Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Richard Coe (1754-1841)
MSA SC 3520-17421

Biography:

Richard Coe, the younger brother of fellow soldier Milburn Coe, was born near Saint John’s Parish in Prince George’s County on December 7, 1754 to John and Mary Coe. [1]

Coe enlisted into the Continental Army’s First Maryland Regiment on February 3, 1776 when he was 22 years old. At was the time of the Battle of Brooklyn (otherwise known as the Battle of Long Island) on August 27, 1776, Coe was a private within Captain Patrick Sim’s Second Company. He served alongside his brother Milburn in the same regiment during the battle, and would later serve alongside their brother Hezekiah. Although the battle was a defeat for the Americans, the valiant defense by Coe and the other soldiers of the “Maryland 400” held off the British long enough to allow much of the trapped American army to escape. Coe and his brother were two of the lucky soldiers who survived that day, their company losing fewer than ten men. [2]

After the Battle of White Plains, the Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Princeton, both of the Coe brothers reenlisted on December 10, 1776. After the reestablishment of a restructured First Maryland Regiment, these Marylanders went on to participate in every main battle fought by the Continental Army until 1780, including the battles of Staten Island, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. In these battles, the new recruits to Maryland’s forces were provided with a hardened core of experienced soldiers like Coe who were able to provide them with stability, strength, and the experience of prior confrontations. This helped with the campaign of 1777, where the First Maryland Regiment acted as a crucial aspect of Washington’s offensive force.

On November 31, 1777, Hezekiah Coe died, leaving Richard with only Milburn by his side. By early 1778, Coe had been promoted to sergeant. About a year later, on February 22, 1779, he was promoted to quartermaster sergeant while stationed in Middle Brook. As quartermaster sergeant, Coe was in charge of supervising the transport of baggage while on march and of the company's supplies. This made Coe the second most senior non-commissioned soldier in his infantry regiment. He continued to serve the Continental forces for the rest of the year before being discharged on December 27, 1779. [3]

After his service, Coe briefly moved to Alexandria, Virginia and continued to own property there once he moved back across the Potomac River to Piscataway in Prince George’s County, Maryland. Once back in Piscataway, Coe married Margaret Wood on May 8, 1784. Together they had four daughters and one son. Milburn moved out of Maryland and to Ohio in 1800, leaving Richard as the only Coe brother still in Maryland. [4]

Splitting his time between Alexandria and Piscataway for a short period eventually caused Coe legal headaches. In 1807 he had to write to the United States Circuit Court of the District of Columbia to declare he was not moving with intent of evading laws that prevented the importation of slaves. Coe had to promise he would not buy anymore slaves or sell the ones he had, but Coe's slave holding increased from three to eleven likely because of the arrival of many children from a couple he owned. [5]

Starting in April of 1818, Coe received a pension at the rate of $8 per month. In March 1831, Coe was approved to receive an additional semi-annual payment of $60. Coe had a considerable amount of money, often buying new pieces of furniture or bits of land across Prince George’s County. According to the inventory taken after his death, he had a total property worth $4,383.25, which would have put him at the average wealth for planters in the county during his lifetime. Coe owned about 254 acres of land, which would have put him in the top 50 percentof land owners in Prince George's County. He expanded his land property further on February 10, 1832, when he was issued a common warrant for fifty acres of vacant land lying in Allegany County. [6]

He died in 1841 at 87 years old, receiving his last pension payment in July of that year. Upon his death he left all of his property to his only son, George G. Coe, and his three single daughters. He made note that his married daughter, Elizabeth, could be given property if George found it necessary but that his land was not suited for division amongst all of them. [7]

Prior to his father's death, George G. Coe served in the Maryland militia during the War of 1812. In March of 1844, George was paid $30 that was due to Richard Coe at the time of his death. [8]

-Taylor Blades, 2017

Notes:

[1] Maryland Births and Christenings Index, 1662-1911, from Ancestry.com.

[2] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 8.

[3] Archives of Maryland, vol. 18, p. 91; Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783. NARA., from Fold3.com; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, from Fold3.com

[4] Maryland Compiled Marriages, 1655-1850, from Ancestry.com; Pension of Richard Coe, S. 12543. Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. NARA, from Fold3.com.

[5] U.S. Federal Census, 1790; U.S. Federal Census, 1820; Receipt for Slaves, Richard Coe, 1807, Prince George's County Court, Land Records JRM 15, p. 0174 [MSA CE 65-44].

[6] Maryland General Assembly Session Laws, 1831, Resolution 32, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 213, p. 476-477; Maryland General Assembly Session Laws, 1828-1829, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 540, p. 552; Steven Sarson, "Landlessness and Tenancy in Early National Prince George's County, Maryland". The William and Mary Quarterly, third series, vol. 57, no. 3 (2000), 569-598; David Curtis Skaggs, Roots of Maryland democracy1753-1776 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1973), 43; Assessment Records, 1831, Prince George's County Commissioners of the Tax, p. 10 [MSA C1162, 1/27/13/6].

[7] Coe Pension.

[8] Bounty-Land Warrant Applications Index. From Fold3.com; Maryland General Assembly Session Laws, 1843, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 595, p. 339-340.

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