Maryland in the Civil War
Maryland in its Origin, Progress, and Eventual Relations to the Confederate Movement.
Source: Confederate Military History, Volume 2
When the New World was disclosed to the Old, the belief of all civilized people was that the heathen had no rights which Christians ought to respect --that he and his country belonged of right to the strongest taker; and it became a curious article of a more curious faith that murder and robbery were efficient means for propagating the faith of Christ and magnifying the glory of God.
The Pope made short work of the whole matter, .for he divided the new world east and west by a degree of longitude and made a present of one-half to the Spaniard and the other half to the Portuguese--"Ad majoram gloriam Dei"--to the greater glory of God. This process of simple division was not satisfactory to the fair-haired, blue-eyed race that dominated the island in the North Sea.
Love of enterprise, commercial daring, politics, religious conditions--all contributed to stimulate exploration and investigation. One Englishman spent his life searching for El Dorado---the land where gold abounded; a Spaniard spent his hunting the "Fons Vitae"--the fountain of perpetual youth, the waters of which renew forever the waning forces of vitality. But while the Spaniard ransacked two continents for silver and gold, found them and ruined his posterity, the French, actuated by no nobler ideals, made settlements in North America, the main inspiration of which was the desire to possess the great fisheries on the north-eastern coast. The English, in the main, had higher aims, and wider, larger aspirations. Political conditions at home exasperated religious differences, and the only hope of liberty seemed to be to transplant the old institutions of Britain--liberty of person. security of property, freedom of thought--to the wilderness, and there secure them forever by the ancient safeguards devised by the experience, the wisdom and the courage of their ancestors--habeas corpus, trial by jury, representative self government. So, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, many gentlemen in England emigrated with their property and their servants to the forests of New England, then including the north continent from the lakes to the gulf. With them they carried the opinions of their time and generation. The possession of the heathen was lawful and laudable sport for Christian men, and they straightway put them to the sword, seized their lands, their wives and their children, and divided them and all prisoners taken in war as slaves of the conquerors. This was the universal rule among all the English except in Pennsylvania and in Maryland. In the first the influence of Penn, in the last that of the Jesuits, saved them from such crimes against humanity. But the necessities of the new society, the constant struggle with nature, the forest, the flood, the fire, all made involuntary and controlled labor exceedingly valuable, convenient, comfortable and necessary. And when to the captive Indians were added cargoes of savage, cannibal Africans, no man could deny that it was a Christian duty to civilize them and teach them to work. Therefore, involuntary servitude existed in all the English colonies from the very first, and it was not until the American revolution stirred up generalizings and theories about the rights of man, that the idea got abroad that slavery was wrong. In the New England States it had long ceased to be necessary, for population had increased and roads been constructed, so that society was able to protect itself. It was troublesome, annoying, unprofitable. Slaves of different races--Indian, white and negro--confused the social order, and it was best to get rid of them. But it was not as a moral question, but as an economical one, that it was dealt with.
So when the Constitution of the United States and the Union by, through and under it were framed, formed and organized, it was silent on the subject of slavery by name, but provided for its protection by requiring that persons held to service, escaping from one State to another, should be delivered and returned to their masters on demand. Without this provision no constitution could have been adopted and no union formed.
But the cotton-gin was invented, by which 'the cultivation of cotton became extremely profitable and slaves became valuable property. There was a great movement of capital and population to the cotton country, and the new States rapidly grew up and demanded admission into the Union. By the gradual abolition of slavery north of the Chesapeake the free States had been approaching control of the Senate of the United States, until the cotton-gin reversed the order, and it seemed as if the slave States would secure permanent control of the Union.
Then began an agitation in the North, superficially moral and religious, but really and substantially political; professedly to do away with the great crime of slavery, in fact to check and destroy the aggrandizement of the Southern power. The first clear issue between the forces was on the application of Missouri to be admitted as a State of the Union. Missouri was a slave State and her admission would destroy the equilibrium between the two systems in the Senate of the United States. So Missouri was kept out until a free State could be hitched to her and thus the balance of power preserved. This was in 1821. In divers ways the struggle between the powers exhibited itself. Congress for years had levied duties on imports, whereby Northern manufacturers were encouraged and protected. Northern manufacturers were enriched and the rest of the country taxed for their benefit. In 1831 a tariff law was passed which was resisted by South Carolina, and the issue of arms was only averted by the retreat of the Federal government, by concession and by compromise.
The king of England at the beginning of the seventeenth century claimed the proprietorship of the North American continent, which claim was disputed by the Spaniard in the South and the French in the North. New England was hemmed and bounded by New Spain, New France, and the ambition and the courage and enterprise of England were roused to the conquest of the new world. The spirit that had shattered the Grand Armada and won for commerce the freedom of the seas, was directed to new countries and new States to be founded in North America, where the institutions, the habits, the sentiment and the society of their ancestors were to be transplanted, cultivated and developed, as they had been a thousand years before from the forests of Germany to the shores of Britain. The leading nobility and gentry, sailors, soldiers, and merchants of England were aroused to this great enterprise. They formed the Virginia company and received a grant from the king of that part of North America unoccupied by French or Spaniards. The enterprise of settlement, transportation and support of colonies proved too much for the company, and its grant was taken away with its charter, and the crown resumed its rights. Then grants were made to individual proprietors. Noblemen and gentlemen about the court secured these great favors, which they hoped would be the foundation of fortune to their posterity, just as the grants of the Norman conqueror had founded great houses and families which had controlled England for six centuries. Among them was Sir George Calvert, a Yorkshire knight of moderate fortune, but of an old family, whose ancestors had filled important offices in the Low Countries under the kings of Spain, and high positions at the court of France. He, in association with Sir Francis Arundel of Wardvin (whose daughter, Lady Anne Arundel, his son Coecilius married, applied for grants of land in the new country. Both died before the grant was prepared, and Coecilius Calvert then procured to be framed a charter or grant, which was the wisest and most liberal in its terms of any issued up to that time to an English subject. The charter granted to him and his heirs forever the territory on the north of the Potomac, and extending from the Atlantic ocean to the first springs of the Potomac, and along the 40th degree of north latitude from the Delaware river to the meridian of the first fountain of the Potomac river. Together with this great grant of land and water, about 13,000 square miles, the proprietary was vested with all the powers of the Bishop of Durham, who from the earliest times had exercised absolute dominion over the palatinate of Durham and such power of martial law as was necessary in tempestuous times to preserve society and protect the border. The charter provided for self-government by the freemen; it secured them all the rights of Englishmen, and laid the solid foundation of a happy, friendly, contented society. The proprietary, in his capacity of palatine, regulated social laws and behavior. The motto of the Calverts is "Fatti Maschii, Parole Foemine"--Deeds are manly, words are womanly, or as it has always been rendered, "Courage and Chivalry." The standard of the proprietary was borne in battle by a grand standard-bearer, who was an officer of great dignity and authority. One was killed at the battle of the Severn, between the Cavaliers and Roundheads, in 1654, and his widow received a grant of land and was treated with great distinction by the proprietary.
But the controlling force of the colony was the spirit of Baltimore, who in his instructions to his governors insisted that there should be no broils about religion or politics. Every man should be secured in the right to his opinion. Free thought was guaranteed to every Marylander, and free speech as well, except so far as free speech infringed on the rights of his neighbors, when it was strictly sup. pressed. Therefore, in the very foundation of Maryland was deeply laid the idea of toleration of different opinion-among neighbors, of consideration for their feelings, and, as a logical consequence, of readiness at all times to help them, to protect them, and to assist them in all the struggles of life. There never was a more homogeneous, sentimental society than that planted on the Chesapeake. "One for all and all for one" was the animating spirit for generations.
While the northern settlements were torn and blood-drenched and fire-blasted by intolerance, when the flames of burning witches lighted New England, and the air echoed with the lash of whipped Baptists, no man was ever molested for his opinions in Maryland--while Marylanders controlled the palatinate. Several times during that stormy epoch, which cost a king his crown in England and the people their liberties, there had been struggles between the Cavalier and Roundhead parties in Maryland, in which the latter were successful as their friends and relatives in England had been. But in all that tension of feeling there was never but one issue of arms in which blood was spilled. Therefore Maryland grew and prospered without those bitter memories which in New England and in Virginia separated class from class and divided neighbor from neighbor. And whenever their neighbors on the south side of the Potomac were harassed by the savages on their borders, the Marylanders were prompt and generous in spending life, blood, and treasure in their defense. There never was an Indian war in Maryland. The policy of the palatine, so broad and generous and just, prevented quarrels with the natives, and they were always friendly with the Marylanders. There were bloody invasions from south of the great river, from the west and from the north, but no rising ever occurred of Maryland Indians. Generosity with justice was the fundamental rule of dealing with them, and this rule of right acts upon all who practice it, as well as upon those on whom it is practiced. Respect for the weak, regard for the truth, a willingness and a desire to help those who need help, become controlling principles of life, and selfishness is eradicated as much as it is possible for human nature to be changed.
Thus developed the Maryland character. Love of country and of friends, regard for truth and justice, toleration of differences of opinion, for five generations had been the directing influence of their lives. So when in 1774 news came that the people of Boston had been shot down in their streets by men in red coats, the people rose as one man. From Mills' Creek, whence Braddock had marched twenty years before to disaster and death, to St. Mary's, where free thought had been proclaimed first in all the world, the men of Maryland mustered in companies and battalions, and in two weeks the province was organized for defense. It raised money and provisions which it sent to Boston, and, inasmuch as the port of Boston was closed to trade, formed an association pledging the people of Maryland, men, women and children, never to use any imported goods until justice was done to Boston, just as ten years before it had refused to recognize the Stamp Act. When the farmers of New England met and drove the British regulars at Breed's Hill, the prompt response of Maryland was a battalion of riflemen which marched from Frederick to Boston, 550 miles, to reinforce their brethren. Maryland had no interest in this fight. She enjoyed a just and liberal government. Her people made their own laws, levied their own taxes and expended them for their own benefit, and there was no friction between them and the government. Their governor, Sir Robert Eden, was one of the most popular gentlemen in the province. But when the word went out that Boston needed assistance, every country committee, every court, every provincial assembly proclaimed with one voice, "The cause of Boston is the cause of all," and from that hour to the signature of the definite treaty of peace, Maryland never faltered in her support of the cause of her friends and neighbors. She lavished her last man and her last dollar to sustain that cause. No British soldier ever trod the soil of Maryland except during the short march from the head of Elk to Brandywine. She was never invaded, she was never molested; but she was true to her friends. There were no Tories in Maryland. A loyalist regiment was formed on the eastern shore, but its elements were so inefficient and incongruous that it was at once removed to Nova Scotia, where it perished from the memory of man and left hardly a trace behind.
Such were the men who molded, formed and developed the society which was to face the crisis and do the duty of the times of 1859-65. It is our duty to tell how they did it.
In all discussions Maryland was on the side of the Union. She had given Colonel Washington, of Virginia, to the continental army as its commander-in chief, by and through her deputy in Congress in 1775, Thomas Johnson. She had made the first move for the Union in 1785. She had supported Washington all through the war and in the subsequent struggles and differences about the articles of Confederation, the Constitution and the Union. When, therefore, a party arose in the North which inculcated hatred toward the South, Maryland abhorred the apostles of malice and ill-will and sympathized more closely with the minority and weaker party. "Fatti Maschii, Parole Foemine" was the controlling sentiment of the men whose ancestors had stood with Stirling at Long Island until they were destroyed and the American army saved; whose charge at Eutaw had saved Greene's army; whose dash at Cowpens had driven the British line; whose bayonets at Guilford had broken the solid front of the Grenadier Guards---these men all believed in standing by their friends, reckless of risk, regardless of consequences. "With my friend--right or wrong--with my friend" is the complement of the State motto, "Courage and Chivalry."
So, as it became clearer in 1858-59-60 that the aggressions and attacks of the North on Southern society were not to be confined to discussion and vituperation, but were to be directed by physical force, Maryland, though utterly and entirely opposed to secession, or disunion, as a remedy or relief, still began to prepare herself for an uncertain future. Her legislature in 1860 appropriated seventy thousand dollars to arm the militia of the State and entrusted the distribution of them to Thomas Holliday Hicks, governor, and his adjutant-general.
In 1859, the Democratic party, then struggling to rescue the State from the Know Nothings, whose governor Hicks was, selected Bradley T. Johnson as chairman of the State committee and the direction of the struggle was entrusted to his hands. In 1860 he was a delegate from Maryland to the Democratic national convention at Charleston and represented Maryland in the committee on resolutions. In that committee Maryland always voted with the Southern States. When that convention held its adjourned meeting in Baltimore, the majority of the Maryland delegation, with the chairman of its State committee, withdrew with the Southern States and united in nominating Breckinridge and Lane, and Maryland voted for Breckinridge and Lane when Virginia was divided and other Southern States failed to support the movement. After November, 1860, it became clear to the younger men that war was imminent. In high excitement and peril young men see more clearly than old men. They have more energy, more clearness of vision, more promptness, more decision. They were all ardent sympathizers with the South. The old men--the ex-governors, ex-United States senators, ex-judges--all brought the weight of their characters to bear against connecting Maryland with the secession movement. And there was a profound disapprobation all through the State, with all classes, against any attempt to dismember the Union. But two per cent of her people were in favor of disunion. Some few of the young men, ardent, impetuous, devoted to ideas, believed that disunion was the only possible relief from the constant insults and aggressions of the North, its oppression and its selfish power. They were convinced that with the political power in the hands of a section and a party, the cardinal dogma of whose faith was, "He shall take who hath the power, and he shall keep who can!" all the power of government would be directed toward the aggrandizement, the pecuniary aggrandizement, of those who wielded it, and that the minority in numbers and in wealth would become the serfs of the strongest, just as had been the case in all history. They thought that wealth would flow from the many to the few; that capital would accumulate in sections and in classes, as it had done in the dead hands of religious corporations in England before Henry VIII, and then dispersed and distributed by his revolutionary measures, and just as the feudal system all over Western Europe had built up in the middle ages concentrated power of the barons, who owned all the land, reduced the people to vassalage and produced the French Revolution and its horrors of blood and fire. They believed that Northern society, directed by the same principles, without conscience, without sense of right or justice, would evolve the same conditions with the same consequences, and that the only salvation for Southern society was absolute and entire separation under a different government; that slavery furnished the only solution of self-government based on universal suffrage, and the only organization of labor and capital which had survived, or could survive the change of social conditions in ages of development and progress. They were dis-unionists per se; but they were few and scattered and exerted no influence on the public opinion. Their enthusiasm, their earnest conviction, did impress themselves on the mass, and when the time came the fire of their ardor kindled the State from mountain to ocean.
So the time went on. State after State of the South seceded from the Union. State after State of the North organized, armed and drilled her militia. In February, 1861, the Southern party of Maryland, led by the young men, called a conference convention to meet in Baltimore to confer together and decide what the honor and the interests of Maryland required her to do in the crisis. Honor first--interest last! That conference met and was such a demonstration of physical strength, of resolute purpose and of intelligent design, that it alarmed the conservative sentiment. But in February no action could be taken. Virginia had not moved, and it was uncertain how or when she would move, for the South or against it.
The governor of Maryland, Thomas Holliday Hicks, professed to be an ardent Southern man. The young men did not believe him, put no confidence in him. The old men, Union to the core, old Whigs, conservative by education and by nature, did trust him and insisted that Maryland should do nothing without the action of her constituted authorities, her governor and her legislature. The party of action urged a call of the general assembly. The governor protested that he was then in correspondence with the governors of the border States and that they would devise and execute means to save the Union and to preserve the peace. The conference adjourned until the middle of March, by which time Lincoln would be inaugurated and the Federal government pass from the hands of the State rights Democracy to the successors of the Federal party that Jefferson and the Democracy had expelled in John Adams' time.
In Lincoln's inaugural he avowed the determination of the party in power" to retake, reoccupy and repossess the forts, arsenals, dock-yards and other property of the United States which had been seized in the Southern States by State authority." This meant war! But still the conservatives of Maryland could not understand it. They clung to their idea that talk, palaver, negotiation would weather the storm, and that the tornado could be stilled by resolving and asserting that the wind was not blowing. As soon as the conference convention reassembled on the 12th of March in Baltimore, the party of action asserted itself. Judge Chambers, ex-United States senator and ex-judge of the court of appeals, was made president, and a committee on resolutions appointed. The majority of the committee reported a set of resolutions of generalities--devotion to the Union, and opposition to disorder and disturbance of the public peace. The minority, through the chairman of the State committee, who was a member of the conference and of the committee, reported that any "attempt by the Federal government to retake, reoccupy or repossess the forts, arsenals and dock-yards now controlled by the Southern States, would be an act of war by the Federal government on the States, would operate ipsa facto as a dissolution of the Union, and would remit to each State its original sovereign right .to provide for its own safety and welfare, in any manner it decided to pursue." These resolutions would have been passed, but they met such violent opposition from the old men ( Judge Chambers declared he would leave the chair and the convention if they were passed) that their author left the conference in disgust and returned home, where he promptly organized a military company for home defense and to resist invasion by foreign troops moving from the North to attack the South. The conference sent commissioners to Richmond to learn from the convention there in session what was the prospect of Virginia's taking position. They could learn nothing, for Virginia herself did not know.
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