Few names conjure up as much respect, admiration or praise as that of Frederick Douglass. On the 200th anniversary of his birth, Preservation Maryland is proud to remember the contributions of one the state’s most famous citizens.
Abraham Lincoln made many visits and stops in Maryland over the course of his presidency and broader political career, but perhaps none are as photographically iconic as his trip to the Maryland countryside in October of 1862.
The Origin of the “Old Line State”
07/04/2016 By Nicholas A. Redding
In 1776, American independence was anything but certain. Maryland troops under General Washington fought a pitched battle that may have saved the entire army and earned the state its nickname; The Old Line State.
Maryland Troops Save the Continental Army
On August 27th, 1776, the British Army, under the command of General William Howe launched the first major assault since the Americans had declared their independence on July 4, 1776. The Battle of Brooklyn (or Long Island) pitched 13,000 Continental troops against Howe’s 34,000 British soldiers. Staggeringly outnumbered and surrounded, General Washington ordered a retreat soon after the engagement commenced to avoid a complete disaster. Covering that retreat were Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland infantry (or Line) who were positioned near the Vechte-Cortelyou House.
Battle of Long Island, 1858 Alonzo Chappel
When the Pennsylvania and Delaware lines collapsed and retreated, only the Maryland Line was left to cover the retreat. Maryland Major Mordecai Gist led what has forever been known as the “Maryland 400” (even though they actually numbered just 260-270) in their dogged defense of the American retreat. Facing nearly 2,000 British soldiers, the Maryland Line held long enough to cover the retreat, and allow the Continental Army to live to fight another day.
The Sacrifice of the Maryland 400
In the end, 256 Maryland troops perished in the fight, with less than a dozen making it back to the Continental lines. Watching the Marylander’s action from a nearby position, General Washington watched what he called his “Old Line” and reportedly remarked to General Israel Putnam,
“Good God, what brave fellows I must this day lose.”
It was at the Battle of Brooklyn that Maryland earned its nickname – a name paid for by the blood of its patriots in defense of American independence. Today, the precise location of the burial site of these Maryland patriots remains a mystery and a subject of intense research by historians and archivists who hope to appropriately honor their sacrifice.