Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

James Devereaux
MSA SC 3520-18141

Biography:

James Devereaux enlisted in the Fourth Independent Company in January 1776. [1]

Colonel William Smallwood’s Maryland battalion of nine companies were stationed in Baltimore and Annapolis while the independent companies were divided between the Eastern and Western shores. Devereaux and the Fourth Independent were centered at Oxford in Talbot County under the command of Captain James Hindman. [2]

In July, Maryland was asked to aid the Continental Army in New York in anticipation of a British attack. Smallwood’s battalion and three of the independent companies, including the Fourth, marched to New York to offer support for the Battle of Brooklyn (also known as the Battle of Long Island), the first full-scale engagement of the war. The independent companies arrived in New York near the end of July. [3]

On August 27, 1776, American forces were surrounded by the British troops, and attempted to retreat through the nearby Gowanus Creek under heavy fire, taking severe losses. To hold the British at bay, the remaining Marylanders who hadn’t crossed Gowanus Creek yet mounted a series of charges. The Maryland troops delayed the British long enough for the rest of the Continental Army to escape, and their bravery earned them the title of the “Maryland 400.” Two hundred and fifty-six of Devereaux’s fellow soldiers were killed or captured as a result of their bravery. [4]

Devereaux and the Fourth Independent Company saw little combat at the battle, taking only minimal losses. Hindman defended his company against allegations of non-participation, and blamed their orders for preventing them from taking a more active role: "I have had the vanity to think the company I have had the honor to command have behaved themselves as well as in the service, notwithstanding the dark insinuations that have been thrown out to their prejudice." [5]

Following the battle of Brooklyn, the Fourth Independent fought at the Battle of White Plains, a continuation of the retreat from New York and an American loss.

On December 10, 1776, Devereaux reenlisted as a sergeant for a three-year service term in the Second Maryland Regiment. [6] Devereaux was placed in Captain Samuel Wright’s company [7]

Congress had required Maryland to raise eight new regiments as part of the force of 88 regiments of the Continental establishment. To fill this, soldiers were recruited from the nine companies of Smallwood’s battalion and the independent companies. The Fourth Independent combined with the other independent companies to form the Second Maryland Regiment commanded by Colonel Thomas Price. [8]

During 1777-1778, the British and American troops vied for control over the American capital at Philadelphia. As part of the American campaign, Devereaux fought with the Second Regiment at the battles of Brandywine (September 1777) and Germantown (October 1777), both American losses, and the limited victory at the Battle of Monmouth (June 1778). [9] Devereaux saw little action in 1779, as the American and British forces were locked in a stalemate. Before he next saw combat with his regiment, Devereaux was discharged in January 1780. [10]

Devereaux’s fate after his discharge is not known. There were other James Devereauxs (sometimes spelled Devericks or Devereux) who served in the Revolution. All the James Devereauxs lived in the same time period, making it difficult to tell them apart.

Cassy Sottile, Explore America Research Intern, 2019

Notes:

[1] This is the most common spelling of the James Devereaux who served in the Fourth Independent. Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 24.

[2] Mark Andrew Tacyn, "To the End: The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution," (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), 34.

[3] Tacyn, 43-44.

[4] Return of the Maryland troops, 13 September 1776, Revolutionary War Rolls, NARA M246, folder 35, p. 85, from Fold3.com.

[5] Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety, July 7: December 31, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, p. 346.

[6] Devereaux, along with several of his comrades from the Fourth Independent Company, were enlisted in the Fifth Maryland Regiment under Captain William Frazier, his former lieutenant. This is likely the result of a double enlistment, which were common. Devereaux probably never served in the Fifth Maryland Regiment. “List of Bounty, Subsistence, and Pay due,” May 10, 1777, Maryland State Papers, Red Books, 16:99 [MSA S989-24, 01/06/04/11]; Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 278.

[7] Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, from Fold3.com.

[8] Tacyn, 104.

[9] John Dwight Kilbourne, A Short History of the Maryland Line in the Continental Army, (Baltimore, The Society of the Cincinnati of Maryland, 1992), p. 17-26.

[10] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 101.

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