Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Patrick Nowland
MSA SC 3520-17439


Patrick Nowland enlisted into the First Maryland Regiment on February 1, 1776. At was the time of the Battle of Brooklyn (otherwise known as the Battle of Long Island) on August 27, 1776, Nowland was a private within Captain Patrick Sim’s Second Company. Although the battle was a defeat for the Americans, the valiant defense by Nowland and the other soldiers of the “Maryland 400” held off the British long enough to allow much of the trapped American army to escape. Nowland was one of the lucky soldiers who survived that day, his company losing fewer than ten men. [1]

After the Battle of White Plains, the Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Princeton, Nowland was one of the many who reenlisted. 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 Nowland 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.

In 1778, Nowland became a part of the elite Light Infantry Brigade, consisting of what were considered the best soldiers in the Continental Army. He most likely took part in the midnight attack on Stony Point, New York on July 16, 1779. General Charles Lee stated that this battle was "not only the most brilliant [assault] through the whole course of this war on either side, but that it [was] one of the most brilliant [he was] acquainted with in history." [2]

The importance of a surprise attack was not understated and multiple measures were taken to preserve secrecy. For example, not only were the men were not allowed to load their muskets in fear that they would accidentally be set off, but guards were posted at nearby houses to prevent people from passing and all dogs in the surrounding area were killed to inhibit barking. Although British spies knew an attack was going to happen, they were not aware when it would occur. In a well planned and executed nighttime attack, the Americans killed 63 British and Hessian soldiers, wounded 74, and took 543 prisoners. [3]

Nowland was discharged on December 27, 1779, but reenlisted into Captain Samuel Godman’s company of the Fourth Maryland Regiment a few months later on August 15, 1780. Under the Fourth Maryland Regiment, Nowland was assigned to the Southern Department and saw action at the Battle of Guilford Court House and the Siege of Yorktown. He continued to serve until his death on August 29 or September 1, 1782. The cause of his death is unknown. It is possible that he died in camp from a common illness due to unsanitary conditions. [4]

-Taylor Blades, 2017


[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 8; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War. NARA M881, from

[2] Samuel W. Pennypacker,  “The Capture of Stony Point.” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 26, no. 3 (1902) 369; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 146.

[3] John Dwight Kilbourn, A Short History of the Maryland Line in the Continental Army (Baltimore, MD: The Society of the Cincinnati of Maryland, 1992), 27.

[4] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 147, 461, 549. It should be noted that there are 3 different death dates for Nowland; August 29, 1780, August 29, 1782, and September 1, 1782. As two sources list 1782 and August 29 is close to September 1, it is most likely he died on either August 29 or September 1, 1782.

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