Stories of People

Fort Frederick, the Maryland Rifle Regiment, and Joseph Neale

Fort Frederick, the Maryland Rifle Regiment, and Joseph Neale: A Personal Reflection

 By Joe Wagner

There are three stories to be told here I suppose.  It started out to be a history of Fort Frederick Maryland during its early days in the French & Indian War. But this historic site ties in closely with two other subjects worthy of being passed along – the Maryland Rifle Regiment and my great (five times) grandfather Joseph Neale.

The reenacting community and 18th century aficionados generally have been going to Ft. Frederick for decades.  Over the years, the activities held there have changed but it is the perfect venue for doing so many things.  They hold an annual 18th century trade fair and for many years they have allowed reenactors to stay in their recreated barracks and conduct live fire on their ranges, including cannon.  However, an interest in the history of the Fort presents some problems.  The Maryland Park Rangers will tell you parts of the story, and there are things to learn in the Welcome Center and from the Civilian Conservation Corps museum located in front of the Fort.  But if you are looking for a comprehensive narrative that begins in 1755, when construction began, and carries through at least the Revolutionary War, you need to do a lot of literary digging.  There is no complete narrative that I am aware of, but research in the Maryland Archives Online, among other sources, has produced a general outline of the Fort Frederick story for its first 25 years.

The second and third stories to be told here concern the fact that Fort Frederick was once home to the Maryland & Virginia Rifle Regiment, better known in its later incarnation as the Maryland Rifle Corps., and the fact that my 5th generation grandfather, Joseph Neale, was recruited into that unit while it was based at the Fort in 1778.


Two Stories from Battle Road

Two Stories From Battle Road

by Joe Wagner

The engagements along what has become known as “Battle Road” between Concord and Boston MA., on April 19th, 1775, were the beginning of our Revolution, and the things that happened along that road were unique and interesting events in more than the obvious historical way.  If you have read John Galvin’s book, “The Minutemen”, with its incredible detail of names, units, times, etc., as just one example, you realize someone went to a lot of trouble to gather copious amounts of detailed information.  Compare the records of Battle Road to the rest of the war, when we often know almost nothing of the details of even major battles and other significant events.  The detail concerning April 19th, 1775 is available because of politics.  So much detail is available on the events of that one day because the patriot politicians of Massachusetts wanted to publicize the overwhelming response of the American people to the tyrannical acts of the British army.  They wanted to prove to the world the broad-based support the rebellion had among the common people, and the strength they could bring against the British army.  To document this story, the Whigs of Massachusetts interviewed and wrote down the story of virtually every individual person who played any role in the events of April 19th. This record provides a most complete picture of revolutionary America, not only of the battle, but of life and times in colonial New England.  Here are two stories from that record: