A Maryland Confederate Mother

I found this amusing incident in “Recollections of a Maryland Confederate Soldier under Johnston, Jackson and Lee” by McHenry Howard.  When McHenry Howard finally arrived home to Baltimore on May 27th 1865 he found a note waiting for him:

“To Mr. McHenry Howard,

  You are hereby notified that you have been this day enrolled by us in the Militia Forces of the United States, in the State of Maryland, under the Act of Congress of July, 1862, in the Third Enrollment  District of Baltimore County corresponding to  the 3rd Election District of said County, and will hold yourself in readiness for any such Military duty as under the Laws and Constitution of the United States may be required of you.”

                                                                                                                                                                                         R.S Williamson  

                                                                                                                                                                                        John S Stitcher

                                                                                                                                                               Enrolling Officers   

                                                                                                                                                                               September the —1862

McHenry found out the story behind the letter. Two men arrived at the Howard house and after talking with a servant insisted on seeing Mrs. Howard. Elizabeth Key Howard was the daughter of Francis Scott Key of the Star Spangled Banner fame as well as the niece of the Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney. Mrs. Howard met the men at the door and they said ” Madam,we are the enrolling officers and we have come to get the names of the male members of your family – Have you a husband or  sons  capable of bearing arms? Mrs.  Howard said ” Yes a husband and six sons.”  “Your husband, what is his name and where is he?”   “Charles Howard  (Charles Howard was the son of John Eager Howard, the hero at the Battle of the Cowpens in the Revolutionary War), he is a prisoner at  Fort Warren ”    “And your eldest son?”  “Frank Key Howard,  he is also in prison with his father.”  “And your next son?”  ” John Eager Howard, he is a Captain in the Confederate Army.”  “And the next?”  “Charles Howard, he is a Major in the Confederate Army.”  “And the next?”  James Howard, he is a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Confederate Army.”  “And the next?”  “Edward Lloyd Howard, he is a surgeon in the Confederate Army.”  During this time the men were becoming flustered and finally said “And your youngest son?”  “McHenry Howard, he is also in the Southern Army and with Stonewall Jackson and I expect  he  will be here soon”  (This was during the Maryland Invasion by Lee and Jackson)  Mrs. Howard proceeds to shut the  door in their faces   and the enrolling officers retired to the sidewalk and wrote the above mentioned note, slid it under the door and left.

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 6:48 am  Leave a Comment  

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)  

Private Louis J. Watkins 1st Maryland Cavalry Co.A C.S.A.

I recently had the chance to look over the wartime diary of Louis Watkins, a trooper in Company A of the 1st Maryland Cavalry. This diary is held by the University of Maryland Library. Watkins was a resident of Clarksville, Maryland in Howard County when the war broke out. While Watkins enlisted September 15th, 1862, this diary mostly covers events in the fall of 1864.  Below are several entries in Watkins diary:


A passage written by his brother as it appears in the diary:

In the danger of battle(,) in discease (sp) + all sickness my prayers are for thee. Although we may differ in opinion never for one moment shall the brotherly love I bear for thee change.

remember me  W. B. W……….


A passage dated September 16th shows the anger of the 1st Maryland Cavalry as there is an attempt to consolidate them with Harry Gilmor’s 2nd Maryland Cavalry:

Great excitement prevailed in the 1st MD cav today caused by General Lomax sending a petition to the Hon. Scty of War and approved by Lt General Early for the consolidation of the 1st MD cav with Gilmore’s (sp) battalion of cav with the following officers

Maj Hearry (sp) Gilmore for Colonel,  Capt G.(ustavus) W.(arfield) Dorsey of Co. K for Lt Col  and Capt George M(alcom) Emack of Co B 1st MD for MJR

The 1st MD commanded now by Capt William I Rasin (of Co E) entered a solomon (sp) protest against the consolidation + forward it to his excellancy President Davis. The 1st MD cav has gained for itself an enviable reputation under the skillfull leadership of the late gallant + lamented Lt Col Ridgely Brown and does not wish that name to sullied by connection with the disreputable band commanded by MJR Hearry Gilmore (sp)


And lastly a passage dated October 12th shows how the common soldier endured suffering:

Cav moved over the Massanuton (sp) cupp (?) to Luray thence to Milford. Our command was ordered back to Luray about one oclock at night. We mounted and moved in that direction. The night was bitter cold and the soldiers were poorly clad. No overcoats. We suffert (sp) very much. A great many of the command pulled to the woods built a fire and spent the night.

Published in: on July 13, 2009 at 11:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Edward Rich 1st Maryland Cavalry Co. E

I guess the thing I enjoy most reading about the civil war are the human interest stories. We tend to forget  that most of the soldiers were very young men. Trooper Edward Rich relates this funny story of trickery that happened in his camp:


“Never forget the first meeting with Harry Quinn. Harry walked up to me and said Say Pard, can’t you give an old soldier a pipe full of tobacco? His pipe was an ordinary one, so I reached for my pouch and pulled it out. With a sly twinkle of of his eye, Harry quietly put away his pipe and drew out another with a huge bowl which would hold a quarter of a pound. After emptying my pouch of it’s contents which only half filled his pipe he asked….is that all you got?  Well not quite said I, but that’s all you get!


Edward Rich was from Reistertown, Maryland and would later become an Episcopal Minister.  Rich would write about his civil war experiences and his book was first published in Easton, MD and was called Comrades. Later reprinted by the Neale Publishing company the book was re-titled Comrades Four.

Published in: on July 5, 2009 at 4:04 pm  Comments (2)  

The escape of William Independence Rasin from Capitol Prison

Captain William I. Rasin of the 1st Maryland Cavalry Co. E    July 4th, 1841-June 18th 1916. Born  near Still Pond Maryland in Kent County, Rasin was the youngest son of McCall Medford Rasin and Margaret Ann Boyer Rasin.  Rasin lived in Maryland until the death of his father in 1848 and then Rasin and his older brother McCall were sent to live with their uncle Unit Rasin in St. Louis, MO.  William attended school in St. Louis and then moved to Leavenworth, Kansas in 1858 to begin a business career. 

 When war broke out in 1861, Rasin volunteered to serve with Sterling Price  in the State Guard however his unit is not known. After the battle of Lexington September 13th-20th, Rasin decided to head back to Maryland.  Arriving in Maryland he finds out his native state is under martial law. While visiting the Price family at Stoneton near Unionville in Kent County, Maryland, Rasin is arrested February 12th, 1862 by  detectives. From there Rasin was taken in a closed carriage to Elkton, MD and then on to Washington D.C. to be tried as a spy. Convicted by Military Courts as a spy, Rasin who is being held in  Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. is sentenced to be taken to Ft. Warren in Boston, MA for the duration of the war.

While in  Capitol Prison, Rasin’s roomates were Captain Harry Steuart and Rudolph Jenkins and Judson J Jarboe of St. Mary’s County, Maryland. Rasin, Watkins and Steuart became fast friends and were determined to find an escape route.  The three became aware of a rope made from an old manila doormat by a political prisoner (Mansfield Walworth) who was now in solitary confinement.  Using a table knife fashioned into a saw, the three prisoners took turns and in two weeks had sawed through the heavy wooden bars.  After about a month of waiting for the right time to try their escape, they decided on a dark stormy night to make their attempt. Drawing cards to see who would go out the window  first, Rasin drew the high card and the first attempt. After securing the rope, Rasin swung himself out the window and started down the rope hand over hand. The rope suddenly broke and Rasin fell with a loud thud. Fearing they had been exposed and Rasin was dead or injured, Steuart and Watkins pulled the remaining rope up and burned it to destroy the evidence.  However Rasin fell feet first and landed on a wooden cellar door. The loud wind from the storm carried the sound away from the guards. Rasin proceeded to walk towards the guards who were flirting with a young lady. Gathering all his courage, Rasin walked by the guards and gave a salute. Thinking he was an officer they returned the salute.  Rasin hid out in Washington D.C. for three days while the Union Army scoured the city and countryside looking for him.

William Rasin eventually headed to Salisbury, North Carolina to procure enough horses to outfit  his future command. He would be elected Captain of Co. E of the 1st Maryland Cavalry.

Published in: on July 4, 2009 at 7:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Confederate Senior Grade and Flag Ranked Officers

Maryland contributed 17 officers to the Confederate cause and six did not survive the war. Below is a list of the famous(and some not so famous)Marylanders who went South:

Brig. General James Jay Archer

Brig. General Joseph Lancaster Brent

Maj. General Arnold Elzey (Jones)

Brig. General Bradley Tyler Johnson

Brig. General Lewis Henry Little

Brig. General Mansfield Lovell

Brig. General William Whann Mackall

Brig. General George Hume (Maryland) Steuart jr.

Brig. General Allen E Thomas

Brig General Lloyd Tilghman sr

Maj. General Issac Ridgeway Trimble

Brig. General Robert Charles Tyler

Brig. General Charles Sydney Winder

Brig. General John Henry Winder

Admiral Franklin Buchanan

Admiral Raphael Semmes

Commodore George Nicholas Hollins


My goal in the coming weeks is to prepare a small bio on these gallant men as well as lesser known Maryland Confederates. My thanks goes out to Mark Peters, my friend from across the pond who has been asking me to start blogging away again. Thanks for the encouragement Mark and the A-1 steak sauce will be sent when you and Yan need it!

Published in: on June 13, 2009 at 2:52 am  Comments (2)  

What’s the Maryland Line?

The Maryland Line was the name used by the Maryland Continental Troops in the American Revolution. The Maryland troops were often referred to as the “Old Line” by General Washington and he regarded them as some of his finest soldiers. They valiantly on many battlefields, especially at Long Island, Camden, The Cowpens and Guilford Courthouse. During the Civil War, many of the Maryland Confederates were the descendents of these heroic freedom fighters. One of these men was the Maryland Confederate officer Bradley T. Johnson who lobbied to unite all the Maryland Men under one banner. This was finally authorized on June 22nd, 1863 by Secretary of War James A. Sedden.

                                                     Confederate States of
America, War Department

                                                                        Adjutant and Inspector-General’s Office

Richmond, Virginia, June 22, 1863

Colonel Bradley T. Johnson : 

    Sir :-  You are 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 James A. Sedden, Secretary of War.

                                                                Samuel W. Melton, Major and A. A. G.




Unit’s that composed the Maryland Line were as follows:

  •   2nd Maryland Infantry (Ist Maryland Battalion)
  •   1st Maryland Cavalry Battalion
  •   2nd Maryland Cavalry ( Gilmor preferred to act as a Partisan and resisted joing the Maryland Line
  •  1st Maryland Artillery (Dement’s Battery)
  •  2nd Maryland Artillery ( Baltimore Light Artillery)
  •  3rd Maryland Artillery never joined and served along the Mississippi River
  •  4th Maryland Artillery (Chesapeake Battery)

Maryland Confederate soldiers were noted for their “natty attire”, they generally wore Kepi’s  (even late in the war), were alway’s well drilled and fought hard. Bradley Johnson and his small band of men were   praised by Wade Hampton for his work in harrassing Kilpatrick and Dahlgren in their Richmond raid.  After his command was destroyed at Moorefield in 1864,  Early’s cavalry unit’s were consolidated and Johnson lost his command. He finished out the war in North Carolina as commandant of the prison in Salisbury, North Carolina.


Published in: on December 8, 2006 at 9:02 pm  Comments (20)  

The Lighter Side of the War

One of the things that has always interested me in the civil war is the Human interest stories. I discovered the story that follows, years ago while reading “Comrades Four” by Edward R. Rich.  Rich and his friends, who served with the 1st Maryland Cavalry CSA, were  resting quietly when friend Harry Quinn speaks up and says “Say boys, let’s go get some watermelons; there’s a fine lot about a mile down the road, and near the fence too”.  So Rich, Quinn and three others slip away into the night to try their luck at procuring some watermelons.  It was extremely dark and after a little bit of trouble they finally located the patch. Climbing over the old fence, they could see the Farmer’s house lights burning brightly about 60 yards away. Groping around in the Darkness, they tried to find the biggest and fatest watermelons. All off a sudden Harry fell forward into some old brush which cracked like a gun going off.  The farmer hearing the noise threw up his window and shouted “get out of there” and fired twice at the thieves. Luckily no one was hurt except for a couple of melons. The men dropped to the ground and remained quiet till the window closed. Jumping back up and resuming the search for the perfect watermelon, Rich’s buddies were satisfied at their selection and headed back to camp. Rich however wanted to find the largest watermelon in the patch. Finding the largest fattest melon, Rich threw it on his shoulders and rushed to catch up with his compatriots. Rich’s arm still weak from a wound made carrying this prize of war feel like it weighed 1000 pounds. Ater struggling to carry the large melon about a mile they finally reached camp and woke up the other boys to share in their booty. Walking over to the fire to divide and carve the watermelons in the light, Rich was mortified to discover that the “largest”  and “finest” watermelon in the World was actually a Pumpkin. Needless to say, everyone had a good laugh at Rich’s expense.

Published in: on November 30, 2006 at 3:05 pm  Comments (2)  

Richard Bennett Carmichael

Richard Bennett Carmichael was born 12-25-1807 in Centreville, Maryland to a distinguished family. Carmichael attend Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for a couple of years before finishing up at Princeton in 1828. After studying law he was admitted to the bar in 1830. At the beginning of the Civil War, Carmichael a leading Democrat in the state and suspected of being a southern supporter, was a circuit court judge. Carmichael had gained the interest of the local Provost Marshal by defending area citizens who had been arrested without cause on the suspicion that they were Loyal to the Confederacy and investigating the military for interference in the 1861 election.   On May 28th, 1862 the Provost Marshal surrounded the Talbot County courthouse with about 125 soldiers and stormed into the court room. The Provost Marshal told Carmichael he was under arrest by authority of the United States. When Carmichael resisted, he was dragged from the Bench and pistol whipped into submission. Carmichael was then transported to Ft. McHenry. He was later transferred to Ft Layfayette and then finally to Ft Delaware. Held for over 6 months, Carmichael repeatedly asked that charges against him be made public.  He was finally released without any charges.

Published in: on November 9, 2006 at 3:45 am  Comments (23)