The First Company Maryland Rifles

  • Cresap, who was already in poor health marched the company of 130 riflemen from western Maryland to the lines at Roxbury (Cambridge) opposite to Boston Massachusetts and remained there for one year. Once the unit arrived Captain Cresap attempted to return home, but only made it as far as New York.
    When Cresap died, Lt. Moses Rawlings was promoted captain to command the company.
  • June 17, 1776 the company was reorganized into the Maryland & Virginia Rifle Regiment as part of the Continental Army. Rawlings was second in command briefly as Commander Hugh Stephenson soon died in
    August 1776, Rawlings is promoted to command the regiment of nearly 250 men. The unit was then assigned by Gen. george Washington to be part of the Hudson River defenses at Fort Washington.
  • November 16, 1776, the regiment was captured after the defense of Fort Tryon, part of the outer works of Fort Washington. Rawlings was wounded during this action in the leg. He turned over command during the battle to his second, Otho Holland Williams, who was wounded slightly along with approximately 40 others of the regiment. They also had approximately 12 men killed at Fort Tryon. (Note; from Ward: relating to the attack by Rall and Knyphausen on Fort Tryon, actually a small redoubt with the rifles and a battery of 3 guns, he states; "For nearly two hours these courageous assaults {by the German troops} and this stubborn defense continued. But the rifles of the Americans became fouled by the frequent and long continued discharges. Man after man found that he could not drive home a bullet in a clogged barrel of his gun. The fire of the defenders waned and at last was too feeble to hold back the enemy, now nearing the top of the ascent. They had no bayonets to repel a charge with that weapon. A retreat was inevitable. Rawlings drew them back toward the fort {this even with much very close combat}. They gained it ahead of their pursuers. This was the hottest fight of the day and the longest." This was after a cannonade of nearly two hours and many feints against their position.
  • On December 6 (according to Pennsylvania Packet, on December 18, 1776), "Prisoners held in the town of Brunswick in the Jerseys, to be exchanged for the Garrison of Fort Washington." This apparently did not include Rawlings, as he was held for thirteen months, until he escaped! Otho Holland Williams and other Officers were still held sometime after March 1778.
  • In a letter from Congress dated on February 18, 1778, Moses Rawlings is assigned the post of Deputy Quartermaster General of the Western Department and stationed at Fort Frederick, Maryland. He was also to supervise the guarding of "Convention Troops" sent there.
  • March 21, 1779, reorganized as Rawlings' Independent Corps (a.k.a. The Maryland Corps), relieved from the Main Continental Army and assigned to the Western Department.
  • This was not the reward most of them sought (even though they would be close to home) as Rawlings resigned June 1779. It took a bit longer for "The Maryland Corps is at present stationed upon the Frontier of Westmorland, but it appears by recent information, they are determined to march to Maryland to apply for Clothing, of which they are destitute." This was an extract of a letter from the Commander of Fort Pitt, Colonel Daniel Brodhead, dated August 23, 1781.
  • According to Wright, Rawlings' Independent Corps was disbanded on January 1, 1781 at Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania. The letter from Col. Brodhead however contradicts Wright.


One of the first ten units to be authorized by Continental Congress by a resolve dated on June 14, 1775, Organized on June 21, 1775 by Frederick County, Maryland, Committee of Safety. Capt. ?? Cresap's rifle company was the first southern unit to join General Washington around Boston at the beginning of the American War of Independence. Cresap marched his company of riflemen 550 miles in 22 days to join the struggle that would go on for 8 years. The war would take Cresap's life almost immediately (from illness)

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