Maryland Confederate Infantry

  I have been recently studying the contributions that the Maryland Guard of the 53rd Maryland Militia which eventually had most of it’s troops join the Confederacy. The Maryland Guard was a Zouave unit  formed by the elite sons of Baltimore in December 1859. The Maryland Guard was a smart and well dressed unit that was well recieved by the public. McHenry Howard of Company C states..”The French Zouave was the model soldier of that period according to the American ideas and the Maryland Guard uniform was patterned on his“. While the Maryland Guard did it’s best to protect the city during the rioting caused by the  marching of the 6th Massachusetts through Baltimore, the majority of it’s members were staunch secessionists. Many of the Guard felt they would have to face the hordes of Union troops that would coming through Maryland to protect Washington DC.  With Maryland being seized by the Union Army in May of 1861 however, most of the Maryland Guard dispersed and headed South. 

I have found a couple of quotes about the Maryland Confederate Infantry that I believe shows the elan of the Maryland Guard was evident in the Maryland Infantry:

We had a large drum corps, and its quick-step march was unique in that army of 30,000 men around  Manassas that summer. It was a fine sight to see the 1st Maryland Infantry marching with that quick Zouave step by which they were distinguished. It was sturdy body of men, not as tall as the Virginia regiments usually were, but well set up, active and alert and capable of much endurance.”  Randolph McKim

After the battle of Antietam, a Federal prisoner writes of the Soldierly bearing of the Maryland Confederate Infantry:

  “On the road between Sheperdstown and Winchester we fell in with the Maryland Battalion – a meeting I have always remembered with pleasure. They were marching to the front by companies, spaced apart about 300 or 400 feet. We were an ungainly, draggled lot, about as far removed as well could be from any claim to ceremonious courtesy; yet each company, as it passed, gave us the military salute of shouldered arms. They were noticeable, at that early stage in the war, as the only organization we saw that wore the regulation Confederate gray, all the other troops having assumed a sort of revised regulation uniform of homespun butternut – a significant witness, we thought, to the efficacy of the blockade.”  David L Thompson 9th Ny Volunteers Co. G

 I would be interested in hearing from anyone with information on the Maryland Guard or if you feel I can help you regarding the Maryland Guard please leave a way I can contact you.

Published in: on July 18, 2009 at 6:48 pm  Comments (12)  

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  1. There were at least four German companies aligning with the 53rd Maryland Guard according to newspapers of the time. The Washington Guard, formed about 1845-46, with the help of the 53rd’s Baltimore Yeagers and others, is to be represented once again by re-enactors who will initially raise a color guard, we believe, under the auspices of the German Society of Maryland.

    A re-created fife & drum corps of field musicians, plus a rifle company is being contemplated, should interest also move in that direction.

    A posting to Der Wecker, on this account, will be forthcoming after the first of the year. All interested parties are encouraged to follow this thread and those at Der Wecker.

  2. Der Wecker discussion forum

  3. Thanks for your input. I would surmise that Jim Warehime has someting to do with the fife and drum corps. Jim makes some fantastic uniforms for civil war re-enactors. I personally am interested in doing a Maryland Guard impression. The Guard were four companies of the 53rd that wore natty Zouave uniforms.

  4. I don’t believe there was any Maryland designate Confederate Infantry at Sharpsburg. Could it be the quote deals with the Gettysburg Campaign?

    • Hi Mr Earle,

      Actually the 1st Maryland CSA disbanded in August of 1862. Many of the Maryland Confederate veterans realized they couldn’t go back home after taking up arms against the United States. These Maryland veterans started raising another unit which was initially called the 1st Maryland Battalion (later the name was changed to 2nd Maryland to avoid confusion). The 1st Maryland battalion grew to about 500 hundred men by October of 1862, this would have been the unit that the Union prisoners came across. Neither Maryland unit participated at the battle of Antietam. While there were plenty of Maryland Confederates present at the battle of Antietam, the only Maryland commands that fought for the Confederacy were all Artillery units. Thanks for your input.

  5. Thanx for the clarification.
    A number of years ago I was reviewing Confederate Records at the Maryland Historical Society.
    There was a UDC Roll Book that had a listing of Marylanders that served in non Maryland units.
    Listed with Co.E 1st Va. Inf.was a Private John Earle.
    I cannot find Private Earle in any of the regimental series or Service and pension records.
    As this might be my paternal 3G Grdfthr, I’m searching for confirmation.
    My question is two fold;
    1) How did John Earle end up in the UDC Roll Book?
    2) Can you suggest where I might track him down?
    Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.
    By the way this is a GREAT site!
    Skip Earle

    • Thanks for the kind words Skip, they are greatly appreciated. I guess my questions for you would be what was your ancestors full name and what part of Maryland did he hail from. I do know there are quite a few Earles on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Confederate records aren’t the greatest, especially when a soldier was born in one state and served in another. My ancestor was from Mississippi and served in the 3rd Texas Cavalry and he was hard to track down as well. Also bear in mind that Maryland wasn’t allowed to succeed due to it’s seizure by President Lincoln. So after the Confederate Armies re-organized and the Confederate Government instituted Conscription, Maryland residents couldn’t be held accountable to serve by law and were true volunteers. Since most Confederate soldiers joined units that had family members and friends I would look at the Rosters of Co E 1st Va Infantry to see if there are relations. As for the UDC Roll Book, that was a listing of known Confederates from Maryland who served in commands that weren’t from Maryland. I did locate a James T Earle from Centreville, Maryland who fought with the 1st Va Cavalry….possible relation?

  6. Family legend has it that the family was part of the Lord Baltimore group.
    Our branch of Earle’s are from Baltimore County.
    Haven’t been able to tie to James Tilghman Earle.

    The Earle in question is John A. Earle he may have “jined up” with George T.Edwards. George is one of the Baltimore County Edwards that came to Md. in the 1850’s. My paternal Great Grandmother is an Edwards. The two lines merged in the Chase/Bowley’s Quarter area.

    In terms of the UDC Roll Book, what is their source material?

    Your Servant Suh!

    • The John Earle who is listed, may have had a daughter or other family member who joined the United Daughters of the Confederacy. In order to do so that person would have to provide proof that John Earle fought for the Confederacy. Many times men that fought with the veteran would sign an affadavit or visit a Notary and make a declaration that the said veteran did fight and in what commands. I will keep looking into any books I may have that may help.

  7. Many Thanx.
    Family legend is that after April 1862, John Earle became part of the Captain Levi White spy ring and was
    a gunrunner/smuggler. This coincides with the disbandment of Co.E(Williams Rifles)1st Va.Inf.
    The spy ring operated in the Bird River,Chase,Middle Sex area.

  8. Hello,

    I have been interested in Maryland’s role in the Civil War for many years and I attended college in Baltimore, MD. About 20 years ago I bought a tunic coat from the 5th Md V.C. i have been trying to find out more about it. It’s a post war uniform – maybe 1866 or 67 period, but It isn’t like the typical post war 5th MD guard uniform you see photographs of. It looks much more like a conferderate verterans uniform. I have yet to find another coat like it in any photographs and I’ve had a hard time finding out what it is exactly. I think it is from the period just after the Civil War when the 4th, 5th & 6th Maryland guard militia units were reformed, the 5th being illegal & comprised of confederate veterans from the 2nd MD. I have some pictures of the coat and was wondering if you’ed care to take a look at them? Perhaps you can tell me what it may be or know someone who does?

    Best regards,


    • Hi John,

      I have the the later uniform from the late 1800’s as well as a period cdv of member of the 5th Regiment from that time period. Just after the war the uniform was described as an Austrian style tunic I believe. There was a book published in 1899 that is a history of the 5th Regiment. I have a copy and will see if there any pictures of the Uniform you are describing.


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