For 145 years, the question of whether Maryland was a Northern State or a southern State has been debated. The people of Maryland made many contributions to the Southern Cause. The Mason-Dixon Line, the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland, was surveyed 1763-1767. What is south of the Mason-Dixon line is considered the South. Maryland falls below the line; therefore, it is in the South.
The first blood of the War was spilled on April 19, 1861, as Southern sympathizers attacked the 6th Massachusetts troops and 26th and 27th Pennsylvania Militia at President Street Station in Baltimore. Seventeen civilians were killed and many more wounded in this attack on foreign troops on Southern soil.
After hearing of the Baltimore massacre, James Ryder Randall, a Baltimorean teaching in Louisiana, was inspired to write the words for what would become the official state song, “Maryland, My Maryland,” to call Maryland to secede from the Union. Two verses that show Southern sympathies are as follows:
The Despot’s heel is on thy shore, his torch is at
Thy temple door, avenge the patriotic gore that
Flecked the streets of Baltimore, and be the battle-queen of yore.
I hear the distant thunder hum, the old line’s
Bugle fife and drum. She is not dead, nor deaf
Nor dumb. Huzzah! She spurns the Northern
scum. She breathes, she burns, she’ll come,
she’ll come! Maryland, My Maryland!
Baltimore sisters Hetty and Jennie Cary, along with their cousin Constance, were chosed to make the first battle flags carried in action by Southern forces in the summer of 1861. Hetty presented hers to Gen. Joseph E. Johnston; Jennie’s to Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and Constance’s to Gen. Earl Van Dorn. Jennie adapted James Ryder Randall’s words to the tune “Tannenbaum.” General Beauregard invited the Carys to visit the army in camp near Manassas. After dining in the general’s tent, they were serenaded by the Washington Artillery band. To close the program, Jennie sang “Maryland, My Maryland.” It was the first time the troops had heard the song. As Hetty later wrote, “There was not a dry eye in the tent.”
Abraham Lincoln sent Federal troops into Maryland to prevent secession. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus, in direct violation of the Constitution of the United States, the Charter of Freedom he swore to uphold when he was inaugurated. Maryland State legislators who supported secession were thrown into prison at Fort McHenry in September, 1861, without being charged, before the vote could be taken.
The bottony cross, the red and white portion of the modern Maryland State flag, was on the uniforms and kepis of Maryland soldiers to distinguish them from other soldiers. Until the War, the Maryland flag consisted of the yellow and black colors of the Calvert family. The red and white bottony cross was adopted by those who sympathized with the South. Following Lincoln’s election in 1861, red and white “secession colors” appeared on various items of clothing. People displaying these red-and-white symbols of resistance to the Union and to Lincoln’s policies were vigorously prosecuted by Federal authorities. The red and white bottony cross was incorporated into the Maryland State flag as early as 1880. In 1904, the Maryland General Assembly officially adopted the current design as the state flag. In 1945, a gold bottony cross was made the official ornament for a flagstaff carrying the Maryland flag.
General Robert E. Lee had two uniforms which sported Maryland buttons. One was made by ladies in Baltimore and the other by ladies in Frederick and Carroll Counties.
Maryland sent at least 22,000 of her sons to fight for the Confederacy. The actual number is not known; as many more fought under assumed names for fear that their property would be confiscated. Many more Marylanders crossed the river and fought in Virginia regiments.
Baltimore City has no less than twelve Confederate monuments located throughout the city. Three books have been published and are worthy of attention: The Civil War in Maryland by Daniel Carroll Toomey, Maryland: The South’s First Casualty by Bart Rhett Talbert, and A Southern Star for Maryland: Maryland and the Secession Crisis by Lawrence M. Denton.