It is timely during our celebration of our nation's independence, that SJGD member Sue Gaither Vanzant alerted us to an updated and expanded biography of Revolutionary War Captain, Colonel Henry Chew Gaither. The biography and an excellent account of Colonel Gaither’s life written by Burkely Herman is located on the Maryland State Archives site dedicated to the Maryland 400. Mr. Herman is a 2016 Maryland Society of the Sons of American Revolution Research Fellow. The blog and biography provide valuable insight into the times in which Colonel Gaither lived and his service to our country.
According to the biography on the Maryland State Archives site, Gaither participated in the Battle of Brooklyn, in which the Maryland First Regiment, later known as the Maryland 400, held off the British while the rest of the Continental Army escaped Long Island to safety. He served throughout the War, including Cowpens (1781), Guilford Courthouse (1781), spent the winters at Valley Forge, and Morristown, and rose in rank from Ensign to Captain. After the War, he rose in rank from Captain to Lieutenant Colonel, serving two years on the Western frontier in Ohio, seven years on the Georgian frontier, and two years in the Mississippi Territory. Colonel Gaither retired from the Army in 1802.
He was a successful plantation owner with land holdings in Washington, D.C.; Montgomery and Alleghany Counties, Maryland; and the Northwest Territory. Colonel Gaither died on June 25, 1811 at 61 years of age. His passing was “well honored” by the military and citizens alike.
Society member, Sue Vanzant, through her own research, played an important role in expanding the biography of Colonel Gaither. She said, “When researching the war and finding that the Battle of Brooklyn was Henry's first battle and the part the "400" [Maryland 400] played in it led me to the new site at the MSA [Maryland State Archives] regarding the 400. Seeing Captain Bowie's letter on the MSA "Finding the Maryland 400" and seeing Henry Chew Gaither's name as witness on the letter was the thing that confirmed that he was part of the battle.” Colonel Gaither was a witness to Captain Bowie’s last will prior to his death in the Battle of Brooklyn. Sue forwarded her research of War Department records to the team researching the “Maryland 400” at the Maryland State Archives, which resulted in the updated biography.
“I really like doing research and this is fun for me. I have finished Vol. I of my line of Gaithers up to the time we leave Maryland for Cincinnati. My next problem is finding all the people that I need permissions from to cite or quote their work,” said Sue Vanzant.
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