Maryland Women and French Officers
AMONG the old historic families of Maryland, none were more prominent in its social and political life at the period of the Revolution than the Ogles and Dulanys. Governor Samuel Ogle and the second Daniel Dulany married sisters, daughters of the Hon. Benjamin Tasker, who was for thirty years president of the Council, and at one time acting governor of the colony. Mrs. Samuel Ogle had been a widow many years, and her son, Benjamin Ogle, also a governor of Maryland at a later date, was at this time a young married man, living in Annapolis, with a gay and pretty wife, and thinking just then, possibly, more of society than of politics. He was quite in sympathy with the Revolution, however, and ready at need to give it his support. Not so his talented uncle, the famous Maryland jurist, Daniel Dulany, secretary of Maryland. In 1765 he had written a patriotic pamphlet against the Stamp Act, proving his liberal sentiments. But later, becoming engaged in a bitter political controversy with Charles Carroll of Carrollton, in 1773, the personal alienation from the leaders of the Revolution in Maryland which grew out of this affair led him to be ranged, in 1776, with his country’s enemies. The three children of Daniel Dulany and Rebecca Tasker were Daniel, Benjamin Tasker, and Ann. The first of these adopted the profession of his father, and, like him, was a loyalist. He died in England, leaving no heirs. His brother, Colonel Benjamin Tasker Dulany, threw himself into the Revolutionary cause with all the ardor of generous youth, and General Washington appointed him one of his aids. He removed to Shuter’s Hill, Fairfax County, Virginia, becoming one of Washington’s neighbors, and marrying, in Fairfax County, Elizabeth French, of Claremont. Washington, in one of his letters, speaks of this lady as “ our celebrated fortune, whom half the world was in pursuit of.” 1
William Eddis, an Englishman, who held office in Annapolis under Governor Eden, in his published letters, which give a vivid picture of Maryland’s social life from 1769 up to the Revolution, tells how he found refuge, when Annapolis became too revolutionary for his comfort, at Daniel Dulany’s beautiful country-seat, Hunting Ridge, about six miles from Baltimore. “ I write to you,” he says to his wife, November, 1776, “from one of the most delightful situations on the continent of America, where I have obtained an occasional retreat from the noise, the tumult, and the miseries of the public world. From the back piazza of our habitation we command a truly picturesque view into several fertile counties, a distant prospect of the Eastern Shore, the magnificent waters of the Chesapeake, and the river Patapsco from the entrance at the Bodkin Point to its apparent termination at the town of Baltimore. After this inadequate description I need not observe that we reside on a lofty eminence, where
Nimbly and sweetly recommends itself
Unto our gentle senses.’ ”
Here Ann Dulany, who shared the sentiments of her father and elder brother, spent part of her time during the Revolution, and bemoaned the changed aspect of society since her friends, the British, were no longer in the ascendant. She wrote to her cousin, Miss Lowndes, who lived near Bladensburg, on the 26th of October, 1780: “I am just returned from the race. Mamma and I went by way of amusement, and a poor affair it was; very different from the races in good times (as we Tories call them). What a strange mixture of Dutch, French, and every nation but the right [one] ; quite a ribble-rabble. However, this is my secret opinion, my friend. I would not have it known for the world.
I should be deemed a person void of taste.”
Two other letters written from Hunting Ridge, in the following year, to the same correspondent, have been preserved, in which the Tory Ann betrays a good deal of political excitement: —
HUNTING RIDGE, February 3, 1781.
By what you tell me, my dear friend, at least three of my letters have been stopped by the inspectors. They were sent by our servants to the post office at Baltimore Town, and I am certain they went from there unmolested. It must have been between or at Annapolis, that Den of —. I hope Mr. Hambleton may make us a visit, though he will find this a very different place from the Wood Lands (his elegant seat), which that villain, J. Read, wanted to call his own. Poor fellow, he has been sadly persecuted. But even bad as this place is, in all probability we shall not have it in our power to remain here much longer, as I believe there is little doubt of the Confiscation Bill passing. These In . . . . als should consider well, before they put this most infamous work into execution, the policy of such an act (humanity is out of the question) ; for, as somebody says, “ though they have now the rein, it may not always be the case.”However, S. C. [Samuel Chase ?] can make his geese do anything. . . .
What a beautiful mixture bright red and a full orange must be ! I am sure it must be French, for no other people under the sun could invent anything half so tawdry. Also hoops are the rage. Mamma has been giving me a description of one. They were fashionable many years ago. Aunt Lowndes will tell you what they are, — a very good match for the above colors. The cushion you were so obliging as to send me is quite the thing, and exactly as I would have wished. I wish I had it in my power not to be outdone in generosity.
I am determined for the future to direct to your papa in the most unladylike manner, that it may pass without inspection. What a noble thing deception is ! I wish I could learn the art. I am wild to go to Fm Tn. I think it must be a little New York. . . .
Happiness attend you.
“Mr. Hambleton” of the Woodlands was either Andrew or William Hamilton, of Pennsylvania. These brothers owned a handsome country-seat west of the Schuylkill, called the Woodlands, which at that time was considered the finest estate in the province. Andrew Hamilton married Abigail Franks, of Philadelphia, a Tory belle of that city. Her sister, Rebecca Franks, distinguished for her wit and social graces, afterwards the wife of a British officer, is often mentioned in the annals of the day.
March 6, 1781.
I have, my ever dear cousin, to return you thanks for two letters, both of which I should have answered sooner, but had not the good opportunity I now send this by. Give my love to your sister, and tell her I have no receipt for dieing [sic] ; it is a mixture that I have had some time that I use on that occasion. And I also beg you will tell her that if she will trust me with a gown, or anything else (that is white), I shall have very particular pleasure in giving it the fashionable hue, or as many shades paler as she pleases. I am about dieing a calash for myself of the fashionable color. If she will direct the parcel by a careful hand to me, to the care of Mr. Clarke, merchant at Baltimore Town, it will be as safe as in her own drawer.
I am much obliged to you for poor dear André’s epitaph, and do most ardently join in the wishes of the writer in regard to a certain very, very great personage. I like the comparison between him and Richard, —even Richard gains by it. The other has not feeling enough to have a troubled mind !
Mamma desires her love to my aunt and thanks her for the strawberries, and also to Mr. Stoddert for the trouble he has been at. Apropos of Mr. S., tell your little sister, if I have not an invitation when a certain event takes place, woe be to her.
Papa is calling for this scrawl, or I should have scribbled on all sides. Farewell, my dear friend.
Believe me entirely yours,
The “ certain very, very great personage ” was probably General Washington. Miss Seward, the Swan of Lichfield, in her Monody on Major André compares Washington to Nero.
Mrs. Benjamin Ogle wrote from Annapolis, in this same month of March, 1781, in quite a different strain from Tory Ann. The letter is to her husband’s cousin, Ann Dulany’s correspondent. “ The town is so dull,” says this lively lady, “ it would be intolerable were it not for the officers. I sometimes see them, but am not acquainted with many. I scarcely ever see or hear the name of a gentleman of our former acquaintance. ’T is all marquises, counts, etc. One very clever French colonel I have seen. I like the French better every hour. The divine Marquis de la Fayette is in town, and is quite the thing. We abound in French officers, and some of them very clever, particularly the colonel before mentioned. But the marquis, — so diffident, so polite, in short everything that is clever ! I have seen one tolerable American among them, a Major Macpherson, one of the marquis’s family ; perhaps that has polished him. The British ships are still here, and a great number of boats, with the troops on board, are gone out to-day, and I expect every moment to hear the cannon. Everybody seems quite anxious to know the fate of this day.” Both ladies, Whig and Tory alike, were inclined to look down upon the soldier of home manufacture. Major Macpherson, the “ tolerable American,” was from Philadelphia. He had received a military training in the British army, joining the Continental troops in 1779. He was at this time serving as aid-de-camp to Lafayette. In March, 1781, Annapolis was blockaded by two British sloops of war, which for a time obstructed the progress of the forces under Lafayette, then on their way to Virginia. But, by a skillful manœuvre of the young commander, the English ships were led to believe the allies too strong for them, and they retreated.
In the fall of 1781 the Dulanys removed from Hunting Ridge to Baltimore, from which place Ann Dulany dates the rest of her letters. Meanwhile, America was rejoicing over the victory at Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis. Tory Ann makes no felicitations upon this event, but has slighting words for both Americans and French. She shows her goodness of heart, however, by her sympathy for Mrs. Washington in the loss of her son. She must have met young Jack Custis while a school-hoy in Annapolis, and a lover of Nelly Calvert, Governor Eden’s niece, whom he married in 1774. Now, after a few short years of wedded happiness and of honorable political service in the Virginia Assembly, John Custis was dead, a victim of camp fever at Yorktown. Ann Dulany writes: —
“ I am very sorry for the death of Mr. Custis, but much more so for the Sufferings of poor Mrs. Washington. Does not this prove, had we wanted a proof, that there is no such thing as perfect happiness in this world of uncertainty ? I dare say, a few days before this accident happened, Mrs. Washington thought herself completely happy. I have heard he got the disorder of which he died by going into the British hospitals at York.
“ There is just going past five hundred men from Virginia, on their way to the northwest. It is impossible they can be of any service, — nothing but parade. Lord Cornwallis must laugh at such poor creatures. It was the French that did everything. But, do what they will, even the Whigs dislike them. There are several in this place, but very little notice taken of them.”
Ann was to change her opinion of the French a little later. But at first there were none to compare with the “ dear Britains,” as she called them. She declared she would not give one for all the French nobles she had seen in “ Baltimore Town ; ” and Sir William Draper was “superior in everything to all.” He and Sir Robert Eden were her models of fine gentlemen. The former had visited America in 1769, and spent some time in New Berne, North Carolina, where he wrote a Latin inscription for the famous executive mansion in that town. He was an accomplished man, and had crossed swords in controversy with the formidable Junius in defense of the Marquis of Granby. While in America he had married a New York lady. He was made subsequently lieutenantgovernor of Minorca. Ann Dulany had probably met him frequently at her father’s house in Annapolis. Here also she had known and admired Governor Eden. Mrs. Eden had brought over, in 1768, a letter to Ann Dulany’s aunt, Mrs. Lowndes, from Barbara Bladen, a first cousin of the Tasker sisters on her father’s side, as on her mother’s she was related in the same degree to Lord Baltimore’s daughter, Jane Calvert, the wife of Robert Eden. " Without prejudice I do say,” wrote Ann Dulany to Miss Lowndes, “ I would not give one dear Britain for the whole tribe [of Frenchmen], The formidable Count Dillon that there has been such a work about you have seen ; should he be named in the same century with our old acquaintance Sir Robert Eden?" One of Ann’s cousins was the object of her unmerciful raillery. This was Robert Bladen Carter, son of Councilor Carter, of Nomini, in Virginia. The latter was a wealthy Virginia planter, and a worthy representative of the Old Dominion both in character and attainments, as well as a man of fine personal appearance, as his portrait painted by Sir Joshua Reynolds gives evidence. But his son and namesake did not resemble him, it would seem. Ann Dulany compares her “ cousin Bob ” to the Viscount de Rochambeau, a son of General Rochambeau, and lieutenant-colonel of one of the French regiments, who, it appears, did not meet with the Tory lady’s approbation. “ I did not imagine,” she writes, “till I saw Viscount de Rochambeau, there had been anything on earth like our cousin Bob. I think there is a great resemblance between them.”
One of the unique features of social life in America during the Revolution was the presence of the French officers. As early as 1777 quite a number came over to the colonies, some as mere soldiers of fortune, others with the enthusiasm for liberty which inspired the ehivalric Lafayette. In Judge Iredell’s biography there is an entertaining notice of a party of Frenchmen who were in Edenton, North Carolina, in 1777, and offered their services to the government of that State. Chief among them were Pucheu, Noirmont de la Neuville, and La Tours. The two brothers, the Chevalier de la Neuville and Noirmont, did gallant service later in the Continental army. While in Edenton they gave a ball to the ladies, but the provincial belles were rather shy of the foreign beaux. Noirmont de la Neuville became quite intimate with James Iredell, who was a good French scholar, and could converse with him in his own language. On his departure he sent a letter to Iredell with the present of a book, and in his quaint English he adds: — " j take upon myself to offer your lovely niece another, entitled the Art of Loving, though written in French; j rely upon you about the translation of this witty poem. Besides, you shall think as j, that it is convenient of presenting the art of loving to which possesses the art of pleasing, j am, with the sentiments of the most lively gratitude,” etc.
Charles Armand Tufin, Marquis de la Rouerie, was another French officer who came over in this year, and was appointed a colonel in the Continental service. Armand’s legion suffered severely at Camden in 1780, and three years later Colonel Armand received the rank of brigadier-general. He passed with his command through Maryland in 1783, and afterwards wrote his thanks to the governor for the courteous treatment they had met with, taking occasion at the same time to compliment the Maryland line. In 1780 Count de Rochambeau, with his troops, landed at Newport, Rhode Island, and remained in America for two years and a half. Many of the first nobles of France were among the officers of this army, and to enumerate them is to call up a vision of the ancien régime, of the courtiers and fine gentlemen who graced the salons of France in the early years of the reign of Louis XVI. and his fascinating, beautiful queen. There were the Counts Christian and William de Deux Points, the Count de Custine, the Viscount de Chartres, the Viscount de Noailles, brother-in-law of Lafayette, the Baron and the Count de Viomenil, the Count de Dumas, the Count de Segur, the Chevalier de Lameth, and Count Arthur Dillon. Chief among Rochambeau’s officers, in the romantic interest attaching to his name through its connection later with the unfortunate Marie Antoinette, was the handsome and amiable Swede, Count Axel de Fersen. Afterwards, in memoirs and travels, the Duke de Lauzun, Chastellux, and others of these gay and accomplished men recalled their American life in more or less complimentary colors.
Going to and from Virginia in 1781, the memorable year of Yorktown, the French troops passed through Baltimore and Annapolis, and at other times some of the officers must have visited these two places and enjoyed the gayeties they afforded. The Abbé Robin, a chaplain in Rochambeau’s army, was struck with the appearance of wealth and luxury in Maryland’s little capital. He thought the ladies very extravagant, and he writes: “ Female luxury here exceeds what is known in the provinces of France. A French hairdresser is a man of importance amongst them; and it is said a certain dame here hires one of that craft at one thousand crowns a year.” One of these luxury-loving dames of Annapolis, doubtless, was the wife of Benjamin Ogle, the pretty Quakeress, Henrietta Hill. She had doffed gray gowns and sober fashions on her marriage, in 1770, with a young gentleman who loved society, it would seem, as much as she did, and she became one of the leaders of the ton in the important small city, which was to be for a brief period a federal as well as a state capital.
The marriage certificate of Governor Benjamin Ogle and Miss Hill is still preserved by one of their descendants, and runs in this wise : —
September 13, 1770.
I hereby certify, That by permission of Licence, granted by his Excellency Robert Eden Esq : Governor and Commander-in-chief in and over the Province of Maryland ; Benjamin Ogle and Henry [sic] Margaret Hill were this day lawfully married together, according to the Form and Manner prescribed in the Liturgy of the Church of England. DAV. LOVE,
Rector of Allhallows, Anne Arundel County.
But to return to Ann Dulany, who, though still enamored of her English friends, was beginning to look with a more gracious eye upon the sons of France.
BALTIMORE TOWN, December 29, 1781.
Your agreeable (but short letter without a date), my dear cousin, I received yesterday by the post. Why in the name of goodness did you not (as you once intended) write to me by the British officer ? A letter even from an indifferent correspondent by such an opportunity would have been welcome; judge, then, what a treat yours must have been.
A few days ago I had the pleasure of three French gentlemen (real gentlemen) to drink tea with me. One of them was a Count Somebody with a hard name; a very elegant man of fashion, one might see it at once. He holds his commission under the French king, and not under King Con. Also a youth of sixteen, who is the best performer on the violin without exception I ever heard. He was on board the ship that captured Lord Rawdon. He told us in broken English that Madam Doyl is a sweet lady, and that he could not tell how much he loved the British prisoners, and that he cried like an infant when they parted.
What a pity it is that every nation on earth show more liberality than our poor infatuated countrymen ! Lord Cornwallis, I am told, has sent many acceptable presents to the French commander in Virginia, with a polite letter thanking him and the French officers in general for their many civilities, but not a word to others.
There have been petitions on petitions for and against the playhouse. I have nothing to do with petitions, but I have done all in my power to contribute my part. L’Argeau is to have my harpsichord, and they talk of having part of Lord Cornwallis’s band. If so, there still will be wanting another thing to make it perfect — and you are that very thing. ... I have scarcely left, room to tell my dearest cousin how affectionately I am hers.
Adieu. ANN DULANY.
P. S. If ever you have an opportunity of writing by a British officer, I beg you to write. I have inclosed for your perusal an epitaph on Angel André Let Mrs. Stewart see it, and return it in your next.
BALTIMORE TOWN, March 22, 1782.
I am so charmed with the last evening’s entertainment, and so much fatigued with sitting up till two o’clock in the morning (a very late hour for me), and my head is crammed with what I saw and heard. You must know this ball was given in honor of Saint Patrick ; and as the managers knew that we were allied to this old saint, we were favored with an invitation several days before it happened. In the first place, the British band played a hundred new and elegant tunes. You know my passion for music (I need say nothing of the British). The whole affair was conducted with the utmost decorum, every delicacy on the table that can be imagined, infinitely superior (with sorrow I say it) to anything I have seen these six years. You would be surprised, my friend, to see the behavior and dress of the girls of this assembly. The polite end of the town have cause for envy (for you must know this ball was at Fell’s Point). There is a Miss Steele, who I wish you could see, as I know you are fond of looking at pretty things. She has, without exception, the finest face I ever saw ; in the Plater style, but without art or affectation.
The playhouse continues to be crowded every night. There had like to have been much mischief occasioned by a party of young fellows who were very drunk at the last play, but, by the mediation of friends, it is managed to the satisfaction of all. I saw a Frenchman next day, and said to him, “There was a fight last night.” He laughed very much, and said, “ They made lady fright, but no blood, madame. Upon my word, they did very great things,” said the little Frenchman, and away he tripped.
Mamma joins me in affectionate love.
Ever yours, ANN DULANY.
BALTIMORE TOWN, April 14, 1782.
MY DEAR COUSIN, — I am extremely obliged to you for your kind inquiries after the health of my dear brother. Mr. Cheston, who left London in October, informs us that he left him well and as happy as any person could be in his situation. But as he knows everything is inspected before it reaches us [he] declined writing.
Our old acquaintance, Dick Tilghman, is returned to England possessed of amazing wealth. And what is much to his credit, he boasts that it was all obtained with clean hands. He has wrote to his father to draw for a thousand a year, which he assures him can be paid without the least inconvenience. I never admired Dick so much in my life, though I always had a regard for him. It is not for his riches, but for his liberality and gratitude to a worthy father. If it were possible (and I was a man) to take his profession, I never would rest till I went to India and followed his noble example.
I am glad to hear my aunt Ogle is well. I do not wonder at her wishing to spend the Holy Days with her friends, or at her wishing to return, for surely any place on earth must be preferable to America.
Several Frenchmen visit me, and I find them agreeable. They are all easy and polite, and ready to oblige. They say the Tories are the people of fashion, at least, and they love and pity them for all their great sufferings. This is French flattery, some may think. But I beg leave to differ with all such. Because, when we reflect on their great loyalty and attachment to their king (and love for all kings in general), and their very great contempt for the rulers of this land, I believe them sincere. . . .
Remember me to all. With sincere affection, Yours,
I wish you would write nonsense, as I do, and then your letters would not be so short.
French flattery was winning over the fair Ann, and she ends at last by marrying a Frenchman. In 1783—84 the war was over, and the foreign troops were leaving America, while the Tories were coming back, and society was shaping itseff anew under the changed conditions of peace times. More than one of America’s patriot daughters, no doubt, felt that a pleasant element was passing out of their midst with the departure of the amiable, fraternizing Frenchmen ; and Tory Ann acknowledges, at last, their power to charm. She writes, May 4, 1783 : —
“ I have felt myself in a very awkward situation for several days past. The cause is parting with the French offieers that were intimately acquainted with us, and many of them most valuable acquaintances. I often wish myself as senseless as the paper I am writing on, but to no purpose.”
Congress met at Annapolis in 1783, and here Washington resigned his command. The Maryland Assembly was also in session, and the little town was very gay. There were still a few Frenchmen lingering on the scenes. MajorGeneral du Portail and Brigadier-General Armand were in Annapolis memorializing Congress on the subject of their pay and that of the officers under them. The Chevalier d’Annemours, consul-general of France in the States of Maryland, Virginia, etc., was holding conferences with a committee of the Maryland Assembly. The Chevalier de la Luzerne, the successor as French envoy to Gérard de Rayneval, was attending the session of Congress, and writing home to his government reports which should prove interesting material for the future historian. General Mifflin, the president of Congress, though a Philadelphian, was much at home in Maryland, where his stepmother, the wife of John Beale Bordley, was living at the latter’s beautiful and cultivated estate on Wye Island.
Among the returned loyalists at Annapolis at this time were Robert Eden, the late governor, and Henry Harford, the last lord proprietary of Maryland. The following undated letter of Henrietta Ogle’s to her cousin, Miss Lowndes, was evidently written in this winter of 1783-84 : —
This cruel weather has prevented me for some time hearing from my dear Miss Lowndes, but I hope it is now growing more moderate, and that people will soon travel about a little. But when the roads will be fit for you to come to Annapolis I know not.
I assure you the town is very agreeable. The minister has been about two weeks here, and two agreeable men with him, and a gay French officer, General Armand, with whom I danced last night at a ball where there were sixty ladies. Our friend was there in scarlet and gold, and looked like himself. You know I always thought him superior to most. We supped with him two nights ago, a snug party. Generally dine once a week with the president. The last time was day before yesterday, with forty. I must lay down my pen for some time, as I am told the prettiest fellow in the world is below, to whom I hope soon to introduce you.
The above was written yesterday, when I thought to have finished my letter, but was engaged in the evening to Mrs. Thomson, who has a tea-party every Saturday. Sometimes there will be thirty; however, it was a small one last night. I came home early, and had Mr. Harford and Mr. Smith to supper. Sir Robert at Strawberry Hill. . . .
Mr. Ogle says this is such stuff, don’t read it. He is as fat — and quite the beau ; never happy but in a party. . . .
Our tender love attend you all.
Very sincerely yours,
This moment a card to drink tea at Mr. Harford’s.
“ Our friend in scarlet and gold ” was evidently Sir Robert Eden, who seems to have been staying at Strawberry Hill, the residence of Richard Sprigg, in Anne Arundel County, near Annapolis. Sir Robert was in Maryland for the purpose of recovering some of his property. He died while in this country, and was buried under the pulpit of an old church two or three miles from Annapolis, probably the same Allhallows where Mrs. Ogle was married. Henrietta Ogle survived her husband, who died in 1809, and lived to a ripe old age. One among her many descendants, Benjamin Ogle Tayloe, an accomplished gentleman and lover of art, will be remembered in connection with the interesting collection presented to the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, which bears his name. A lovely portrait of his mother, Ann Ogle, daughter of Governor Benjamin and Henrietta Ogle, painted by Gilbert Stuart, is conspicuous among the family pictures in the Tayloe room. A volume of Benjamin Ogle Tayloe’s letters and essays, published by his widow for private circulation, contains a good deal that is characteristic and curious in relation to a generation that is passing away.
Ann Dulany married M. Delaserre, of whom her relatives in America at the present day seem to know nothing beyond the fact of his nationality. They went to England to live, probably on account of the troubles of the French Revolution. The only child of Mrs. Delaserre became the wife of Sir John Hunter, physician to the queen. She died childless, and bequeathed a large fortune to one of the Dulanys of Virginia, a descendant of Daniel Dulany’s patriot son, Colonel Benjamin Tasker Dulany. From Lady Hunter also came across the sea, to the young relative who bore her mother’s maiden name, the bequest of many valuable jewels. But when the jewel cases arrived, they were found to be filled with sets of pinchbeck and glass, the precious stones having all been stolen. Only two rings, a magnificent diamond and a carved ruby, reached their destination. The little heiress, then but nine years old, married later her cousin of the same name, and a son of this marriage now enjoys the fortune of Ann Dulany’s daughter.
Kate Mason Rowland.
- Commodore French Forrest, late C. S. N., was a grandson of Colonel Benjamin Tasker Dulany.↩