Oh the term, and name, “Patriot,” is being thrown around with reckless abandon this January, but not “thrown around” for the perennial reason with the New England Patriots making the NFL playoffs again—as they failed this year, after 17 appearances and five Super Bowls since 2000. I’m no fan of those Patriots, but I love the Boston-area patriots of 1775-1776 and forever beholden to my alma mater, the Gov. Thomas Johnson High School Patriots, a school that my wife and oldest son attended, while three more boys attend currently.
Dictionaries offer the definition of the word patriot, as “a person who vigorously supports their country and is prepared to defend it against enemies or detractors.”
Now, I know the media, politicians and some citizens (to themselves) are applying this term in respect to supposed “freedom fighters” involved in current (and past year) domestic events. I get the analogy, but I prefer seeing the lost fashion fad of tri-cornered hats at SAR functions and in Colonial Williamsburg.
Call me old-school, but I prefer the age-old use learned in childhood that associates the term strictly with soldiers, militiamen and others who donated money, food, supplies and expertise to the Continental Army of the 13 Colonies in the War of Independence against Great Britain and King George III. An interesting side note, mentioned before in this blog series, is that the king’s father was the namesake of our fair town and county—Frederick Lewis, Prince of Wales.
As a matter of fact, my parents gave me a bedroom with a patriot/American Revolution theme—no lie. My younger brothers had nautical and zoo themes respectively upon our move here to Frederick in 1974. I remember the Bicentennial year all too well, and my youngest brother and I even went as patriots for Halloween.
I have to say, although some may think this was potential child abuse, (ie: a bedroom complete with Rev War-themed curtains, decoupage wall plaques of colonial soldiers, a Betsy Ross 13-star flag pinned on the wall, colonial drum bookends and piggy-bank and a 1776 bed comforter), it was definitely a factor playing a role in my career direction. I’ve said this before, TJ High School, and my time as a Patriot, was a prime influence on me as I had incredible teachers and the type of high school experience that you remember fondly for your lifetime.
In 2019, we had a nice little commemoration marking the 200th death of the fore-mentioned Thomas Johnson, a true patriot in the sense of the word who was a member of the Continental Congress, led Maryland troops in the American Revolution, helped draft Maryland’s state constitution and became it’s first elected governor. TJ served as one of the first Supreme Court justices and helped survey Washington DC as the new nation’s capital.
Johnson was originally buried in the old All Saints’ Cemetery bordered by Carroll Creek and E. All Saints’ Street. He was re-interred in 1913, just one of many other patriots that were moved here from now gone downtown burying grounds. We have 40 confirmed patriots here in Mount Olivet today. Johnson’s brothers, James and Baker, are among these. Another well-represented, patriotic family went by the name of Mantz, and one of these actual patriots of ’76 has a birthday coming up at week’s end.
January 16th, 2021 marks the 188th anniversary of the passing of former Frederick resident Peter Mantz. Now I know this is not a traditional anniversary year to commemorate one’s death date, but I didn’t want to wait until 2033, based on 2020, and the rate we are going in 2021 thus far.
Peter Mantz is best known as one of Frederick County’s foremost soldiers in the Revolutionary War. A fitting celebration of this gentleman took place here at Mount Olivet back on June 28th, 2009. It was sponsored by The Sergeant Lawrence Everhart Chapter, Maryland Sons of the American Revolution, and featured an official dedication of Mantz’s gravesite by members of the MDSSAR Continental Color Guard and Rev. Frederick Pyne. The event was emceed by Chapter President Douglas and more than thirty folks were in attendance.
Captain Peter Mantz was born in Chester, Pennsylvania on November 18th, 1752 and moved early in his youth to Frederick County, Maryland. He was the son of German immigrants Johann Casper Mantz (1718-1791) and Anna Christina Heim (1728-1804), both hailing from Baden-Wurttemberg.
Peter Mantz was among nine children belonging to an affluent family as the name of his father is readily found in the annals of our local history as a colonial-era “mover and shaker.” Our subject apparently received some form of organized education in the early days of Frederick, likely provided by the Evangelical Reformed Church of Frederick. He is said to have worked as a land surveyor and speculator. At the time of his death, he is reported to have owned 1,110 acres in Frederick and Allegany counties, plus five lots and ground rents on five more lots in Frederick Town by 1798.
The winds of war blew strong in the mid-1770s and Peter and a few brothers answered the call to take up arms. Peter was part of the Toms Creek Gamecock Brigade. His father (Casper Mantz) also contributed money, food and supplies to the war effort.
“Captain Peter Mantz’ Company, Maryland Flying Camp, 1776”. On 3 June 1776, the Continental Congress resolved a ten-thousand-man flying camp be created to augment the Continental Army. This company was raised in Frederick County, Maryland. Company members are shown in their well-worn uniforms the morning of 16 September 1776 before fighting at Harlem Heights. Illustration by Don Long. Illustration from page 168 of Military Collector and Historian, Journal of the Company of Military Historians, Vol. 66, No. 2, Summer 2014.
Peter eventually raised his own unit of soldiers from Frederick. He would serve with the 33rd Battalion of the Continental forces and was captain of the 1st Maryland Battalion of “the Flying Camp” during the Revolutionary War. What’s a “Flying Camp” you may ask? Well after the British evacuation of Boston in March 1776, Gen. George Washington met with members of the Continental Congress to determine future military strategy. Faced with defending a huge amount of territory from potential British operations, Washington recommended forming a "flying camp,” which in the military terminology of the day referred to a mobile, strategic reserve of troops. Congress agreed, and on June 3rd, 1776, passed a resolution "that a flying camp be immediately established in the middle colonies and that it consist of 10,000 men ...."
The men recruited for the Flying Camp were to be militiamen from three colonies: 6000 from Pennsylvania, 3400 from Maryland, and 600 from Delaware. They were to serve until December 1st, 1776, unless discharged sooner by Congress, and to be paid and fed in the same manner as regular soldiers of the Continental Army.
In July, 1776, Captain Mantz led his fellow Marylanders to the area of New Jersey to support Gen. George Washington's defense of New York City and the island of Manhattan in July. He and his part of the Flying Camp saw combat at the Battle of Harlem Heights, and nearby Fort Washington, where they took heavy losses.
Afterwards, Mantz became a temporary major from September to December 2nd (1776) as the British overwhelmed the American forces in and around New York. His unit helped to cover the retreat of Washington's Army as it raced across New Jersey to the Delaware River.
One of the officers in a different company in Mantz’s regiment, William Beatty, kept a diary of his time in the army. Their experiences would have been similar. You can read it online here within a 1906 edition of Maryland Historical Magazine:
Peter Mantz returned to Frederick in 1777 as he was appointed militia recruiting officer for Frederick County. After the war, Mantz served as tax commissioner in 1783, 1785, 1786 and a decade later in 1797. He served in legislative office by winning election for Maryland’s Lower House representing Frederick County in the 1782-83 General Assembly, however he did not attend and resigned in November, 1782. He would serve in this role, however, from 1786-1787. In that same year of 1787, he was made surveyor of Frederick County, and switched over to county sheriff from 1788-1791.
Engelbrecht’s diary entry makes mention that our "patriot of interest" was originally placed in a burying ground that no longer exists in downtown Frederick, known as the Mantz Graveyard. This property appears on old tax property maps on the north side of West Fourth Street and was more square than long and narrow like most city lots, so I researched it further. The Mantz burying ground was on the northeast corner of West Fourth and Klineharts Alley, running 110 feet along Fourth and 80 feet along the Alley. Today, the addresses are 21, 23 and 25 West Fourth.
After an equity case in 1885 (William Mantz et al vs Charles Trail et al), the property was sold to the German Baptist Brethren to build a house of worship. The deed also specified that they were to "take proper care of the human remains buried in said lot of ground." The Brethren sold the property in 1955, and in 1962, it was sold to the Peoples Baptist Church. The property was sold by that church in 1973 to a private party, but the property was still "commonly known as Mantz Burying Ground" as late as a 1978 deed.
From our records, Peter appears to have been re-interred here in Mount Olivet on October 5th, 1855. This was roughly a year-and-a half after our garden cemetery opened.
Other family members are buried here too including his wife, parents, siblings, and multiple children. In his funeral plot located in Area E/Lot 138, one can find:
A few lots away in Area E/Lot 147, rest three of Patriot Peter's sons who fought in the War of 1812: Peter Mantz, Jr. (1794-1872), Ezra Mantz (1779-1828), and David Mantz (1785-1826).
In recent times, visitors and genealogists found the tombstone of Major Peter Mantz was eroded to the point that it was illegible. The Everhart SAR Chapter took the initiative to order a new military tombstone from the Veterans’ Administration. This would be unveiled at that commemorative event back in 2009.
To learn more about Mount Olivet’s other patriots from the American Revolution, I invite you to visit our companion website, www.MountOlivetVets.com. Here, we are building memorial pages for over 4,000 veterans in Mount Olivet. The website, published in fall, 2017, can best be described as "a work in progress," and is being continually added to. We humbly ask for the assistance of descendants, historians and friends to provide us with photographs. portraits, documents and/or additional information of note to add. We also want to link to other sources of information regarding our vets, and the training and battles they participated in.
As opposed to a finished publication like a book, we have the opportunity to add supplemental images and information at will, while also having the ability to correct errors and misnomers. We hope this site provides an educational and informational portal, one that sheds light on why Frederick, Maryland has always been linked to patriotism and the American flag.