Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Josiah Hatton
MSA SC 3520-17867

Biography:

Josias (or Josiah) Hatton enlisted as a private in the Third Company of the First Maryland Regiment, led by Captain Barton Lucas, on January 30, 1776. At only eighteen years old, he was a few years younger than the average Maryland soldier. [1]

The Third Company, including Hatton, was recruited primarily from Prince George’s County, Maryland, but traveled to Annapolis in the spring of 1776 to train for several months. That July, the company received orders to march north, making it to Philadelphia by mid-July and to New York a month later.  It was positioned 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 Third 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 daring stand earned them the honorable name of the “Maryland 400.” [2]

Despite the heroic actions of the Maryland 400, the battle was a defeat for the Americans, and the First Maryland Regiment suffered greatly. By the end of the battle, Maryland losses totalled 256 men killed or captured.  As for the Third Company, only 27 men, just 35 percent of the company, escaped death or captivity. Of the remaining 65 percent, an astonishing 22 men, or 29 percent, were taken prisoner. Sadly, the rest of the company remains unaccounted for.  On the day of the battle, Captain Lucas was sick and unable to lead his men. He "became deranged as a consequence of losing his company," and left the army not long after. [3]

Unlike many of his companions, Hatton survived the battle and was not captured.  He likely continued to fight, helping the Maryland Regiment 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. [4]

Josiah Hatton likely returned home to Prince George’s County, Maryland, in December 1776, when his enlistment ended. He resided in the Piscataway area, in the southwestern part of the county, where he lived with his parents Joseph and Mary. Joseph worked as a farmer, and Josiah likely did the same, perhaps helping his father on their land. [5]

When Joseph died in August 1792, his land was divided and given to his five sons: Josiah, whose land included the portion where he previously lived with his parents, Joseph, Henry, Basil, and George. Josiah married Mary Mitchell on February 22, 1793, but died just five years later, at the relatively young age of forty-one. At the time of his death, he owned eleven enslaved people, four of whom he inherited from his uncle, and a large amount of farming equipment. His estate was valued at 918 pounds, which was a notable amount for the time.  Unfortunately, he did not leave a will, and no further information is known about his wife or their family. [6]

-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. 10; St. John's Church, King George Parish, Broad Creek, Parish Register 1689-1801, 301 [MSA SC2227-1-2, SCM 229].

[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, 107.

[3] Return of the Maryland troops, 27 September 1776, from Fold3.com; Pension of John Hughes. National Archives, Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land-Warrant Application Files, S 5954, from fold3.com.

[4] Henry P. Johnston, The Campaign of 1776 Around New York and Brooklyn (1878; Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1971), 256.

[5] Inventory of Josias Hatton, Prince George’s County, Register of Wills, Inventories, 1799, Liber ST 3, 248 [MSA C1228-14, 01/25/09/005]; Will of Joseph Hatton, Prince George’s County, Register of Wills, Wills, 1798, Liber T 1, 315 [MSA C1326-3, 01/25/07/004].

[6] Will of Joseph Hatton.

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