Memoir of the First Maryland regiment.
Baltimore, April 29, 1881.[Note.--This memoir of the First Maryland regiment, its campaigns and its marches, its services and its aspirations, was written in December, 1862, and January, 1863. It was intended to have been posthumous, as at that time, the probability of my surviving the war, was remote. It is an explanation of the causes which led to the formation of the Maryland organization in the Confederate army, of the hopes which that organization represented, and of the dreams which controlled those of us who looked to an ultimate accession of Maryland to the Confederacy. It was hurriedly written, in the midst of the trying winter of 1862-63, while I was acting as member of a court-martial at Richmond, and I have thought it best not to rewrite or correct it. I submit it in the rough form in which it was first written — appropriate to the times and temper which gave it birth. Most of it is on Confederate paper and all of it in Confederate ink, which in some places is almost illegible.
The beginning of the Revolution.The election of Abraham Lincoln brought on the issue between North and South, which sagacious men had foreseen for years, and which the events of the two preceding presidential terms had shown to superficial observers to be near at hand. While the more distant Southern States were moving promptly in defence of their institutions, the people of Maryland were not behind hand in such steps, as their political and geographical position enabled them to take. Their situation was peculiar. The people intensely Southern, with all their hearts, with their brethren of the Cotton States, they were on the frontier of the immense Northern empire exposed to the first assaults of its powers, with the certainty of being overwhelmed in the first shock of arms, and while they were ready to make common cause with the seceding States, the uncertainty of the action of the middle States--North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee--rendered it impossible to concert any action with those on the Gulf until the intervening States had taken their position. At the same time large portions of the people were unable to appreciate the presence of the crisis, and still clung to the hope that the storm might blow over and the Union be preserved. Once convinced that it was lost, they would have been nearly unanimous in taking sides with the ,South. While this was the condition of the people, the State Government occupied a position more equivocal. Thomas Holliday Hicks thrust into the gubernatorial chair against the popular vote by the fraud and bloodshed of the clubs of Baltimore, was regarded by many as utterly unworthy of belief or trust. His political antecedents made him an object not of distrust, but of absolute aversion and contempt to a large portion of the Southern men. On the other hand, a small, but respectable part of them, believed him to be true at heart to the South. This part was strong, from its political and social position, and by it the remainder was obliged to be checked in order to procure harmonious action. The legislature was known to be nearly unanimously true to the South. Under these circumstances, all that could be done was to apply to the governor to convene the legislature in extra session, which was done in the latter part of November. On the 3d of December, 1860, he replied with the first of those remarkable specimens of subterfuge, which he subsequently followed up with such masterpieces as have embalmed his reputation as a trickster among the most distinguished that history records.  In a letter to Governor Pratt, he declined at that time to convene the legislature, because he was in correspondence with the governors of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina, as to the best means of preserving the rights of the South, and at the same time most solemnly asseverated his entire devotion to the South, calling God to witness that he would be first to shoulder his musket to protect the South from invasion. A large body of the people believed his professions, and indeed it was difficult to make them appreciate treachery so great. He was a slaveholder himself, born and living in a slaveholding county, and in old party times had always acted with that wing of the Whig party, which had been intensely Southern in its views and acts. But the revolution moved on, and the people became impatient at his inaction. They insisted that their representatives should meet, so as to act for them as occasion might require. If Virginia seceded, then to join Maryland to Virginia in one common destiny, for weal or for woe. If the Middle States submitted, then to place Maryland side by side with them in protecting the Gulf States from war. With this view, St. Mary's and Charles counties provided for elections of delegates to a sovereign convention to take place in January. Frederick held a meeting on the 8th, issued an address, calling the convention for the 22d February, and elected delegates to it. The lead was followed, and on the 22d February that body met in Baltimore city, composed of the best men of the State--without regard to old party lines. But its action was trammelled. Hicks was out in another publication, most solemnly avowing his devotion to the South, and his fixed determination never to allow the soil of Maryland to be polluted by the tread of northern soldiers marching against the South. The Middle States had not moved. Indeed, so far as Virginia had expressed an opinion or taken a position, through her convention then in session at Richmond, it had been against the acts of the Cotton States. Nothing could be done but to watch and wait. The convention therefore appointed commissioners to proceed to Richmond to learn, if possible, the probable action of Virginia and report to an adjourned meeting to be held in Baltimore on the 15th March, proximo. On that day the body convened again, but the conference with Virginia had led to nothing. No one in Richmond was able to indicate the future action of the State, but as far as could be gathered it seemed probable that the convention would submit to Lincoln, while the people would resist, and thus involve the State at once in revolution and civil  war. The Baltimore convention was paralyzed. It could do nothing. The younger members, convinced that Virginia would eventually be forced into the war, insisted upon preparing the people, organizing minute-men, collecting and distributing arms and ammunition, and placing affairs in such a train that the blow once struck in Maryland would rouse the neighbouring States and involve them all in one common cause. The older and more cautious portion were opposed to this and only suggested waiting for Virginia. They had no other plan. They were told that Virginia might linger until we were overpowered, and then it would be too late, but they were unable to perceive the crisis, and refused to co-operate. The Convention consequently adjourned without action. But the more ardent spirits threw their energies into the work. They organized companies, formed bands of minute men, and prepared for action as quietly and as rapidly as possible. Here again the unspeakable treachery of Hicks was displayed. The Legislature at its session had provided for arming 10,000 minute men, but with foolish confidence had given the disbursement of the fund and the distribution of the arms into the hands of the Governor. When applied to now for them he alleged he had not yet received them — that he did not have them to distribute. On the 19th of April they were taken from his agent in Baltimore to be used against the common enemy. While the cauldron of popular passion was thus seething in Maryland, Lincoln's proclamation, calling for 75,000 men, came out, Virginia seceded, Harper's Ferry was taken, and, be it known, in the capture were assistants from the neighboring counties in Maryland. The fires on the Potomac lighted all that mountain country, and Catoctin then was as ready to offer her sons as she had done of yore. On the 19th of April a Massachusetts regiment passing through Baltimore was set upon by unarmed citizens and hunted in ignominious rout from the city, the miserable cravens allowing themselves to be stoned through the streets. The attack was unpremeditated, and made by unarmed men and boys. Had there been any concert of action, or any preparation, neither man nor officer would have lived to tell the tale. But the shots fired then by the enemy rang through the State. Everywhere old and young — Whig, Democrat, Know-Nothing, Union men — sprang to arms and commenced pouring towards Baltimore. Early Saturday morning Captain Bradley T. Johnson brought in a company of minute men from Frederick. Then Captain Nicholas seized Pikesville Arsenal with his company; Captain Bond, of Anne  Arundle, took possession of the Annapolis Junction; Captain Gaither, of Howard, brought out his fine troop; Captain Nicholas Snowden patrolled the road from Annapolis to Washington and captured Lincoln's bearer of dispatches, whom he sent by an officer to Hicks, who immediately released him. Everywhere through the counties the young men armed and organized. Then Hicks convened the Legislature to meet at Frederick “because the State Capitol would not be safe,” and in public meeting in Monument Square “called God to witness that he hoped his right arm might drop from its socket if he ever raised it against Virginia and the South.” The Legislature met, ripe for action, but the same temporizing policy that had paralyzed preparations in the State before, now prevented action in that body. Three-fourths were ready to act — to appoint a Committee of Public Safety, to organize a State Guard, to appropriate $5,000,000 to arm and defend the State, and to form an alliance with Virginia. But a small body of influential, honorable, and sincere members were opposed to hasty action. They dallied and delayed and lost a week. A week in war, never to be recovered. A week in Revolution — a century in the tranquil current of civil affairs. They sent commissioners to Washington to parley with Lincoln. He parleyed — but Scott pushed his troops through by way of Annapolis, while at Chambersburg and Harrisburg, on our Northern frontier, he massed other columns. His cavalry marched acrossed from Carlisle to Georgetown. A week's delay and all was lost in Maryland by way of an appeal to arms--40,000 men in Washington and Annapolis to control Baltimore and the lower counties — and heavy masses in border. Pennsylvania to be precipitated on Frederick, Washington and Carroll, when necessary, these effectually crushed out hopes of organized resistance there. From that day to this, Maryland has never been without a garrison equal to 30,000 to 40,000 men. When the disastrous delay of Virginia and the Middle States, and the want of preparation of our own people, had reduced us to this condition-many persons thought they had but one alternative with honor. This was, temporarily leaving home and friends, to carry the flag of Maryland with the Southern army, and then rallying around it such Maryland men as could be collected together, to form a body which should try to represent the ancestral honor of that old Line which before them, in another Revolution, had illustrated the fame of the State. Such a Maryland organization would form the nucleus of future  effort, for the redemption of home, would be a common centre of communication with Maryland--would keep alive the sympathies of the South towards our cause — and would be, in the varying fortunes of war, the connecting link between Maryland and the South. It would be the sole remaining representative of the chivalry, the high-toned honor, the freedom of the “land of the Sanctuary,” and friends and relations, and well-wishers at home would point to it with pride, as their representative. By these persons, with such motives, was formed the
First Maryland regiment.As soon as the Legislature assembled in Frederick, the Hon. James M. Mason came there, authorized as commissioner from Virginia to enter into any compact which it might be willing to make with that Commonwealth. When it became apparent that the time for action was lost, Captain Bradley T. Johnson, who resided in that city, procured from him authority to raise troops for the Southern army, and immediately proceeded to Harper's Ferry, where he obtained Colonel Jackson's permission, who was then in command there, to rendezvous and ration his men at the Point of Rocks, the most available point for that section of Maryland. On the 8th of May, 1861, Captain Johnson marched his company out of Frederick, and proceeded to Virginia, opposite the Point of Rocks, where he reported to Captain Turner Ashby, then in command at that post. On the 9th he was joinnd by Captain C. C. Edelin, with a company which had marched from Baltimore. The same day Captain Price arrived at Harper's Ferry, also from Baltimore; and in the course of a few days Captain Wilson C. Nicholas, of Baltimore county--Captain James R. Herbert, who had been Captain of the Independent Greys, Baltimore city. Captain Holbroke and Captain Wellmore also reached Harper's Ferry. Captain McCoy first came to the Point of Rocks but soon went to Harper's Ferry. On, or about the 18th May, the companies organized themselves into a battalion, numbering four hundred and fifty men, of eight companies, as follows: Company A, Captain Johnson; Company B, Captain Edelin; Company C, Captain Price; Company D, Captain Herbert; Company E, Captain McCoy; Company F, Captain Holbrooke; Company G, Captain Nicholas: Company H, Captain Wellmore. And placed Captain Johnson in temporary command, he having been first in Virginia.  On the 21st May, Lieutenant-Colonel George Deas, Confederate States Army, mustered Companies A and B into service at the Point of Rocks, and the next day mustered in the other six companies into the service of the Confederate States. As soon as the battalion was mustered in, Mrs. Bradley T. Johnson, under escort of Captain Nicholas, and Second-Lieutenant Shearer, Company A, started for North Carolina to endeavor to procure arms and equipments for it. Proceeding to Leesburg, it was found impossible to go farther, as the enemy had that day taken possession of Alexandria. Returning, she then went by way of Winchester and Strasburg to Richmond and Raleigh. She at once made an appeal to Governor Ellis, as representing her native State, who, after five minutes explanation, gave her rifles and accoutrements for five hundred men. Not satisfied with this, the convention of North Carolina, then in session, contributed a large sum of money, which was further increased by citizens of Raleigh and Petersburg. Bringing with her the arms from North Carolina, in Richmond she called on Governor Letcher, who promptly furnished her with camp equipage, clothing, shoes, nine hundred uniforms, and other necessaries. With the money placed in her hands, she purchased tents, and returned to Harper's Ferry, where she had the proud satisfaction of equipping and arming nearly five hundred men, after an absence of fourteen days. How those arms were used, and what service they did, remains to be seen in the course of this narrative. But while this organization was taking place at Harper's Ferry, other companies were forming in Richmond. Lieutenant E. R. Dorsey, adjutant of the Baltimore City Guard, had formed a company which was mustered into service on the 17th May. Captain William H. Murray, of the Maryland Guard, was mustered in on the 17th, and Captain W. S. Robertson on the 15th June. Captain Lyle J. Clark also had a fine company, which eventually became part of the Twenty-first Virginia. After the battalion was thus armed, Colonel Jackson ordered Captain Johnson to proceed with it to the Maryland Heights and there support Lieutenant-Colonel Duncan, who was there with the First Kentucky. Owing to a change in the command, by General Joseph E. Johnston having relieved Colonel Jackson, this order was but partially executed, only company A, and parts of companies C, E, and F marched to the Heights. General Johnston, upon taking command, placed the battalion in charge of Captain George H. Steuart, a Maryland officer of the United States cavalry, who had distinguished himself in the frontier war; for whom General Johnston had a high appreciation, which  was abundantly justified by the subsequent history of the regiment. On the 15th June the whole battalion having been collected, it started on its first march on the evacuation of Harper's Ferry. The weather was intensely hot, and the roads dusty, but the men, though suffering themselves, were too much amused at the straggling marching of the other troops to mind it. They camped that night near Charlestown and the next near Bunker Hill. On the 17th June news flew through the ranks that Patterson had crossed the Potomac and was approaching to give battle. This was the first flurry of war to the volunteers. Fences were levelled; troops massed or deployed; batteries held together to be put in position; cavalry galloped to and fro, and all the usual preliminaries to battle gone through with. But it was an unfounded anticipation. Patterson hearing of our approach precipitately retreated and recrossed the river, while Johnston marched leisurely towards Winchester. The first blood of this second revolution was shed by Maryland men on the 19th of April, and the battalion hoped to take part in a second battle of the 17th June at Bunker Hill. When the army arrived near Winchester it was brigaded and the battalion placed in the Third brigade, Brigadier-General Bernard E. Bee. While here the condition of the men and officers was most deplorable. They had all come from home without a change of clothes — a months campaign about Harper's Ferry and the march had destroyed their shoes and their apparel. The new uniforms and clothing procured by Mrs. Johnson, in Richmond, had not yet arrived and they were as ragged and tattered as Falstaff's crew. Notwithstanding this they were selected by General Johnston to return to Harper's Ferry and finish the destruction of some buildings left there. On the 16th June the First Maryland regiment was organized by adding Captain Dorsey's and Captain Murray's companies to the battalion, and the appointment of Arnold Elzey, a gallant and able officer of United States artillery, Colonel; George H. Steuart, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Bradley T. Johnson, Major. At the time of the above order from General Johnston, Colonel Elzey and the two companies from Richmond, had not arrived. The battalion consequently marched from Winchester under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Steuart. Near Harper's Ferry he divided it, entering the place on one side with four companies, while Major Johnson, with the remaining four, entered the other, after saving 70,000 seasoned gun stocks, and sending them off by the cars. The rifle factory, and other United States property, was fired and burnt on the return of the command to Winchester.  General Johnston complimented it in the following order:
On the 24th of June, Colonel Elzey having arrived, was placed in command of the Fourth brigade, consisting of his own regiment, First Maryland, Thirteenth Virginia, Colonel A. P. Hill; Tenth Virginia, Colonel Gibbons; Third Tennessee, Colonel Vaughan, and the Newtown battery, temporary in charge of Lieutenant Beckham, a young West Point officer of ability. The regiment left Camp Bee, on the Martinsburg road, and joined the brigade at Camp Johnston, on the Romney road, on the outskirts of Winchester. Here, during the last days of June, a further reorganization of the regiment took place; W. W. Goldsborough, a private in Captain Dorsey's company, and an excellent soldier, was elected Captain of Company A, vice Major Johnson promoted and Lieutenant J. Louis Smith, Company G, who had distinguished himself during the Harper's Ferry expedition, was made Captain. Company F, Captain Holbrook taking the place of First Lieutenant of Companies C and H, Captains Price and Wellmore, not having the legal quota, were distributed among the other companies, which were then filled up to an average strength of about eighty. The regiment thus organized was composed of Company A, Captain W. W. Goldsborough: First Lieutenant, G. K. Shellman; Second Lieutenants, Charles W. Blair and G. M. E. Shearer. Company B, Captain C. C. Edelin: First Lieutenant, James Mullen; Second Lieutenant, Thomas Costello. Company C, Captain E. R. Dorsey: First Lieutenant, S. H. Stewart; Second Lieutenants, R. C. Smith and William Thomas. Company D, Captain James R. Herbert: First Lieutenant, G. W. Booth; Second Lieutenants, W. Key Howard and Nicholas Snowden. Company E, Captain H. McCoy: First Lieutenant, E. W. O'Brien; Second Lieutenants, Jos. G. W. Marriott and John  Cushing. Company F, Captain J. Louis Smith: First Lieutenant, Thomas Holbrook; Second Lieutenants, Jos. Stewart and W. J. Broad-foot. Company G, Captain Wilson C. Nicholas: First Lieutenant, Alexander Cross; Second Lieutenant, E. P. Deppish. Company H, Captain William H. Murray: First Lieutenant, George Thomas; Second Lieutenants, F. X. Ward and R. Gilmor. On the 1st of July the army marched for Martinsburg to meet Patterson. On the 2d it reached Darksville, seven miles from that place, where it remained the 3d, 4th and 5th in order of battle, waiting the approach of the enemy, but Patterson was content with the capture of Martinsburg and declined the challenge, and on the 6th the forces again returned to Winchester, where they remained until the 18th.
Special order.Commanding-General thanks Lieutenant-Colonel Steuart and the Maryland regiment for the faithful and exact manner in which they carried out his orders of the 19th instant, at Harper's Ferry. He is glad to learn that, owing to their discipline, no private property was injured, and no unoffending citizens disturbed. The soldierly qualities of the Maryland regiment will not be forgotten in the days of action. By order of General Johnson.Wm. H. Whiting, Insp't Gen'l.