Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Samuel Hanson
MSA SC 3520-17902


Samuel Hanson enlisted as a corporal in the First Company of the First Maryland Regiment in January 1776. Led by Captain John Hoskins Stone, the company was raised in Charles County. It was part of Maryland's first contingent of full-time, professional troops. Its men distinguished themselves that summer, gaining fame as the "Maryland 400." As a corporal, Hanson was responsible for keeping the soldiers of the company properly aligned during marches and in battle, and ensuring order among the men in camp, as well as other administrative duties. [1]

In July, the regiment received orders to march to New York, in order to defend the city from an impending British attack. The Marylanders arrived in New York in early August, where they joined with the rest of the Continental Army, commanded by General George Washington. On August 27, 1776, the Americans faced the British Army at the Battle of Brooklyn (sometimes called the Battle of Long Island), the first full-scale engagement of the war. The battle was a rout: the British were able to sneak around the American lines, and the outflanked Americans fled in disarray.

During the retreat, the Maryland troops fought their way towards the American fortifications, but were blocked by the swampy Gowanus Creek. Half the regiment, including the First Company, was able to cross the creek, and escape the battle. However, the rest were unable to do so before they were attacked by the British. Facing down a much larger, better-trained force, this group of soldiers, today called the "Maryland 400," mounted a series of daring charges, which held the British at bay for some time, at the cost of many lives, before being overrun. They took enormous causalities, with some companies losing losing nearly 80 percent of their men, but their actions delayed the British long enough for the rest of the Continental Army to escape. In all, the First Maryland lost 256 men, killed or taken prisoner. [2]

Hanson survived the battle, as did most of the men in his company. During the fall of 1776, the Marylanders fought a series of battles in New York: Harlem Heights (September), White Plains (October), and Fort Washington (November). While the Americans had some tactical successes at these engagements, by November they had been pushed out of New York entirely, though they secured key revitalizing victories at Trenton and Princeton late that winter.

Hanson served through all of these engagements, until his enlistment expired at the end of the year. After that time, however, it is not possible to say precisely what happened to him, although it is clear that he served in the army again, attaining the rank of lieutenant. There were two Lieutenant Samuel Hansons, both from Charles County, Maryland. Based on their service histories, either one of them could have started their military careers as a corporal in the First Company in 1776.

If he was Samuel Hanson,the son of Walter and Elizabeth (Hoskins) Hanson, he left the army at the end of his enlistment in 1776. After several years as a civilian, Samuel Hanson of Walter was commissioned as an ensign in late July 1780 in the Regiment Extraordinary, then promoted to lieutenant a few days later. The Regiment Extraordinary was raised by Maryland in the summer of 1780 to help alleviate the Continental Army's severe manpower shortage. Desperate for any available men, the state filled with the regiment with "Deserters...Men left at the Hospitals [and] a few Recruited for the old Regiments." Hanson would have been among the latter group; quite a number of veterans of 1776 from the First Maryland Regiment were commissioned at the same time. The Regiment Extraordinary was slow to form, and by October it was still short of men and supplies. The troops eventually marched to join the main body of the army in December 1780. Arriving in North Carolina, the Regiment Extraordinary faced organizational challenges and was disbanded in March 1781. Some of the men were incorporated into the Second Maryland Regiment. Many of the officers resigned from the army, however, since they were not permitted to join the Second Maryland and retain their ranks. Hanson served in the Regiment Extraordinary as late as March 31, 1781, and was likely among the officers who left the army after that time. Samuel Hanson of Walter died in 1810; it is likely that he never married or had children. [3]

The other possibility is that Samuel Hanson reenlisted in the newly-created Third Maryland Regiment in May 1777, securing a promotion to sergeant. Experienced men, particularly non-commissioned officers like Hanson had been, were sought after as Maryland expanded from one regiment to seven. Sergeant Hanson was promoted ensign in the First Maryland Regiment in July 1777, then rose to lieutenant in August 1779. Transferred to the Fifth Maryland Regiment during a reorganization in 1781, he remained in the service until 1783, when the army was disbanded. Beginning in 1778, Hanson was the quartermaster, responsible for securing supplies for the regiment. It is likely that this Samuel Hanson was the son of William Hanson (1717-1766) and Mary Stone. He had two older brothers and two older sisters. He was married to Margarey McConchie, and they had four children. Samuel Hanson of William died in 1806. [4]

There is no way to know for certain which of these lieutenants survived the Battle of Brooklyn as a corporal in the First Company. It is perhaps slightly more likely the Corporal Hanson later served in the Regiment Extraordinary, since most of its officers had been in the army together in 1776. As it is, however, there were at least six adult Samuel Hansons living in Charles County during the Revolutionary War, many of whom were related to each other, and it is very difficult to differentiate between them. [5]

Owen Lourie, 2018


[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 5; Frederick Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, Part I. (Philadelphia: Styner and Cist, 1792), 137-140.

[2] Return of the Maryland troops, 13 September 1776, Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, folder 35, p. 85, from; Mark Andrew Tacyn, "'To the End:' The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution" (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 48-73. For more on the experience of the Marylanders at the Battle of Brooklyn, see "In Their Own Words," on the Maryland State Archives research blog, Finding the Maryland 400.

[3] Uriah Forrest to George Washington, 17 August 1780, Founders Online, National Archives; Mordecai Gist to George Washington, 26 October 1780, Founders Online, National Archives; Order to pay Lt. Samuel Hanson, 17 October 1780, Maryland State Papers, Series A, box 22, no. 22/24, MdHR 6636-22-22/29 [MSA S1004-29-2716, 1/7/3/38]; Order to pay Lt. Samuel Hanson, 31 March 1781, Maryland State Papers, Series A, box 32, no. 67/7, MdHR 6636-32-67/7 [MSA S1004-41-855, 1/7/3/45]; Journal and Correspondence of the State Council, 1779-1780, Archives of Maryland, vol. 48, pps. 234, 272, 329; Harry Wright Newman, Charles County Gentry (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1971), 237, 254. Newman is incorrect in saying that the Samuel Hanson of Walter was a private in the Charles County militia.

[4] Reiman Steuart, The Maryland Line (The Society of the Cincinnati, 1971), 92; "General Orders, 1 January 1779," Founders Online, National Archives; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, pps. 117, 280, 364, 476, 481, 520; Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, from; Receipt for pay, 19 June 1783, Maryland State Papers, Revolutionary Papers, box 4, no. 29, MdHR 19970-4-2/9 [MSA S997-4-22, 1/7/3/10]; Newman, 233-234, 247-248.

[5] Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., eds., A Biographical Dictionary of the Maryland Legislature, 1635-1789. Vol. 1 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979), 408.

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