Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

James Lamb
MSA SC 3520-17214

Biography: 

James Lamb enlisted as a private in the Fourth Company of the First Maryland Regiment on May 8, 1776, at the outset of the American Revolution. The company was largely drawn from Harford County, and was part of Maryland's first contingent of full-time, professional soldiers raised to be part of the Continental Army, and Lamb was one of the last men to join. The company was initially stationed in Baltimore, where it trained until early July. On July 9, 1776, the First Maryland Regiment was ordered to march north to New York, to protect the city from invasion by the British. Just days before it left, the company was assigned a new commander, Captain Daniel Bowie, and had only 58 men, instead of the 74 soldiers in a full strength company. [1]

On August 27, a month after arriving in New York, the Americans clashed with the British at the Battle of Brooklyn (also called the Battle of Long Island), the first full-scale encounter of the American Revolution. 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, Lamb's company among them, 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. One of the Fourth Company's sergeants, William McMillan, described what happened:

We were surrounded by Healanders [Scottish Highlanders] [on] one side, Hessians on the other...My captain was killed, first lieutenant was killed, second lieutenant shot through the hand, two sergeants was killed; one in front of me…my bayonet was shot off my gun...My brother [Sergeant Samuel McMillan] and I and 50 or 60 of us was taken…The Hessians broke the butts of our guns over their cannon and robbed us of everything we had, lit their pipes with our money…gave us nothing to eat for five days, and then [only] moldy biscuits…blue, moldy, full of bugs and rotten. [2]

All told, the company lost 80 percent of its men, killed like Bowie, or captured like McMillan. Only the company's drummer, a dozen privates, and a sergeant made it back to the American lines. The Marylanders took enormous causalities, with other companies losing nearly as many men as the Fourth, but their action had delayed the British long enough for the rest of the Continental Army to escape, earning themselves the moniker "Maryland 400." [3]

Lamb's fate at the battle is not known. He does not appear in any other military records during the war. He may have been among those killed in combat at some point in 1776, or may simply of not been mentioned any more.

Owen Lourie, 2016

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 13; Proceedings of the Conventions of the Province of Maryland, 1774-1776, Archives of Maryland Online vol. 78, p. 198; Return of Ramsey's, Smith's, and Bowie's companies, 9 July 1776, Maryland Historical Society, Revolutionary War Collection, MS 1814.

[2] The experience of the Fourth Company is described in the pension of William McMillan, one of the company's sergeants. See Letter, William MaCmillan to Secretary of Treasury, ca. October 1828. Pension of William MaCmillan, National Archives and Records Administration, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, NARA M804, S 2806, p. 33-35, from Fold3.com.

[3] Return of the Maryland troops, 27 September 1776, from Fold3.com; Mark Andrew Tacyn, “’To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 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.

Return to James Lamb's Introductory Page


 
 
 


This web site is presented for reference purposes under the doctrine of fair use. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: The site may contain material from other sources which may be under copyright. Rights assessment, and full originating source citation, is the responsibility of the user.


Tell Us What You Think About the Maryland State Archives Website!


[ Archives' Home Page  ||  Maryland Manual On-Line  ||  Reference & Research
||  Search the Archives   ||  Education & Outreach  ||  Archives of Maryland Online ]

Governor     General Assembly    Judiciary     Maryland.Gov

© Copyright Tuesday, 13-Aug-2019 09:27:29 EDT Maryland State Archives