Researching the American Revolution

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William Smallwood

William Smallwood by Charles Willson Peale (1781-2) in the Independence Hall Museum, Philadelphia, PA


General William Smallwood was an influential figure in the American Revolutionary War and made significant contributions to the cause of American independence. Born in Maryland in 1732, Smallwood began his military career by serving in the French and Indian War, gaining valuable experience in combat and leadership. During the Revolutionary War, Smallwood played a crucial role in the Continental Army, rising through the ranks and eventually becoming a brigadier general.

Smallwood’s most notable contribution came during the Battle of Brooklyn in 1776, where he commanded the Maryland Line. Despite being heavily outnumbered and facing overwhelming odds, Smallwood’s disciplined and skilled leadership enabled his troops to launch a successful rear-guard action, allowing the Continental Army to escape and avoid a catastrophic defeat. This action earned him praise and recognition for his tactical prowess and bravery. Smallwood continued to serve throughout the war, participating in key battles such as Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth.In addition to his military career, Smallwood also had a notable political impact. He served as a member of the Continental Congress and later became the governor of Maryland. As governor, he implemented reforms and policies that helped stabilize the state and support the war effort. After the war, Smallwood retired to his estate, where he lived until his death in 1792. n important figure in the history of the Revolutionary War.

Memoirs and Papers

William Smallwood Collection, 1776-1791, Manuscripts Department, Maryland Historical Society Library.

William Smallwood, Governor of Maryland, 1785-1788. Archives of Maryland, MSA SC 3520-1134.


Kimmel, Ross M. In Perspective:  William Smallwood. The Smallwood Foundation, 2000.

Sons of the American Revolution, Maryland Society. The Ceremonies at the Unveiling of the Monument over the Remains of Major General William Smallwood. Baltimore: Friedenwald Co., 1898.

Maj. Gen. William Smallwood’s Most Famous Quote

Smallwood’s quote after the disastrous Battle of Brooklyn as presented in the Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia, PA
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