Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Ignatius Boon
MSA SC 3520-17475

Biography:

Ignatius Boon enlisted as a private in the Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment, led by John Day Scott, on January 27, 1776. [1]

The Seventh Company began their military career by training in Annapolis for six months.  They then moved north, making it to Philadelphia by mid-July 1776 and to New York by August 14.  They positioned themselves about one mile outside of New York with orders to prepare for battle.  According to William Sands, a sergeant in the Seventh Company, they “had lost a great many...troops [who] deserted from...Philadelphia and Elizabethtown, and a great many [were] sick in the hospital,” so the regiment was weakened before entering combat. [2]

The Seventh Company first met the British at the Battle of Brooklyn (Battle of Long Island) on August 27, 1776, where the Continental Army, led by General George Washington, fought to defend New York.  American troops were severely outnumbered and surrounded when they were ordered to retreat.  While the Seventh Company was withdrawing, they were again ambushed by British troops.  About half of the First Maryland Regiment stayed behind to fight off the British long enough for the rest of the Americans to safely escape.  Casualties were extreme, but so was the heroism that earned them the honorable name of the “Maryland 400.”  Fortunately, the Seventh Company escaped without immense casualties, losing fewer than ten out of approximately 75 troops.  Maryland losses totalled 256 men killed or captured, but without the Maryland 400, even more would have been lost.  Despite their courageous actions, the battle was a defeat for the Americans. [3]

The Maryland Regiment helped secure America’s first victory at the Battle of Harlem Heights in September 1776 where they were praised for their “gallant behavior” and “splendid spirit and animation.”  They fought again at the Battle of White Plains in October where, despite the Maryland troops’ immense improvement, there was no clear victory.  Unfortunately, the First Maryland Regiment suffered greatly, including the loss of John Day Scott, the captain of the Seventh Company, and Second Lieutenant Thomas Goldsmith who was fatally shot while attempting to save a soldier's life.

Boon survived these battles and reenlisted on December 10, 1776 when the First Maryland Regiment was reorganized.  In 1777 the First Maryland Regiment fought at the Battle of Staten Island, and the bloody Battles of Brandywine and Germantown which were part of the Philadelphia campaign. All were British victories, however the Battle of Germantown was reported by John Adams to be considered the “most decisive proof that America would finally succeed.” Boon was promoted on December 1, 1777 to sergeant. [4]

The First Maryland Regiment went on to fight in the Battle of Monmouth in 1778, where Boon was likely a participant.  In December 1779, Boon and the 68 other Marylanders who had enlisted in the First Maryland Regiment on December 10, 1776 were discharged.  Out of the original 170 enlistees, only 40 percent of the men reached the end of their three-year enlistment.  The discharge of these men was a momentous event for the Maryland Line, with the original war veterans handing their company over to the newer recruits, entrusting them with the success of the remainder of the war. [4]

However, Boon’s military service was not over.  He was commissioned as an officer in the Regiment Extraordinary, some time before July 1780.  This regiment was created to reinforce the Continental Army, which was suffering because of extreme losses from battle, capture, sickness, and desertion. The army was so desperate to find men to fight that they recruited "Deserters...Men left at the Hospitals [and] a few...[from] the old Regiments." Boon was among the latter group, and as an experienced soldier he was made first an ensign, and later a lieutenant.  The regiment also included several other members of the Maryland 400. [5]

They joined the Southern Campaign towards the end of December 1780, but the Regiment Extraordinary did not last long; it disbanded in March 1781 due to organizational challenges.  Many of the soldiers joined the Second Maryland Regiment, however most of the officers resigned because they would not be able to retain their rank upon joining another regiment.  Because there is no military record of Ignatius Boon past the end of 1780, it is likely he resigned and returned to Maryland.  [6]

Boon’s personal life is more difficult to decipher than his military career.  There were at least two men named Ignatius Boon in Prince George’s County during this time period, one referred to as Ignatius Boon, of Henry, and the other as Ignatius Boon, of Nicholas.  It was common for people with the same name to be differentiated from one another by referring to them with their father’s name.  However, there are also records that involve an Ignatius Boon that are not clarified with a father’s name.

It is possible that he married Martha Boon in 1790, Eleanor Sansberry in 1796, and Anne Teresa Elder in 1805, all in Prince George’s County.  Sadly, it was rather common for people to die at a young age due to illness and harsher living conditions, so it was not uncommon for someone to have multiple spouses throughout their lifetime. It is unclear if these marriages all belonged to one man, and if so, if that was the Ignatius Boon who was in the Continental Army.  The Ignatius Boon whose last marriage was to Anne Teresa Elder passed away in late 1815, his possessions totalling $1,151.50, which was a large amount of money in the 1800s.  [7]

-Natalie Miller, Maryland Society Sons of the American Revolution Research Fellow, 2017

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 16.

[2] William Sands to John and Ann Sands, 14 August 1776, Maryland State Archives, Special Collections, Dowsett Collection of Sands Family Papers [MSA SC 2095-1-18, 00/20/05/28].

[3] Mark Andrew Tacyn, "To the End: The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution," (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 48-73; Extract of a letter from New-York: Account of the battle on Long-Island, 1 September  1776, American Archives Online, series 5, vol. 2, p. 107.

[4] Tacyn, 210, 284.

[5] Journal and Correspondence of the Council of Maryland, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 43, p. 234, p. 258, p. 273.

[6] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 43 p. 346.

[7] Marriage of Ignatius Boon to Martha Boone, 21 April 1790, Marriage of Ignatius Boon to Eleanor Sansberry, 14 January 1796, Prince George’s County Court, Marriage Licenses, p. 53, p. 77 [MSA C1260-1, 01/21/09/005]; Effie Gwynn Bowie, Across the Years in Prince George’s County, (Richmond, Virginia: Garrett and Massie Incorporated, 1947), 345;  Inventory of Ignatius Boon, Prince George’s County Register of Wills, Administration Accounts, Liber TT, book 2, p. 74, p. 226 [MSA C1144-9, 01/25/10/020].

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