Thomas Carney

Portrait of Thomas Carney
Dale Watson
War & AffiliationRevolutionary War / American
Date of Birth - Death1752-1828

In 1752 or 1754, Thomas Carney was born to free African American parents who lived on Maryland’s eastern shore. Carney volunteered to fight for the American cause during the Revolutionary War when he was in his early twenties. 

He first joined Sarer’s Company of Maryland militia, fighting at the Battle of Germantown on October 4, 1777. Later, in May 1778, he enlisted in the 5th Maryland Regiment, then transferred to the 7th Maryland Regiment. Carney was promoted to corporal—the lowest-ranking non-commissioned officer rank—in the 7th Maryland; he was one of the few known African American soldiers to hold this rank during the Revolutionary War. He re-enlisted on August 1, 1780, but his reasons for absence from military service prompting  re-enlistment are unclear.

Fighting in the Southern Campaigns, Carney—according to legend—carried wounded Major General Perry Benson off the battlefield during the Siege of Ninety Six, helping to save the officer’s life. 

Carney was discharged from military service on November 15, 1783, and returned to Maryland. He lived with his wife, Grace, and their two daughters, Alice and Rebecca. When Carney applied for a soldier’s pension, he listed the battles he participated in: Germantown, Brandywine, White Plains, Monmouth, Camden, Guilford Court House, Ninety Six, and Eutaw Springs. He received his pension in 1818.

Thomas Carney’s death in 1828 was noted in local newspapers which praised his “spirit of true patriotism” and dedicated military service. 

Related Battles

South Carolina | May 22, 1781
Result: British Victory
Estimated Casualties