Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

James Watts
MSA SC 3520-18203

Biography:

James Watts enlisted as a private in Maryland's Fourth Independent Company on January 20, 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]

Archibald Anderson, James Watts's former first lieutenant, accused Watts of deserting on June 2, 1777, although Watts may have never actually reenlisted. Further military records connected to the Watts of the Fourth Independent do not exist. [3]

Although his exact whereabouts following the war are not fully known, James Watts may have lived in Dorchester County, Maryland. [4]

-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] “Forty Dollars Reward,” Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia), 18 June 1777.

[4] U.S. Federal Census, 1830, Dorchester County, Maryland; U.S. Federal Pension Roll of 1835, p. 514; General Assembly, Session Laws, December 31, 1832 to March 23, 1833, Archives of Maryland Online, vol. 547, p. 391.

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