Wathens in the Revolutionary War

Wathens in the Revolutionary War

Just yesterday, I received the Fall 2022 edition of Chronicles of St. Mary's - St. Mary's County Historical Society's journal - which highlights the efforts of Captain Uriah Forrest's Flying Camp, a troop of Revolutionary War soldiers from St. Mary's County. This ragtag band of volunteers marched over three hundred miles (!) over the course of 29 days from Leonardtown to Manhattan Island in September 1776 to assist in the fight against the British. If you look at the names of the enlisted at the end of the article, you'll see two Wathens among the ranks of Captain Uriah Forrest's Flying Camp: Ignatius Wathen & John C. Wathen.

As I've researched for The Wathens of Southern Maryland: Their Genealogy & History, I've been surprised at how many local Wathens supported America's fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War. The book Papist Patriots: The Making of an American Catholic Identity points to the Wathens as an example of a Maryland Catholic family that saw independence from England as the best way to break free from the “legislated anti-Catholicism” that had been affecting the Maryland colony since the 1690s. It seems that nearly every male Wathen who was eligible either enlisted to fight in the war or donated supplies to soldiers.

Other Wathens from St. Mary's County who served during the Revolutionary War include Edward Wathen, James Wathen, James Warren Wathen, John Wathen, Joseph Wathen, Leonard Wathen, and Richard Wathen. In Charles County, the number of Wathens who served was even greater: Charles County soldiers included Baker Wathen, Barton Wathen, Bennett Wathen, two Francis Wathens, Ignatius Wathen, John Baker Wathen, two John Baptist Wathens, Martin Wathen, Nicholas Wathen, and William Wathen. Bennett Wathen, by the way, is the confirmed ancestor of two of the local branches of Wathens - the branches of Benedict Aloysius Wathen and George W. Wathen - which means that everyone in both of those branches is theoretically eligible for membership in either the Daughters or Sons of the American Revolution.

In all, there were nearly two dozen Wathens who served in the military during the Revolutionary War, and there were others who supported the fight through the donation of supplies. There are plenty of Wathens who would serve in the military in later generations, but no later armed conflict would draw forth from the Wathen family the staggering level of commitment that was seen during the days of the American Revolution.

If you'd like to hear more details about the Wathens who served in the Revolutionary War and beyond, I encourage you to pre-order The Wathens of Southern Maryland: Their Genealogy & HistoryIn celebration of Family History Month, I'm offering 10% off of preorders for The Wathens of Southern Maryland: Their Genealogy & History and Memorial Page listings in the book through October 31. Simply use the code FAMILYHISTORY at checkout.

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