Johann “Hans” Martin Kirschman

Private in the Maryland Militia

2nd Battalion

Captain James Smith’s Company

Washington County, Maryland

So far we have not been able to find very much about the actual military service of our German immigrant, Hans Martin Kirschman.  We know he first arrived in Philadelphia, PA on 19 Sep. 1752 as a young, 20 year-old, man with a young bride and their first child--Catherine Kirschman / Cashman.  He first settled in Berks Co., PA, then moved to York Co., PA and just about the time the Revolutionary War began, in around 1776, he moved his family from Pennsylvania, to Washington Co., Maryland, just across the boarder to the south of where they had recently been living in Pennsylvania.

As soon as they arrived in the colony of Maryland the 44 year old Hans Martin enlisted in the local Washington County militia.  By this time Hans’s oldest son, George, was about 20 years of age, and he also enlisted in the same company, but was assigned to serve in a different “class.”  It appears that their enlistment period may have been for the duration of about one year--1776-1777.  At that time Captain James Smith was authorized to muster in a company of soldiers to be in the 2nd Battalion.  We don’t know what type of service they performed, but most likely it was to patrol and guard against potential Indian attacks locally.  We know that about a year later George and his wife had their first child baptized in the St. John’s Lutheran Church in Hagarstown, MD, which may indicate that he (and the local militia) may not have been taken very far from their homes. 

From: The Maryland Militia in the Revolutionary War, by S. Eugene Clements and F. Edward Wright, Family Line Publications, Silver Springs, MD.  1987. (copy of which can be found in the Spokane City Library) we find the following on pages 239-240.

     A List of Capt James Smiths Compy as now Class.  Second Battn. No. 4, 1 Liet. Robert Smith;

     2 do. Christian Ekell; Ensign Peter Mellott (not fit) 1 Sergt. Benjn. South; 2 do. Thomas Melott

     (fit for a officer); 1 Corpl. John Cross...

     2d Class: William Crossley; John Lieter; George Lower; Ignatious Simms; Ignatius Knott;

     Leonard Woolf; Ezekeil Chiney; James Kirkpatrick; George Kishman; Aron Bowman

     7th Class: Valentine Paphenbarger; Christian Neldie; Mathias Knode; Jacob Petay;

     Francis Gaven; Michael Caye; Frederick Sidner; Martin Kishman.

From this it is evident that our ancestor, Martin “Kishman” (sic) served in the local militia for Washington County, MD and his oldest son, George “Kishman,” is shown above as being in the 2d class. He had another son who was also named “Martin Kirschman, Jr.” but he was only 14 years old at this time and not old enough to enlist.    So, this “Martin” is definitely our ancestor. 

In 1778, Martin Kirschman’s tour of duty in the militia seems to have ended.  Nevertheless, he appeared before the local magistrate in Washington County, the Honorable Henry Schnebley, and took the Oath of Allegiance at that time.  Such an oath was requested by the new country to determine which men were patriots and which were tories, or loyalists to the Crown.  [Revolutionary Patriots of Washington County, Maryland 1776-1783.  Henry C. Peden, Jr. p.98  FHL (SLC) 975.291 m28p.]

The next patriotic event for which we have a record was following General Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown, VA to General George Washington in 1781, which began the wind up of the war.  At the conclusion of that battle, thousands of British soldiers were taken prisoner and marched north through Virginia and up the Potomac River to a point in Berkeley County (now West Virginia) across the river from Washington County, Maryland.  Fort Frederick, located in Maryland, was converted into use as a prison for these soldiers.  It was a secure location far from the main battle sites that were closer to the coast.  But, the Potomac River at this point is already wide and these men had to be ferried across it. The Virginia militia marched the captives to this location, and they were responsible for the expense of ferrying them over into Maryland.  Our Martin Kirschman operated a ferry on the river at this point and we find the following entry for services rendered by him, for which he received a certificate that could be redeemed at a later date for actual money, if the United States won their war. 

     Martin Kershman alld (allowed) L7 - 17 (7 pounds, 17 shillings) for ferriage over Potawmack

     River, 556 prisoners and guards and 1 wagon & team on march from Winchester, Virginia to

     Fort Frederick. 

[Source: Virginia Publick Claims Berkeley County, Janice L. Abercrombie and Richard Slatten.  Iberian Publishing Company, Pg. v gives dates 1779-1781 and Pg. 18 lists Martin Kershman.]

Martin Kirschman would have been about 49 years old at this time, but still in stout physical condition and capable of operating his ferry boat.  He had a son by the same name, who would have been about 19 by then, but probably not well enough off yet to own his own ferry business, which leads us again to believe that this Martin, was indeed, our direct ancestor, “Martin Kirschman.”