Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

William Wright (1754-?)
MSA SC 3520-17325

Biography:

William Wright was born in 1754, likely on Maryland's Eastern Shore. [1] In early 1776, at age 22, Wright enlisted as a private in Edward Veazey's Seventh Independent Company. [2] He was five feet, five and half inches tall. Many of those in the Seventh Independent Company were recruited from Kent, Cecil, and Queen Anne counties, and were in their twenties. [3] The average age was about twenty-five, but soldiers born in the thirteen colonies were slightly younger than those from foreign countries. [4]

The independent companies, early in the war, had a different role than William Smallwood's First Maryland Regiment. They had the role of securing the Chesapeake Bay's shoreline from British attack. Smallwood's men, on the other hand, were raised as full-time Maryland soldiers as part of the Continental Army, and were divided between Annapolis and Baltimore. The Seventh Independent Company was stationed in Kent County's Chestertown and on Kent Island in Queen Anne County. [5] During this time, Veazey was uneasy that his company did not receive "arms nor ammunition" until June. [6]

While the independent companies were originally intended to defend Maryland, three of them accompanied the First Maryland Regiment when it marched to New York in July 1776. The transfer of the independent companies to the Continental Army showed that Maryland was more than willing to do its part to recruit the men needed for the revolutionary cause. [7] The independent companies and the First Maryland Regiment arrived in New York in early August, with the Battle of Brooklyn set between the Continental Army and the British Army, joined by their Hessian allies.

Wright served with his company at the Battle of Brooklyn in late August 1776. Along with the companies of Daniel Bowie and Peter Adams, which suffered heavy casualties, sixty-eight percent of Veazey's company were killed or captured. Specifically, Captain Veazey was killed while Second Lieutenant Samuel Turbett Wright and Third Lieutenant Edward De Coursey were captured. [8] As a result of Veazey's death, First Lieutenant William Harrison took charge of the company. After the battle, only 36 men remained out of the original force of over 100. [9] The loss of life 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" even as the battle brought the men of the Maryland 400 together. [10]

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

By the spring of 1777, the command of the Seventh Independent Company was uncertain since Wright and De Coursey were prisoners, Veazey had been killed, and Harrison had resigned. [11] As a result, the company, among with the other independent companies, became part of the Second Maryland Regiment.

Wright's fate at the Battle of Brooklyn cannot be ascertained. If he survived, he may have served in a Maryland regiment. [12] Since three men with the same name served in the Maryland Line, the number and name of the unit cannot be determined. No further information is known.

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

Notes

[1] Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp, 1776, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, MdHR 19970-15-36/01 [MSA S997-15-36, 1/7/3/13]. Sometimes his last name is spelled Sertain.

[2] Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp.

[3] Mark Andrew Tacyn, “'To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 24-25, 97; Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Comp.

[4] For more information, see "Demographics in the First Maryland Regiment" on the Finding the Maryland 400 research blog.

[5] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July 7-December 31, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 12, 4; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 11, 245, 272, 547, Tacyn, 33-34.

[6] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, August 29, 1775 to July 6, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online Vol. 11, 318, 468; Tacyn, 37, 39.

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

[8] "Mortuary Notice," Salem Gazette, Salem, Massachusetts, March 1, 1833, Vol. XI, issue 18, p. 3.

[9] Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, p. 92, From Fold3.com; Tacyn, 98.

[10] Tacyn, 4.

[11] List of Regular Officers by Chamberlaine, December 1776, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, MdHR 4573, Liber 12, p. 66 [MSA S989-17, 1/6/4/5].

[12] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution Archives of Maryland Online vol. 18, 175, 176; Muster rolls of the Second Maryland Regiment, Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783, National Archives, NARA M246, Record Group 93, Roll 0033, Folder 15. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Service Card of William Wright (Fifth Maryland Regiment), Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, Record Group 93, Roll 0405. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Service Card of William Wright (Second Maryland Regiment), Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, Record Group 93, Roll 0401. Courtesy of Fold3.com; Service Card of William Wright (Third Maryland Regiment), Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, Record Group 93, Roll 0401. Courtesy of Fold3.com. There is one man named William Wright who served in the Second Maryland Regiment from May 20, 1778 to April 3, 1779, another that served in the Third Maryland Regiment from April 13, 1777 to Nov. 20, 1777, when he died. There is also another man with the same name that served in the Fifth Maryland Regiment in 1778.
 

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