Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Samuel Kurk
MSA SC 3520-17856

Biography:

Samuel Kurk enlisted as a private in the Maryland First Regiment’s First Company, underneath the leadership of Captain John Hoskins Stone, on January 24, 1776. [1]

The First Company was primarily recruited from Charles County, Maryland, but trained in Annapolis until the summer of 1776. That July, Maryland’s First Regiment marched north to rendezvous with General George Washington outside of New York. There, the majority of the Maryland Line experienced the bitter taste of war for the first time. [2]  

The Battle of Brooklyn (or 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 battle. Meanwhile, General Washington was determined to defend New York. Ultimately, between General Washington’s smaller army and the poor intelligence he referenced when preparing for the British invasion, 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 in Brooklyn. The First Maryland Regiment split into two separate wings, stretching in a continuous line from Gowanus Road to the Continental artillery stationed upon a ridge. Under the command of Major Mordecai Gist, the men 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 British attack. Shortly after the first wave of British troops receded, the Marylanders were shocked as another larger group of British soldiers snuck up on their rear and threatened to surround them. Quickly, the Continental Army’s confidence turned into fear, their line broke, and the companies retreated. [4]

During the retreat, the Marylanders found themselves unfortunately positioned in between enemy fire and the Gowanus Creek. About half of the Marylanders attempted to cross the creek and reach their allies. The other half of Maryland’s First 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 Marylanders were killed or made prisoners. The First Company, however, fared better, as it lost just a few men. [5]

Kurk's fate at the battle is not known, and nothing else is known about his life.

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

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