Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Hugh Wallace
MSA SC 3520-17704

Biography:

Hugh Wallace enlisted as a private 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 where they trained for a few months. 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 84 percent, or 58 men. By the end of the battle, Maryland losses totalled 256 men killed or captured.  Despite the heroic actions of the Maryland 400, the battle was a defeat for the Americans. Unlike many of his companions, Wallace survived the battle and was not captured. He was one of just sixteen officers and men from the Sixth Company to come out of the battle unscathed. [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. [3]

Hugh Wallace survived these battles and reenlisted as a private in the First Maryland Regiment on December 10, 1776 when the Maryland Line was reorganized. However, just two days later, Wallace enlisted in the Second Canadian Regiment under Colonel Moses Hazen, which was fighting as part of the Continental Army, and badly in need of men. Enlisting in two different companies was not rare, and men would do it to collect extra money. It appears that Wallace continued on with the Second Canadian Regiment until April 28, 1777, when his double enlistment was exposed and he was retained. [4]

About a month later, on May 23, Wallace was tried for this crime and ordered to pay back the enlistment money to Colonel Hazen’s regiment.  However, General George Washington thought the punishment was not harsh enough, and “supposed the court must have had some mitigating evidence...in favor of the prisoner…[causing] them to pass so favourable a sentence.”  Washington decided that Wallace would remain in custody while the “judge advocate...take[s] down in writing the whole evidences and furnish[es] him [the General] with a copy.” On May 25,

the sentence against Hugh Wallace being explained to the Generals satisfaction, the General approve[d] the sentence and order[ed] that as soon as he refunds the money received of Colonel Hazen's office, or of the office with whom he stands enlisted in the Maryland regiment...he will be released from his confinement and return[ed] to his duty in the Maryland regiment. [5]

Presumably, Wallace complied and returned to the Maryland line to serve out his three-year enlistment.  However, there is no record of him past May 25, 1777, and unfortunately nothing else is known of his life.

-Natalie Miller, Maryland Society Sons of the American Revolution Research Fellow, 2018

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 14.

[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: Account of the battle on Long-Island, 1 September  1776, American Archives Online, series 5, vol. 2, p. 107.

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

[4] Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 173; “List of Officers and Men of Colonel Moses Hazen's 2nd Canadian Regiment,” vol. 18, p. 115, NARA, War Department Collection of Revolutionary War Records.

[5] Robert Kirkwood, The Journal and Order Book of Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Delaware Regiment of the Continental Line, ed. Joseph Brown Turner (Wilmington: The Historical Society of Delaware, 1910), p. 64-68.

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