papers from 1840 as land broken off between different owners.

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

[4] "Extract of a letter from New York: Account of the battle on Long Island." American Archives S5 V2 107-108.

[5] Mark Andrew Tacyn, "'To The End:' The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution" (PhD Diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 4.

[6] Enoch Anderson, Personal Recollections of Captain Enoch Anderson: Eyewitness Accounts of the American Revolution (New York: New York Times & Arno Press, 1971), 21-22.

[7] George Lashley Pension.

[8] Tacyn, 210.

[10] George Lashley Pension; Marriage of George Leslie and Jane Bashford, 1816, Marriage Licenses, Cecil County Court, MdHR 9435, p. 247 [MSA C632-1, 1/11/6/38].

[11] George Lashley Pension.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Session Laws, 1826 Session. Archives of Maryland Online vol. 437, 253.

[14] George Lashley Pension; State Pension of George Lashley, Treasurer of the Western Shore, Pension Roll, MdHR 4534-4, p. 36, 48 [MSA S613-1, 2/63/10/33].

[14] Session Laws, 1835 Session. Archives of Maryland Online vol. 214, 754. While his pension says he has no heirs, this legislation says "the heirs and legal representatives of George Lashly." It is possible that this language is just a formality, but there is no explanation as to why Lashley had heirs by his death or if the legal representatives are his children.

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