Gist, Mordecai

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Gist, Mordecai

GIST, MORDECAI. (1743–1792). Continental general. Maryland. Great-grandson of Christopher Guest (d. 1691) and nephew of the famous colonial scout, he received an elementary education and somewhat later entered business in Baltimore. In July 1775 he was elected captain of the Baltimore Independent Company and on 14 January 1776 was commissioned second major of the First Maryland, the famous regiment raised by William Smallwood. He commanded this unit at Long Island in New York on 27 August, where he and his men distinguished themselves in heavy fighting in the open against European professionals. Smallwood commanded the Marylanders at White Plains but was wounded there, and Gist led them in their role as rear guard during the retreat through New Jersey. He was promoted to colonel on 10 December 1776 and commanded the Third Maryland at Germantown. In 1778 he served in the light infantry corps commanded by General Charles Scott. On 9 January 1779 he was appointed brigadier general and assumed command of the Second Maryland Brigade. In April 1780 he started south with Kalb's column. At Camden on 16 August, he won the praise of Kalb and on 14 October 1780 was included in the Camden Thanks of Congress. Gist fought at Yorktown in September and October of 1781, and at Combahee Ferry on 27 August 1782. Retiring on 3 November 1783, he bought a plantation near Charleston and settled there with his third wife. He carried his preoccupation with American politics so far as to name one son Independence (1779) and another States Rights (1787). A grandson, Brigadier General States Rights Gist, was killed in action at Franklin, Tennessee, on 30 November 1864, while leading his Confederate brigade.

SEE ALSO Camden Campaign; Combahee Ferry, South Carolina; Long Island, New York, Battle of; Smallwood, William.


Blakeslee, Katherine W. Mordecai Gist and His American Progenitors. Baltimore: n.p., 1923.

Branford, Lynch G. "Brigadier General Mordecai Gist." DAR Magazine (December 1931): 720-724.

                            revised by Harry M. Ward