Joshua Owings Jr., the son of Joshua senior and Mary Cockey, was born in 1740 and married Elizabeth Howe. Her father, Edward Howe, is also a Revolutionary Patriot and one of our NSSAR supplemental applications. Joshua the junior was commissioned a 1st Lieutenant in Captain Stinchcomb’s Company, Soldiers Delight Batallion, Baltimore, Maryland on August 29, 1777 by Governor Eden of Maryland. It is interesting to note that Joshua’s uncle, John Owings was married to Helen Stinchcomb and his uncle Henry, to Hannah Stinchcomb. Helen and Hannah’s brother John Stinchcomb would eventually be the Commander of the Stinchcomb Company of the Soldiers’ Delight Hundred Battalion where Joshua served. Joshua’s brothers: John Cockey, Edward, George, and Ephraim were also listed as serving as regulars or militia. Joshua saw action at Brandywine, Germantown, Camden and Yorktown in a Regiment that gained its initial fame in the battle of Long Island.
Joshua Owings senior had a sister Susannah who married Colonel Thomas Gist. Colonel Thomas Gist took the young gentlemen from the Baltimore area and turned the Soldiers Delight Hundred recruits into hardened soldiers who filled the ranks of his son, General Mordecai Gist on the front lines of the famous Maryland First. All of the Gist males served as officers in the Maryland Line, but son Mordecai rose to the rank of General and is considered one of the ablest officers of the Revolution.
Mordecai Gist was one of the first to sniff the coming of the storm and in December 1774 formed the first of three Companies known as the Baltimore County Cadets to represent and defend Maryland. Initially, William Smallwood was selected as Colonel and Commander, Francis Ware, Lieutenant Colonel and Mordecai Gist, First Major. In December 1774, Maryland also received the first funding for the war effort in Baltimore County. On January 16, 1775, the men of Baltimore County sent representatives to the Annapolis meeting on April 24 and attended the Maryland Convention on April 29, 1775 to consider the responsibilities and outcomes of the coming war with the British.
The new unit selected crimson for the uniform turned up with buff and trimmed with yellow metal or gold buttons. White stockings were to be worn with black cloth half boots. Each man was to supply his own uniform, good gun, cartouch pouch, pair of pistols, belt, cutlass, four pounds of powder, and 16 pounds of lead and be ready at the shortest notice. The following statement was also issued by the newly formed military company: We the Baltimore Independent Cadets, being impressed with the unhappy situation of our suffering brethren in Boston, through the alarming conduct of General Gage, and the oppressive unconstitutional acts of the Parliament to deprive us of liberty and enforce slavery upon his majesty’s loyal liege subjects of America in general. For the better security of our own lives, liberties, and properties we form ourselves into a military unit for service as we may be directed.
Joshua joined the Baltimore County Commission of Observation in 1775 to maintain order and prevent social unrest during the blockade of British goods. They patrolled the streets to prevent looting, arson, theft and robberies. There was severe inflation in the colonies and a percent of the sale price of stable goods was sent to help out the poor of Boston who were suffering under the British Intolerable Acts. On July 29, 1776 the Declaration of Independence arrived in Baltimore for the official reading. Many of the young men from the Baltimore population of 12,000 were duly inspired with the just cause and signed on with the regulars or the militias. Congress assembled in Baltimore in December, 1776 since the British had the capital of Philadelphia in their hands. By 1778 the local colonists of Baltimore had gathered for a declaration of allegiance to the United States of America. New factories were being built to provide goods unattainable from abroad.
I have listed several of the major battles of the Revolutionary War below where the Companies and Batallions of the Maryland Line gained prominence and in which our Patriot Ancestor saw action.
Battle of Long Island – (August 27, 1776 also known as the Battle of Brooklyn Heights) – This was the first time an American army engaged the British army and also has the distinction of being the largest engagement of the Revolutionary War. The British under Cornwallis had 32,000 men on the field and also controlled the waters while the Americans fielded about 16,000. The British were also joined by their experienced Hessian allies under von Heister who bore the brunt of the advance and flanking movement by the British. The Americans found themselves outmaneuvered and planned a retreat through New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The Maryland First consisting of 250 men was ordered to stay on the field and hold off the advance so the mass of men could make their retreat. The brave Marylanders made six advances before they created havoc in the British ranks. The last and final charge resulted in an unbelievable slaughter and loss of life. Men were swinging their rifles like clubs and the battle was one of cold steel, bayonet versus bayonet. There were few survivors as the Hessians even bayoneted those who had surrendered. Needless to say the Marylanders gave crucial time for the successful retreat, but had been annihilated for the cause. Washington wrote that Mordecai Gist and his Marylanders displayed almost invincible resolution. General Washington, watching from his position at Brooklyn Heights, was so impressed with the Maryland First that he named them the “Bayonets of the Revolution” and further commented, “Good God, what brave men I must lose today.” Colonel Thomas Gist would have to recruit and train more Maryland men to fill the void of this disaster for his son Mordecai who survived.
Battle of Brandywine (Sept. 11, 1777) – The battle was again won by the British under the command of Generals William Howe, Lord Cornwallis and the Hessians under von Heister. The British had 17,000 men and 260 navy vessels. The Americans had 20,000 men and in this battle the Pennsylvania troops bore the brunt with the Maryland First and Second in the thick of the battle. The win for the British basically left the Capital city of Philadelphia undefended. The Americans had most of their horses killed and had to leave 80% of their canon on the field. This was the first battle listed for our relative, Joshua Owings.
Germantown (October 1777) – The British victory secured Philadelphia for the winter of 1777-1778. The battle had a significant outcome in Europe as the French saw the strength and resolve of the Americans increase. This on the heels of the victory at Saratoga in 1777 would cause the French to reconsider their entry into the war. The Hessians saw the American potential and knew they would be formidable when they became seasoned and properly disciplined. General Stephens was court martialed for being intoxicated at his command and replaced by Marquis de Lafayette.
Battle of Camden (August 16, 1780) – The British captured Charleston under Cornwallis, but the Americans still thought the best action was to focus on a southern campaign. The British were hoping the Loyalists would support their efforts and to the Americans, under Horatio Gates, a victory in the south was crucial. Mordecai Gist with Johann DeKalb commanded the right flank with the Second Maryland and First Delaware; General Caswell commanded the center with the North Carolina Militia; General William Smallwood Commanded the left flank with the Virginia Militia and Horatio Gates was the overall Commander with the First Marylanders in reserve. This was a tactical miscalculation by Gates and a defeat for the Americans. Banastrte Tarleton and his Legion chased the Americans for 20 miles before calling off the chase. General Horatio Gates fled the field and was court martialed for cowardice being replaced by Nathaniel Greene.
City of Baltimore – In September of 1781, the merchants and citizens, especially the women, of Baltimore gave Lafayette’s troops 2000 pounds worth of clothing since they were in rags on their way to Yorktown.
Siege of Yorktown (Sept. 28-Oct. 19 1781) – Generals Washington, Lafayette, and Comte de Rochambeau combined with Admiral de Grasse to defeat Cornwallis and the British.
July 27, 1783 General Mordecai Gist and Joshua Owings arrive back in Baltimore with remnants of the Maryland Line.
The records of other Patriots seeking their pensions in the 1830s often cite Joshua Owings as a personal reference stating: he was a gentleman of great respectability of character; of strict honor and integrity; and on whose word the most implicit reliance can safely be made. Very little is known of Joshua Jr.’s military service and I have given the few details I possess. Joshua came to Kentucky to make money on land speculation. He was believed to be the first of his family to settle beyond the mountains and is on the tax list of Montgomery County, Kentucky in the 1790s. John Cockey Owings was a Captain in the Revolution and later came to Kentucky to make their money on land speculation. John Cockey Owings can be seen on the roster of the inhabitants of Boonesborough in the 1780s, which would indicate he arrived earlier. The Owings family settled in Montgomery County and Owingsville takes it’s name from John Cockey Owings who founded a foundry there and became very wealthy. Joshua Owings is buried near Owingsville.