Harford History

1781: Hungry Troops

January 28, 2007

On Jan. 24, 1781, Quartermaster Richard Dallam of Abingdon wrote to Gov. Thomas Sim Lee concerning the passage of troops through Harford County during the War for Independence.

"A detachment of 32 wagons with Captain Brown's artillery passed a few days ago and experienced much the want of provisions, and the inhabitants have also suffered thereby." Hungry troops forced local citizens to supply them in exchange for worthless certificates of reimbursement.

Although Harford County was not invaded during the conflict, the constant military traffic was a source of anxiety. Dallam was concerned that without an officer to provide rations to the soldiers, the incidents, which "cause much murmur among the people," would continue.

A signer of the Bush Declaration, Dallam was charged with ensuring that supplies were available for the Colonial forces. The many area grist mills provided ground corn and wheat to the Continental Army and for distribution to needy citizens, according to the Proceedings of the War Committee from 1774 to 1781. Swansbury Mill on Swan Creek, Magnolia Mill on Winters Run and Bush Mill at Harford Town all were operating during this period.

[Source: Our Harford Heritage by C. Milton Wright; research by Harford County Public Library]

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