Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Gilbert Garland
MSA SC 3520-17827

Biography:

Gilbert Garland enlisted in the First Maryland Regiment’s First Company and entered the ranks as a private underneath the leadership of Captain John Hoskins Stone on February 7, 1776. [1]

The First Company primarily recruited their soldiers. Although the company originated in Charles County, they relocated to Annapolis to train their troops until the summer of 1776. That July, Maryland’s First Regiment marched north to rendezvous with the Continental Army outside of New York. There, the Maryland Line experienced the bitter taste of war for the first time. [2]  

The Battle of Brooklyn (or the Battle of Long Island) erupted on August 27, 1776, and was the first major battle that followed the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The British troops, totaling nearly 15,000 men, and the British Royal Navy arrived with the intention of ending the war with this single battle. Meanwhile, General George Washington was determined to defend New York. Ultimately, between Washington’s inferior army and the poor intelligence he referenced, the Battle of Brooklyn ended in a Continental retreat and a crippling loss. [3]

The Maryland 400 earned their heroic title during the peak of the conflict at Brooklyn. The First Maryland Regiment split into two separate wings, stretching in a continuous line from the Gowanus Road to the Continental artillery stationed upon a ridge. Under the command of Major Mordecai Gist, the Marylanders fought off the first wave of advancing British troops. The British eventually retreated a few hundred feet, giving the impression that the Continental Army had successfully stopped the invasion. After the first wave of British troops receded, the Marylanders were in a state of disarray as another larger group of British soldiers snuck up on their rear and threatened to surround them. Quickly, the Continental Army’s confidence culminated into fear, their line broke, and the companies retreated. [4]

During the retreat, the Marylanders found themselves unfortunately positioned between enemy fire and the Gowanus Creek. About half of the Marylanders, counting the First Company, attempted to cross the creek and reach their allies. The other half of the Maryland regiment had no other option but to turn back and face the enemy, allowing their fellow countrymen to reach safety. That day, 256 of the First Marylanders who stood on the Gowanus Road were killed or made prisoners. Fortunately, the majority of the men in Stone’s company made it to the Gowanus Creek and successfully swam across. After the retreat, 77 percent of the First Company was accounted for, including Gilbert Garland. [5]

Garland served until the end of his enlistment. Unfortunately, there is no public documentation of Gilbert Garland before or after 1776 and the rest of his life remains a mystery.

-Elizabeth Cassibry, Washington College Explore America Research Intern, 2018

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 6.

[2] Mark Andrew Tacyn, “‘To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 21.

[3] Tacyn, 23-30.

[4] Tacyn, 30-60.

[5] Tacyn, 30-60; Return of the Maryland troops, 27 September 1776, from Fold3.com.

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