Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Thomas Dwyer
MSA SC 3520-17581

Biography:

Thomas Dwyer enlisted as a sergeant in the Sixth Company of the First Maryland Regiment, led by Captain Peter Adams, on January 30, 1776. [1]

The Sixth Company was recruited primarily from the Eastern Shore, but traveled to Annapolis  in the spring of 1776 to complete six months of training.  They then moved north, making it to Philadelphia by mid-July 1776 and to New York by August 14.  They positioned themselves, along with the rest of the First Maryland Regiment, about one mile outside of New York, with orders to prepare for battle.

The Marylanders met the British at the Battle of Brooklyn (sometimes called the Battle of Long Island) on August 27, 1776, where the Continental Army, led by General George Washington, fought to defend New York. The  American troops were severely outnumbered and surrounded when they were ordered to retreat.  Half the regiment was able to escape the battle, however the other half, including most of the Sixth Company, was trapped by the swampy Gowanus Creek.  They turned back to face the British, holding their position long enough for the rest of the Marylanders to return to safety.  This heroic stand earned them the honorable name of the “Maryland 400.” [2]

The First Maryland Regiment suffered major losses. The Sixth Company alone lost 58 men, or 80 percent. By the end of the battle, Maryland losses totaled 256 men killed or captured.  Despite the heroic actions of the Maryland 400, the battle was a defeat for the Americans. [3]

Thomas Dwyer’s fate at the battle is unknown. He may have been killed or captured during the fighting. In addition, one of the Sixth Company's sergeants died around the beginning of April 1776, although his identity is not known. However, Dwyer is one of two men, along with Joseph Elliott, who it might have been. Nothing else is known about his life, however. [4]

-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. 13.

[2] 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," 1 September 1776, American Archives, 5th series, vol. 2, p. 107.

[3] Return of the Maryland troops, 27 September 1776, from Fold3.com.

[4] Archives of Maryland Online, vol 18, p. 105; Account of expenses, William Smallwood, 1776-1778, Maryland Historical Society, Smallwood Papers, MS 1875.

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