MSA SC 3520-17496
James Perry enlisted as a private in the First Maryland Regiment's Second Company, commanded by Captain Patrick Sim, in January 1776. After enlisting, Perry and his company traveled to Annapolis, joining five other companies of the regiment that were stationed there; three additional companies were in Baltimore. Commanded by Colonel William Smallwood, the regiment was the first unit of full-time, professional soldiers raised in Maryland for service in the Continental Army. 
In July, the regiment received orders to march to New York, in order to defend the city from an impending British attack. The Marylanders arrived in New York in early August, where they joined with the rest of the Continental Army, commanded by General George Washington. On August 27, 1776, the Americans faced the British Army at the Battle of Brooklyn (sometimes called the Battle of Long Island), the first full-scale engagement of the war. 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, including the Second Company, was able to cross the creek and escape the battle. However, the rest were unable to do so before they were attacked by the British. Facing down a much larger, better-trained force, this group of soldiers, today called 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. They took enormous casualties, with some companies losing nearly 80 percent of their men, but their actions delayed the British long enough for the rest of the Continental Army to escape. In all, the First Maryland lost 256 men, killed or taken prisoner. 
Perry survived the battle, and continued to serve with the Marylanders through the rest of the difficult fall and winter of 1776. While the Maryland troops demonstrated their skill and bravery, the Americans were nevertheless pushed out of New York, and put on the run through New Jersey. Not until late that winter did they secure revitalizing victories at Trenton and Princeton. By the time of those battles, however, Perry was no longer present. He had been transferred to the Philadelphia, suffering from an unknown illness or injury. When he was released from the hospital is not known, although by mid-December, he had begun to recover. When his enlistment expired at the end of 1776, he left the army. 
Perry was likely from Montgomery County, Maryland, which was one of the places that the Second Company was recruited from. He probably returned there after leaving the army--he may even have served in the county militia in the summer of 1777--but it is difficult to learn more about his life. There were multiple people in the county named James Perry, and it cannot be determined which, if any, was the man who survived the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776. 
Owen Lourie, 2017
1. Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution. Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 8.
2. Return of the Maryland troops, 27 September 1776, from Fold3.com; Mark Andrew Tacyn "'To the End:' The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution" (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 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.
3. "List of Sick Soldiers in Philadelphia, December 1776." Pennsylvania Archives, second series, vol. 1, 532.
4. S. Eugene Clements and F. Edward Wright, The Maryland Militia in the Revolutionary War (Silver Spring, Maryland: Family Line Publications, 1987), 196.
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