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[154]

The first Maryland cavalry.

Mr. Hoke's articles are as temperate as possible from one whose house was burned by an enemy, and as, he thinks, without justification. It is true he calls us ‘villains’ occasionally, and says we seemed accustomed to the business from the expert way in which we proceeded to the task. I will not quarrel with him for this, but I think it proper to take a look at these villains to see who they were then and what they are now. I was a young man not yet arrived at maturity. I had just left college when I joined the Confederate army. When I marched for Chambersburg, I belonged to the First Maryland Cavalry. This regiment was composed of the very first young men of our State. If they were not guided by the strongest instincts of principle in going into the Southern army and staying there they are certainly a very peculiar set of young men, for there was anything but pleasure in our lives.

We were generally hungry, slept often, winter and summer, in the open air on the ground, got no pay that we could buy anything with, were scantily clad and were apt to be killed, sooner or later in battle. I believe the unbiased man must say this was patriotism, although he can, if he wishes, reconcile his conscience by calling it ‘misguided patriotism.’ And you may be surprised to know that these young ‘villains’ have generally developed into good citizens and successful men. Go where you will through our State, and you will find them respected and at the head of the communities in which they live. In business I can name you a dozen of the leading houses in this city whose members were with Johnson and McCausland, when your city was burned. The bar throughout the State is full of them; and they are, in many cases, among the leaders of their circuits. They are doctors in good standing in their profession; and many of the most thrifty farmers in this State, whose fine farms attest devotion to duty and to home, especially in such counties as Howard and Montgomery, were also present on that occasion.

In addition to our regiment there were five or six others in the brigade, most of them from Southwest Virginia and the Valley of Virginia. The men who composed these regiments [155] were the substantial citizens of their respective counties, and would compare favorably with the like number of men selected from any agricultural community in our country.


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