Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

John Allerdine
MSA SC 3520-17390

Biography:

John Allerdine (simetimes spelled Allerdice) enlisted in Captain Edward Veazey's Seventh Independent Company in 1776, volunteering in the early days of the American Revolution to defend Maryland from a feared British invasion. At the time, he was a twenty-three-year-old Scot. [1]

Maryland's independent companies were formed in early 1776, and differed from the nine companies that made up Colonel William Smallwood’s First Maryland Regiment. While the Council of Safety, Maryland's Revolutionary executive body, used the nine companies of regular troops to fulfill the state's quota for the Continental Army, it dispatched seven independent companies throughout Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore to guard the vast shoreline of the Chesapeake Bay. Half of the Seventh Independent Company was stationed on Kent Island, while the rest, including Allerdine, were sent to Chestertown. In these first months, the company had great difficulty obtaining supplies, including uniforms and weapons. In the summer of 1776, Congress requested additional troops from Maryland to help reinforce the Continental Army, and the state agreed to shift the independent companies to that duty. When the First Maryland Regiment marched for New York in early July, it was accompanied by the Fourth, Fifth and Seventh independent companies; the rest followed later that fall. [2]

The Marylanders arrived in New York in early August, and prepared to protect the city from attack by the British. On August 27, 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. Half the regiment was able to cross the creek to safety. The rest, Allerdine's company among them, were unable to do so before they were attacked by the British. Facing down a much larger, better-trained force, these men, now known as the "Maryland 400," mounted a series of daring charges, which held the British at bay for some time, at the cost of many lives, before being overrun. [3]

The Seventh Independent Company suffered greatly during the battle. Its commander Captain Veazey was killed early in the fighting and two of the company's lieutenants were captured. First Lieutenant William Harrison was the sole officer in the company to escape, and only thirty six men avoided death or captivity, just a third of the company. Allerdine survived the battle; it is unknown if he was captured. [4]

In February 1777, Allerdine reenlisted, joining the newly-created Second Maryland Regiment, which was largely composed of the old independent companies. In fact, he served in a company with many members of the old Seventh Independent. During his second enlistment, his unit saw combat at the Battle of Staten Island in August 1777. They also fought to defend the American capital at Philadelphia, facing off against the British at the battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Allerdine signed on for a three-year term, and served until at least September 1779; his discharge date is not known. No other information is known about his life. [5]

Owen Lourie, 2017

Notes:

[1] Descriptions of men in Capt. Edward Veazey’s Independent Company, 1776, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, MdHR 19970-15-36/01 [MSA S997-15-36, 1/7/3/13].

[2] Mark Andrew Tacyn “’To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 33-34, 43; Journal of the Maryland Convention and Council of Safety 1775-1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 11, pps. 318, 468; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July-December, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, p. 4.  

[3] Tacyn, 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.

[4] Extract of a letter from an officer in the Maryland Battalion, 28 August 1776, American Archives, series 5, vol. 1, p. 1195; Return of the Maryland troops, 27 September 1776, from Fold3.com.

[5] Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, from Fold3.com; Muster Roll, Second Maryland Regiment, Hardman's Co., September 1779, Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, from Fold3.com.

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