Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Nathan Harrington
MSA SC 3520-18153

Biography:

Nathan Harrington enlisted as a private in Maryland's Fourth Independent Company on January 28, 1776 under Captain James Hindman. Hindman’s company originally played a role in the Maryland Council of Safety's plan to protect the Chesapeake Bay from potential British invasions. At first stationed at Oxford in Talbot County, Hindman's company travelled to New York to reinforce the Continental Army in preparation for a British invasion. The Fourth Independent Company arrived in New York by mid-August 1776. [1]

On the morning of August 27, 1776, American forces faced British troops at the Battle of Brooklyn (otherwise known as the Battle of Long Island). While several companies engaged the British Army on the Gowanus Road and the nearby Gowanus Creek, taking severe losses in the process, the Fourth Independent Company suffered only three casualties. Hindman defended his actions during the battle to the Council of Safety, arguing that rumors referring to the Fourth Independent Company’s “very ill” behavior were unfounded. Hindman instead declared that “the company [he] had the honor to command...behaved themselves as well as in the service, notwithstanding the dark insinuations...thrown out to their prejudice.” [2]

The Fourth Independent Company later fought at the Battle of White Plains in October 1776. Nathan Harrington survived the Battle of White Plains, despite heavy American losses. One Hessian volley alone wounded and killed ninety-two soldiers during the battle, and forty soldiers of the Maryland Line were killed, captured, or wounded in total. After his enlistment ended, Harrington joined the Fifth Maryland Regiment as a private on December 10, 1776. Despite a string of defeats in 1776, American victories at Trenton and Princeton revitalized the morale of the Continental Army. [3]

Although his former first lieutenant, Archibald Anderson, accused Harrington of deserting on June 2, 1777, Harrington continued to serve in the Fifth Regiment. Harrington distinguished himself in the service, earning a promotion to the rank of sergeant on September 1, 1777. Harrington's regiment participated in multiple battles in the war's northern theater between 1777 and 1780, including engagements at Staten IslandBrandywine, and Germantown. Harrington's service during the war ended on February 1, 1780 with his discharge. [4]

Nathan Harrington's post-war life cannot be fully determined. Multiple individuals named Nathan Harrington who lived in Maryland in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries cannot be connected to the Fourth Independent Company.

-James Schmitt, Maryland Society Sons of the American Revolution Research Fellow, 2019

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 24; Mark Andrew Tacyn, “‘To the End:’ The First Maryland Regiment and the American Revolution” (PhD diss., University of Maryland College Park, 1999), pp. 33-34, 44-45.

[2] Tacyn, pp. 52-67; Journal and Correspondence of the Maryland Council of Safety July 7, 1776 to December 31, 1776, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 12, pp. 345-346.

[3] David Hackett Fischer, Washington’s Crossing (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004), p. 111; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 212.

[4] “Forty Dollars Reward,” Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), 18 June 1777; Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 212.

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