Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Peter Clarke
MSA SC 3520-17419

Biography:

Peter Clarke enlisted as a sergeant into the First Maryland Regiment on March 7, 1776. He left his home state of Maryland as part of Captain Patrick Sim’s Second Company in July of 1776 and took part in the Battle of Brooklyn (otherwise known as the Battle of Long Island) on August 27, 1776. Although the battle was a defeat for the Americans, the valiant defense by Clarke and the other soldiers of the “Maryland 400” held off the British long enough to allow much of the trapped American army to escape. Clarke was one of the brave men who survived that day, his company losing fewer ten men. Clarke and his fellow Marylanders went on to take part in the rest of the major battles of the 1776 campaign, such as the Battle of White Plains, the Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Princeton. [1]

After the 1776 campaign, the Continental Army found itself with an unmet need for officers. To fill this gap, higher-ranking noncommissioned officers were quickly promoted up the lines and were moved across regiments. On February 20, 1777 Clarke was promoted to second lieutenant and was transferred to serve in the Third Maryland Regiment under Colonel Mordecai Gist and Captain Benjamin Brookes.

As one with military experience, Clarke quickly became part of the strong veteran core that made up the Maryland Line of Washington’s Army. Although Clarke often worked with recruitment efforts, he also helped handle those injured. In a letter addressed to Governor Thomas Sim Lee, Clarke spoke for a soldier who was not able to march to Philadelphia due to an infected dog bite on his leg, stating that he would gladly be answerable for him while asking if the soldier was "obliged to contribute in a Class of Militia." As a lieutenant, he also was often in charge of purchasing new uniforms or other supplies that those within the company might need. He resigned from the Army in July of 1779. [2]

It is unclear what Clarke’s life was like after he left the army. There were multiple people in Maryland with the same name. No further definitive information is known about his life.

-Taylor Blades, 2017

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 7.

[2] Reiman Steuart, The Maryland Line (The Society of the Cincinnati, 1971), p. 16; Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1780-1781, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 45, p. 29; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War. NARA M881. From Fold3.com; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 95; Journal and Correspondence of the State Council, 1777-1778, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 16, p. 519; Journal and Correspondence of the State Council, 1778-1779, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 21, p. 304.

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