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The Maryland line in the Confederate Army.

By General. B. T. Johnson.
The prevailing idea among the Marylanders, who went South to join their fortunes with those of the Confederate States, was to concentrate themselves into one body, commanded by their own officers, carrying the flag of the State, and to be called the Maryland Line.

I marched the first company across the Potomac from Frederick, the Frederick Volunteers, and by the permission and under the direction of Colonel Jackson, established myself with it at the Point of Rocks on the 9th day of May, 1861. I selected that point as most convenient for rendezvous of such men as might desire to join us.

In a few days I was joined by Captain C. C. Edelin, with another company, and other companies under Captains Herbert, Nicholas, [22] and others, were rapidly organized at Harper's Ferry. But we intelligently declined to enter the service of Virginia, and insisted upon being mustered into that of the Confederate States.

Accordingly on May 21, 1861, the two companies at the Point of Rocks were mustered into the Army of the Confederate States, by Lieutenant-Colonel George Deas, as Companies A and B, of the First Maryland regiment. Six other companies were mustered into the same service and regiment on the 22nd at Harper's Ferry. They were afterward consolidated into four companies. Other Marylanders congregated at Leesburg, and on June 6th, 1861, held a meeting, at which five counties and the City of Baltimore were represented, of which Coleman Yellott was President, and Frank A. Bond, Secretary. They formed an association, calling themselves ‘The Independent Association of the Maryland Line,’ and adopted a constitution which provided for organizing the members into companies, regiments and brigades. Nothing further ever came of this movement.

The companies of Dorsey, Murray and Robertson were, late in May and early in June, mustered into the Virginia service at Richmond, and then transferred to the First Maryland regiment, which they joined at Winchester, June 16, 1861.

As this regiment was marching into the battle of Manassas, July 21, 1861, Captain Charles Snowden presented to us a flag which had been brought through the lines by Miss Hettie Carey. It was a Maryland State color, with the arms of the State painted on blue silk on the one side, and on the other, ‘Presented by the Ladies of Baltimore to the First Regiment Maryland Line.’ The regiment carried that color through all the battles in Virginia until it was disbanded, August 12, 1862. Before then, it had carried the color presented to my Frederick company when we left home. Colonel Steuart attached the new flag to the staff with the old one, and thus the regiment went through the fight at Manassas with two flags, side by side on one lance. The regimental color was presented by the fragment of the regiment left to be disbanded to my wife, who has it now. My company flag is also in my possession.

During, the winter of 1861-62, Colonel George H. Steuart, commanding the First Maryland regiment; of which I was then Lieutenant-Colonel, exerted himself for the organization of the Maryland Line.

Our people had become scattered all through the army. We had the First regiment of infantry, Maryland Light Artillery, Captain R. Snowden Andrews, and Baltimore Light Artillery, Captain J. B. [23] Brockenbrough, as the sole Maryland representatives in the army. But besides that there were Maryland companies in the First, Sixth and Seventh Virginia cavalry, Thirteenth, Twenty-first and Forty-seventh Virginia infantry; besides a body of Marylanders enlisted in the First South Carolina artillery, and Lucas's battalion of South Carolina artillery, and our men, alone, or by twos or threes, were in very many regiments from Texas to Virginia.

The Congress of the Confederate States, in response to the efforts of Colonel Steuart mainly—for, while others assisted, his exertions were the principal cause of its action—on February 15, 1862, passed the following act:

An act to authorize and provide for the organization of the Maryland line.

Sec. 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That all native or adopted citizens of Maryland, who have heretofore volunteered, are now in or may hereafter volunteer in the service of the Confederate States, may, at their option, be organized and enrolled into companies, squadrons, battalions and regiments, and with the First Maryland regiment and several companies now in service, into one or more brigades, to be known as the Maryland Line; said organization to be in accordance with existing laws.

In consequence of, and to carry into effect this Act of Congress, the following General Order was issued:

General order no. 8.

war Department, Adjutant & Inspector General's Office, Richmond, February 26, 1862.
I. The following Act of Congress with Regulations of the Secretary of War thereupon, are published for the information of the Army.

[Here follows the above act.]

II. In accordance with the requirements of the above act, all Marylanders now in service in the military organizations, other than that of the First Maryland regiment, will, upon application, (proper evidence setting forth the fact that they are native or adopted Marylanders being furnished,) be transferred to the First Maryland regiment; or where the numbers are sufficient, may be organized into companies, squadrons, battalions, or regiments, which, with the First Maryland regiment will be formed into brigades, to be known as the Maryland Line. [24]

III. Colonel George H. Steuart, now commanding the First Maryland regiment, is assigned to this duty of organization, re-enlisting for his own regiment, and re-organizing from the material obtained by enlistments and transfers, in accordance with the foregoing law—having command of the whole.

By order of the Secretary of War,

S. Cooper, Adjutant & Inspector General.

Colonel Steuart was promoted to be Brigadier-General in the following March, and on reporting to Major-General Ewell, of Jackson's army in the Valley, was allotted the First Maryland regiment, Brown's troop of cavalry, and the Baltimore Light Artillery, which thus constituted the Maryland Line.

During the Campaign of the Valley, however, in the advance he commanded a brigade of cavalry, and it was not until after the battle of Winchester (May 26) that he assumed command of the Line, which was attached to the second brigade Jackson's division, also under Steuart's command. On June 8th, at Cross Keys, he was wounded, and the command devolved on me. I retained it, and commanded the Maryland Line, as a separate organization, during the remainder of operations in the Valley, during the Seven Days battles around Richmond, and until August 12th, when the First regiment was disbanded—its numbers having been greatly reduced.

The Second regiment was organized in the fall of 1862, and during the winter elected Lieutenant-Colonel James R. Herbert to command it. It served in the Valley under General W. E. Jones, but no attempt was made, that I am aware of, to consolidate the Maryland commands.

The army moved northward in June, 1863. I was then member of a military court in Richmond, and the Secretary of War gave me a commission on June 22, 1863, of Colonel First regiment Maryland Line, with orders to report at once to Major-General I R. Trimble, of Ewell's corps, with orders to them to put me in command of the Maryland troops serving with them. With the commission and orders, he issued to me this authority:

Sir,—You are hereby authorized to recruit from Marylanders and muster into service companies, battalions and regiments of infantry, cavalry and artillery, to serve for the war, and to be attached to and form part of the Maryland Line.

By command of the Secretary of War.


I joined the army on July 2d, but—as, in the graphic language of General Ewell, ‘This is no time for swapping horses’—I did not get my command to which I had been ordered.

I was assigned to command the Second brigade of Jackson's division.

On November 1, 1863, General Lee directed me to collect the Maryland troops and proceed to Hanover Junction, and ordered to report to me at once the Second Maryland Infantry, the First Maryland Cavalry, and the Baltimore Light Artillery. I was to have the other troops as soon as the exigencies of the service would permit.

The Maryland Line, then, was established at Hanover Junction during the winter of 1863-64, charged with the duty of watching Lee's flanks, and particularly of protecting the bridges over the South Anna, which preserved his communication with Richmond.

During the winter the Chesapeake Artillery, Captain W. Scott Chene, and the First Maryland Artillery, Captain W. F. Dement, reported to me and became part of the Maryland Line. The batteries were designated: First Maryland Artillery, formerly Maryland Light; Second Maryland Artillery, formerly Baltimore Light; Third Maryland Artillery, Captain Latrobe, serving in the Western army; Fourth Maryland Artillery, formerly Chesapeake.

It was decided by President Davis that, under the law, an election must be held for commanding officer of the whole. Accordingly, I received this letter:

Adjutant and Inspector General's office, Richmond, February 4, 1864.
Sir,—You are hereby required to cause an early election for the Colonelcy of your present command in the Maryland Line; the election to be full and complete.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

The election was held on February 6th, under the direction and supervision of Lieutenant-Colonel Ridgeley Brown, by Captains Emack, Welsh and Schwartz, of the cavalry; Captains Crane, Mc-Aleer and Gwynn, of the infantry, and Captain Griffin and Lieutenant Brown, of the artillery.

The Colonel of the First regiment Maryland Line was unanimously [26] elected to command the Line. This was the largest force of Marylanders ever collected during the war in the Confederate army. It consisted of a regiment of infantry, one of cavalry, and four batteries, all in a high state of efficiency.

On March 23, 1864, a general order was issued from the Adjutant and Inspector General's office, directing the establishment of two camps, in which Marylanders could be collected and organized. The one at Hanover Junction to be called Camp Howard, under the command of Colonel Bradley T. Johnson, with the troops then under his command, and a new rendezvous at Staunton, to be called Camp Maryland, under Major-General Arnold Elzey. This order and this effort accomplished nothing. General Elzey established himself at Staunton with his staff, and no sufficient number of men ever reported to organize a single company. At Hanover Junction I got together the troop above described.

When the army fell back to the line of the South Anna after the battle of the Wilderness, in May, 1864, I was ordered off with the cavalry to go behind Grant's army. The infantry was absorbed by Breckenridge, where it did splendid service, and was designated by General Lee in orders, ‘the gallant battalion’; and the artillery assigned to infantry or cavalry according to its equipment.

I retained the Baltimore Light (Second Maryland) with the cavalry as the Maryland Line during Early's Valley and Maryland Campaign of 1864.

The reasons why the Marylanders could not be collected into one command were as manifest to me in 1862-64 as they are now. They had no relation to the gallant soldier Steuart, who made such an effort, or splendid old Elzey, whom we all honored and loved-nor to any Maryland soldier, officer or private. I do not purpose to explain them now; I will do so in the future. I merely desire to furnish a connected narrative of historical facts concerning the Maryland Line in the Confederate army.

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