Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

James Low
MSA SC 3520-17511

Biography:

James Low enlisted as a private in the Seventh Company of the First Maryland Regiment, led by John Day Scott, on January 20, 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.

James Low was a very common name.  Therefore, after his original enlistment, Low’s record becomes complicated.  At least two men named James Low enlisted in the First Maryland Regiment in 1776.  After their original enlistments ended, both men continued to serve, but it is unfortunately not possible to separate their service records.

One of the men reenlisted as a sergeant on December 10, 1776 when the Maryland Line was reorganized.  He likely fought with the rest of the Maryland Line at the victorious battles of Trenton in 1776 and Princeton in early 1777, and the bloody battles of Staten Island and Brandywine in the fall of 1777.  He was then demoted and discharged on October 3, 1777. [4]

The other man enlisted (likely for the second time, although this is not definite) as a private on August 10, 1777.  He would have fought at the same battles as the previous James Low, plus the Battle of Germantown.  He then deserted in March 1780. [5]

After the war, there were many men named James Low living in Maryland, and it is also not possible to determine which, if any of these men, was from the Seventh Company.

-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]; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 16.

[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. 132.

[5] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 132; Tacyn, 301.  

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