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Chapter 4: Marylanders enlist, and organize to defend Virginia and the Confederacy.

While these events were occurring at Harper's Ferry, considerable numbers of Marylanders were rendezvousing at Richmond. The enrolled men commanded by Colonel Trimble, called out by the board of police commissioners, were drilled in a more or less efficient way in Baltimore, until the meeting of the legislature at Frederick, when they were disbanded. Johnson's company, at the same time, having left Frederick and gone to the Point of Rocks, furnished the nucleus around which gathered the men thus dismissed by the police authorities. They formed the eight companies mustered into the service of the Confederate States by Lieutenant-Colonel George Deas. But the volunteer companies, the Baltimore City Guard, the Maryland Guard, the Independent Grays, were as well instructed, as well officered as any American volunteers ever are, and some of them had historical reputations to maintain, for their companies had fought at North Point. They, therefore, regarded themselves as superior to the undrilled crowd that Captain Johnson was ‘licking into shape at Harper's Ferry,’ as they put it, and proceeded to Richmond, where they at once put themselves in accord with the Virginia authorities. Marylanders were to be embodied into three regiments, armed and mustered into the service of Virginia, who was to adopt them. In carrying out this plan Governor Letcher issued commissions to Francis Q. Thomas, ex-captain United States army, as colonel of the First; to Bradley T. Johnson as lieutenant-colonel of the Second, and to Alden [43] Weston, major of the Third. It was in the plan to consolidate these three into one if they failed to fill up into full regiments. Captain Johnson promptly declined the commission sent him by Governor Letcher, refusing to enter the military service of Virginia on the distinct ground that Maryland must be represented by Maryland regiments, and for Marylanders to accept service under Virginia would be to sacrifice the rights of the State to the services of her own sons. It was their duty, he believed, to give their own State the benefit of their service and of such reputation as they might be fortunate enough to win. Following this line of duty, he had caused the eight Harper's Ferry companies to be mustered into the army of the Confederate States, and he urged by every means in his power the consolidation of all Marylanders into the Maryland Line. This proved to be utterly impracticable. They were all volunteers; away from home there was no State sentiment, no home opinion to direct or control their conduct, and they selected their associates and comrades from contiguity, from friendship and from relationship. Men of Maryland descent were scattered all over the Confederacy, and thousands of young men who got through the lines sought out their relations and kinsmen in nearly every regiment of the army. The Maryland Line was the ideal of Lieut.-Col. George H. Steuart and of Maj. Bradley T. Johnson, and for two years they labored to collect the Marylanders. All influences from home were directed to the same end. The flag, made in Baltimore and brought over by Hetty Carey, was inscribed ‘First Regiment Maryland Line.’ But not until 1863 was any considerable force embodied under that name.

In the early summer of 1861 the way to Virginia was open and thousands of ardent youth left home and friends to fight for the South. In a few months, however, Maryland was hermetically sealed. Her bays were patrolled by gun boats, her rivers were picketed, and a [44] barrier of bayonets sought to keep back the current of sympathy that day and night flowed to the South. All over the State, the women, irrepressible as ever in times of excitement, flaunted the Confederate red and white in the faces of the army of occupation. The babies wore red and white socks, the girls red and white ribbons—with red and white bouquets at their girdles and on their hearts, the young lads red and white cravats. The larger boys were sent South by their mothers, sisters and sweethearts. Regular lines of communication were established, with stations and passwords and signs for the ‘underground,’ as it was called. They made their way by steamer down to the Patuxent—on to the eastern shore. They bought, ‘borrowed’ or ‘captured’ small boats, sail or with oars, and they put out in the darkness over the waters to find the way to Dixie. The gun boats searched bay and inlet with their strong lights and their small boats. Sometimes they caught the emigres and more frequently they did not. When they did the Old Capitol and Point Lookout military prisons were the swift doom of the unfortunates, where they languished for months, half clad and nearly starved. This blockade running went on over the Potomac from the Chesapeake to the District of Columbia, right under the surveillance of the Federal authorities. When the watch became too vigilant and the pickets too close along the rivers, the Marylanders made their way up through the western part of the State, where the sentiment was generally Union, and forded the river from Hancock up to the mountains. Working through the mountains of West Virginia, through the perils of the bushwhackers and Union men, ten thousand times worse than from Union pickets, they made their way, ragged, barefoot, starving, down to some camp in the valley of Virginia, where they were welcomed with warm hearts and open hands. During all that time the condition of the Southern people of Maryland was like that of the Cavaliers during the Puritan domination in [45] England. They were tied to home by a thousand imperative duties, but their hearts were ‘over the water with Charlie.’ Every Southern family had a son over there. Every Southern woman, young or old, had her heart there with lover or brother or son. There were few husbands, for the enlisted Marylanders were generally youths unmarried. The field officers, Elzey, Steuart and Johnson, were the only married officers of the First Maryland regiment.

Social life in Baltimore was almost obliterated. Spies, male and female, of all social ranks, permeated everything. You could not tell whether the servant behind your chair at dinner, or the lady by your side, whom you had taken to the table, were not in the employ of the Federal provost-marshal. But force never compels ideas, and hearts are beyond the power of bayonets. During all that period, when nurses were arrested because the babies in their arms wore red and white socks, when young ladies were marched to the guard-house because they crossed the street rather than pass under the Union flag suspended over it as sign and proof of domination—during all that red time communication with Richmond was incessant and reliable. Word would be passed by a nod on the street, by a motion of the hand, and time and place given in a breath. And in one of the parlors of one of the greatest houses of the town, blazing with every luxury that wealth and culture could buy, one or two score beautiful women would meet, doors and windows sealed, to see the messenger and to hear the news ‘from Dixie.’ Every story of a Maryland boy who had died in battle for the right, every exploit of a Marylander that had thrilled the army, every achievement of the First Regiment of the Line, was recited and repeated and gone over, until human nature could stand no more, and ‘In Dixie's land I'll take my stand, and live and die for Dixie’ would burst from the throng and make indistinct vibrations on the outer air. At [46] one of these mystic meetings of the faithful at the Winns house, on Monument street, the messenger produced James R. Randall's grand war song—‘My Maryland.’ It was read aloud and reread until sobs and inarticulate moans choked utterance. Hetty Carey was then in the prime of her first youth, with a perfect figure, exquisite complexion, the hair that Titian loved to paint, a brilliant intellect, grace personified, and a disposition the most charming—she was the most beautiful woman of the day and perhaps the most beautiful that Maryland has ever produced. Her sister, Jenny Carey, was next to her in everything, but Hetty Carey had no peer. While this little coterie of beautiful women were throbbing over Randall's heroic lines, Hetty Carey said: ‘That must be sung. Jenny, get an air for it!’ and Jenny at the piano struck the chorus of the college song, ‘Gaudeamus igitur,’ and the great war anthem, ‘Maryland, My Maryland,’ was born into the world. It went through the city like fire in the dry grass. The boys beat it on their toy drums, the children shrilled it at their play, and for a week all the power of the provost-marshal and the garrison and the detectives could not still the refrain—

The despot's heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,

for it was in the hearts of the people and it was true!

The rendezvous of the drilled volunteers produced three crack companies under Capt. E. R. Dorsey, Baltimore City Guards; Capt. Wm. H. Murray, Maryland Guards, and Capt. J. Lyle Clarke, Independent Grays. And soon after was organized another company under Capt. Michael Stone Robertson, of Charles county, whose company came from the counties of St. Mary's, Calvert and Charles. These Richmond companies were mustered into the service of Virginia, May 17th and 18th and June 17th. Captain Clarke elected to take his company [47] into the Twenty-first Virginia regiment. It served its year with great eclat and was the crack company of that part of the army. The other three were united to the battalion at Harper's Ferry. Virginia troops had by that time been taken en masse into the army of the Confederacy. That battalion was reorganized into six companies, so as to equalize them above the minimum required by the law of the Confederacy, and thus the First Maryland regiment was formed, with Capt. Arnold Elzey, late United States artillery, as colonel; Capt. George H. Steuart, late United States cavalry, as lieutenant-colonel, and Bradley T. Johnson as major. It consisted of 500 men armed with Mrs. Johnson's rifles, calibre 54, and 220 men (the three Richmond companies) with Springfield muskets and bayonets. The drill and style of the Richmond companies set the standard for the rest, and during their whole service there never was anything but the most devoted comradeship and the most generous feeling. The only rivalry was ‘Who shall get there first!’

Soon afterward Capt. R. Snowden Andrews mustered into Confederate service his battery, which during the next four years won undying fame on a hundred fields as the First Maryland artillery. Next came the Baltimore light artillery, known later as the Second Maryland, Capt. John B. Brockenbrough. The Latrobe artillery, Third Maryland, Capt. Henry B. Latrobe; and the Chesapeake, Fourth Maryland, Capt. William Brown, were organized and mustered into the service early in 1862 and served with distinction, the Third Maryland in the army of the Southwest with Johnston and Kirby Smith, and the Fourth Maryland in the army of Northern Virginia. Capt. George R. Gaither brought to Virginia a part of the Howard Dragoons, a troop of which he had been captain in Howard county, with horses, arms and accoutrements, and mustered them into the First Virginia cavalry, Col. J. E. B. Stuart. as [48] Company K of that élite corps. A troop of cavalry composed of Marylanders was mustered into the Sixth Virginia under Capt. J. Sturgis Davis. Subsequently five troops of Marylanders were collected under Davis and were known as the Davis Battalion, of which he was commissioned major. Capt. Elijah V. White, of Montgomery county, organized a dashing troop of Marylanders as escort and headquarters guard for General Ewell, which was afterwards enlarged into the Thirty-fifth Virginia battalion, commanded by Lieut.-Col. ‘Lije’ White. It was a Maryland command. Harry Gilmor in the valley of Virginia in 1863-64 collected a number of Marylanders into troops and formed a battalion known as the Second Maryland, or Gilmor's battalion, of which he was commissioned lieutenantcol-onel. He and they operated in the valley of Virginia and rivaled Mosby by their daring exploits behind the enemy's lines and against his supply trains; and in the lower valley, operating against and breaking the Baltimore & Ohio railroad, occupied and kept employed a large body of the enemy's infantry and cavalry from Harper's Ferry to the Ohio river. In December, 1860, South Carolina had sent a recruiting officer to Baltimore, and he enlisted there and sent to Charleston five hundred men who were placed in the Lucas battalion of artillery and Rhett's First South Carolina artillery. They served with fidelity, gallantry and distinction in the defense of Fort Sumter, for a large part of the garrison of that fortress during its bombardment were Marylanders.

During the autumn of 1862 seven troops of Marylanders were collected under Lieut.-Col. Ridgely Brown, from Montgomery county, as the First Maryland cavalry. When the First regiment was mustered out of service August 12, 1862, on account of its depleted ranks, which had been worn threadbare by Jackson's Valley campaign and the Seven Days battles, the men who were mustered out were largely collected by Captains Herbert, [49] Murray and Goldsborough, who formed three new companies, which with others formed the Second Maryland infantry battalion, of which Herbert became lieutenant-colonel commanding, and Goldsborough major. The Second Maryland was officered by trained and experienced soldiers. Almost every one of its captains had seen more than one year's service in the army of northern Virginia, and its field officers had been among the brightest captains in the ‘Old First,’ as the First regiment was always designated in the hearts and words of its old members. The Second Maryland infantry and the First Maryland cavalry were in the valley of Virginia about Harrisonburg in the winter of 1862 and 1863. Co. F of the cavalry was recruited by three rich young Baltimoreans—Augustus F. Schwartz, captain; C. Irving Ditty, first lieutenant, and Fielder C. Slinghoff, second lieutenant. They furnished uniforms, horses, accoutrements and arms for their company at an immense expense, for everything except horses had to be smuggled through the blockade from Baltimore.

In January, 1862, Elzey and the field officers of the First having been promoted at First Manassas, July 21, 1861, Colonel Steuart, while on leave at Richmond, procured an order to be issued by the adjutant-general of the Confederate States, that all Marylanders on application to the adjutant-general would be transferred to the Maryland Line, then consisting of the First regiment, in the army of the Potomac under Joe Johnston at Manassas. This measure resulted in no practical, good result. The Marylanders were generally quick, bright, valuable young fellows, and commanding officers were not willing to part with them. Many were taken on the staff, commissioned and non-commissioned, at division, brigade and regimental headquarters, and when one did apply in writing for a transfer, his paper was pigeon-holed and lost on its way up to the adjutant-general. The order added very few men to the Maryland Line.

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