John Gassaway was born in Anne Arundel County , Maryland , on June 10,1754. He was the son of Henry Gassaway and Dinah Battee Gassaway.Gassaway was among the first Marylanders to spring to arms following theoutbreak of American Revolution. He enlisted in Colonel William SmallwoodMaryland Battalion on January 3, 1776. Gassaway was appointed an ensign in the3
Battalion, Maryland Flying Camp, in July 1776. The Flying Camp was a mobilereserve authorized by the Continental Congress. It consisted mainly of militia andstate troops from Maryland , Pennsylvania , and Delaware . The best of these troops,
including Smallwood’s Battalion, joined General George Washington’s Main Army in
time to participate in its futile defense of New York City.
When the enlistments of Smallwood’s Battalion and the Maryland Flying
Camp ran out at the end of 1776, Maryland raised a Continental Line consisting of seven regiments recruited for three years or the duration. Gassaway received anappointment as second lieutenant in the 2
Maryland Regiment effective December10, 1776. He was promoted to first lieutenant on April 17, 1777, captain-lieutenant on July 1, 1779, and captain on April 2, 1780.
Soon after Captain Gassaway’s last pr
omotion, the Maryland Division marchedsouth to form the backbone of the army entrusted to Major General Horatio Gates toreclaim South Carolina from British rule. Gates led his army to disaster at the Battleof Camden on August 16, 1780. The Maryland regiments stood, fought, and were cut to pieces after the Rebel militia fled. Captain Gassaway survived the slaughter andwas taken prisoner. The British paroled him, and he went unexchanged to the endof the war. One reason he remained on parole may be because there was nocompany for him to command.Gassaway took pride in his Continental service and became one of the originalmembers of the Society of the Cincinnati in 1783. He married Mary Quynn, thedaughter of Allen Quynn, in 1788, and they had three children.
After Mary’s death,
Gassaway married Elizabeth Price in 1799, and fathered three more children.Gassaway died on June 25, 1820.
Curators at the Smithsonian Institution date Gassaway’s portrait miniature t
Gassaway’s coat, however, reflects wartime styles, and it is more likely that
Charles Willson Peale painted him during the three years he spent on parolefollowing his capture at Camden. Gassoway wears a dark blue regimental coat withscarlet facings, which conforms to the uniform General George Washingtonprescribed for Maryland Continentals in his regulations of 1779.
are the winged variety.
The coat’s buttons are silver, and the buttonholes on the
lapels are decorated with rectangular loops made of either silver lace or couchedsilver threads over vellum.
A silver epaulette adorns Gassaway’s right shoulder
which is mounted on scarlet broadcloth. He also has a white ruffled shirt, a black neck stock, and a white waistcoat. He wears his hair powdered and
. It is