Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

William Martindale
MSA SC 3520-18192

Biography:

William Martindale enlisted in the Fourth Independent Company of Maryland troops on January 28, 1776 as a sergeant.[1] The Fourth Independent was placed at Oxford in Talbot County under the command of Captain James Hindman.[2] In his first few months as a sergeant, Martindale managed to impress his commanding officer. James Hindman wrote to Gustavus Scott, Somerset County’s delegate to the Maryland Convention, on June 19, 1776 recommending that Martindale be made an ensign with his own commission.[3] Valuable social connections could also have been a catalyst for this recommendation. Despite Hindman’s recommendation, Martindale remained a sergeant for the rest of 1776.

Within the next month, the Fourth was ordered to march to New York to reinforce the Continental Army against a looming British offensive. Just a few weeks after their arrival, on August 27, 1776, the Americans and British clashed in the first major engagement of the Revolutionary War, the Battle of Brooklyn.

The battle was a disaster for the Continental Army. It was quickly outflanked in the course of the battle and soldiers were forced to retreat by swimming through Gowanus Creek under heavy fire. The Continental Army and George Washington himself faced annihilation as a result. They were saved, however, by the courage of a group of soldiers who came to be known as the Maryland 400. In the midst of the frenzied retreat, the Maryland 400 launched a daring counterattack and held off the British long enough for Washington and his army to escape. Two hundred and fifty-six Maryland soldiers were either killed or captured as a result of their bravery.

Martindale survived the rout at Brooklyn and continued to cover the Continental Army’s retreat at the Battle of White Plains. In the winter of 1776-1777, Martindale would also fight at the battles of Trenton and Princeton

At the beginning of 1777, the issue of expiring enlistments came to call. After fighting in four major battles and suffering the conditions of an ill-supplied army, Martindale decided not to reenlist in the Continental Army. On April 1, 1777, he was granted the commission as an ensign in the Seventh Maryland Regiment that Hindman had lobbied for a year earlier. Martindale declined the commission, however, and never served in the Seventh Regiment.[4] 

On June 27, 1777, Martindale married Esther Baynard in Caroline County.[5] The couple settled in the Bridgetown Hundred of Caroline County, an area known today as Denton.[6] By 1783, Martindale had also inherited seventy-six acres of a tract of land called Branfield in the River District Hundred in Caroline County.[7] 

Martindale died of unknown causes in 1789.[8] His widow, Esther, never remarried and died just two years later in 1791.[9] The two had no children that can be found in records. 

Jillian Curran, Explore America Research Intern, 2019

Notes:

[1] Muster Rolls and Other Records of Service of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 18, p. 23.

[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] “James Hindman to Gustavus Scott," 19 June 1776, Maryland State Papers, MdHR 6636-1-73 [MSA S1004-1-625, 1/7/3/25].

[4] Muster Rolls of William Martindale, National Archives, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers Who Served in the American Army During the Revolutionary War, NARA M881, p. 1-3, from Fold3.com.

[5] Marriage License Local Court, Caroline County.

[6] Caroline County, Land Record A, p. 265 [MSA S1419-9-10907].

[7] General Assembly, House of Delegates, Assessment Record, 1783, Caroline County [MSA S1161-3-5, 1/4/5/46].

[8] Inventory of William Martindale, 1789, Caroline County Register of Wills, Inventories, Box 10, Folder 1 [MSA C516-2, 1/3/1/17].

[9] Inventory of Esther Martindale, 1791, Caroline County Register of Wills, Inventories, Box 11, Folder 27 [MSA C516-3, 1/3/1/18]. 

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