Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Cephas Hoye
MSA SC 3520-17501

Biography:

Cephas Hoye enlisted as a private in the Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment, led by John Day Scott, on January 24, 1776. [1]

The Seventh Company began their military career by training in Annapolis for six months, although Hoye was detached from the company and was stationed at the magazine, where gunpowder and other military supplies were stored.  The Seventh Company 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.

Hoye reenlisted on December 10, 1776 when the Maryland Line was reorganized, although it appears that he never actually joined his unit. [4]

He returned home and resumed life as a farmer.  On December 27, 1784, Cephas Hoye married Sarah Collings in Prince George’s County, although she passed away soon after.  He married again on September 9, 1786, this time to Elizabeth Ryon, who had three children from a previous marriage.  They lived a comfortable but not particularly wealthy life.  They owned slightly more than 100 acres of land and at least five enslaved people, placing them in the quarter of the population who made a sufficient living. However, in 1791, Hoye sold his land he had inherited from his father Dorsett.  During this time in Prince George's County, approximately 70 percent of the population did not own land. However, many families, such as the Hoyes, still own enslaved people and had considerable wealth. [5]

Hoye passed away shortly after the sale of his land.  He left all of his possessions to his “dearly beloved wife Elizabeth...for her natural life”.  After she passed away in 1795, everything Cephas left to Elizabeth went to “her three children, namely Elijah, Ann and Elizabeth Ryon to be equally divided.”

-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] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 117.

[5] Marriage of Cephas Hoye to Sarah Collings, Prince George’s County Court, Marriage Licenses, 1784, p. 31, MdHR 6191-1 [MSA C1260-1, 01/21/09/005]; Marriage of Cephas Hoye to Elizabeth Ryon Prince George’s County Court, Marriage Licenses, 1784, p. 38, MdHR 6191-1 [MSA C1260-1, 01/21/09/005]; Steven Sarson, “Yeoman Farmers in a Planters’ Republic: Socioeconomic Conditions and Relations in Early National Prince George’s County, Maryland,” Journal of the Early Republic 29:1, (Spr. 2009), 572; Prince George's County Court, Land Records, 1791, JJ 2, p. 490-491, MdHR 50146-2 [MSA C1237-33, 01/20/06/032].

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