Bland (1742-1790) was a descendant of Pocahontas, on his mother's side. He was sent abroad for schooling and in 1763 was graduated from the University of Edinburgh as an M.D. Bland practiced medicine in Virginia from 1764 until ill-health forced him to give up being a doctor in 1771. After his retirement he became an active patriot. In June 1775, Bland, along with 23 others, helped to remove arms from the governor's palace in Williamsburg, storing them at a powder magazine.
In June 1776, Bland became a captain in the first troop of Virginia cavalry, going on to became a colonel in the 1st Continental dragoons.
At the Battle of Brandywine, Bland commanded light cavalry troops. Bland's cavalry were among the few horseman available to Washington for scouting purposes on the day of the battle.
Some blamed the American defeat at Brandywine on Bland's poor scouting abilities. "Light-Horse" Harry Lee in particular holds Bland responsible. Lee cited Bland's failure to gain proper knowledge of Cornwallis's movements as a critical turning point.
But to place the entire blame at Brandywine on Bland's reports is to ignore the fact that Washington had been receiving confusing and contradictory reports the entire day of the battle.
Lee's summation of his fellow Virginian: "Colonel Bland was noble, sensible, honorable, and amiable; but never intended for the department of military intelligence."