Maryland played a very interesting role in the Civil War. Following are some historical facts about my home state during this dark time in America's history.
1. Located between the Union Capital of Washington D.C., and the Confederate Capital of Richmond, VA., the state of Maryland was of key importance to both sides of the war. A border state, located on the Mason Dixon Line, she was the embodiment of the Nation's deep division.
2. Maryland was a slave state, but was invaded and overtaken by the Union. She may have seceded from the Union if 27 state legislators had not been imprisoned in Fort McHenry to prevent such a vote.
4. The first violence of the Civil War occurred in Baltimore. The Union troops of the 6th Massachusetts Regiment had to pass through the city from one train station to another. As they marched down the streets, they were attacked by Southern Sympathizers. The soldiers fought back, firing into the crowd. Forty men in the regiment were wounded, many of them seriously. Of the rioters, 11 died—among them a ship’s cabin boy who was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet. Countless others stumbled away to nurse their wounds.
5. The single bloodiest day of the war occurred in Maryland, at the Battle of Antietam, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg. More Americans died in battle on September 17, 1862, than on any other day in the nation's military history. The Union had 12,401 casualties with 2,108 dead. Confederate casualties were 10,318 with 1,546 dead. This represented 25% of the Federal force and 31% of the Confederate. Of the other casualties, 1,910 Union and 1,550 Confederate troops died of their wounds soon after the battle, while 225 Union and 306 Confederate troops listed as missing were later confirmed as dead. The fighting on September 17, 1862, therefore killed 7,650 American soldiers.
6. Brigadier General George H. Steuart was a native of Baltimore and a firm supporter of States Rights. He served thirteen years in the United States Army before resigning his commission at the start of the Civil War. He joined the Confederacy and rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Army of Northern Virginia. Nicknamed "Maryland" to avoid verbal confusion with Virginia calveryman J.E.B. Steuart. He began the war as a captain of the 1st Maryland Infantry, CSA, and was promoted to colonel after the First Battle of Manassas. His family's property, Maryland Square, or "Steuart Hall" was consfiscated and Jarvis Hospital was built on its premises. The former Steuart mansion was used as the main administration building. The grounds were used for temporary, numerous wooden barracks-type buildings constructed for the care of wounded Union soldiers.In the early 1870s, the mansion was purchased by the Sisters of Bon Secours for use as a Catholic convent. In 1872 they sold the remaining property in lots as part of a residential development known as "Chesapeake Heights." In 1884 the mansion was demolished.
7. Point Lookout POW Camp (Camp Hoffman) was established in Southern Maryland after the Battle of Gettysburg to incarcerate Confederate prisoners. It was in operation from August 1863 through June 1865. It was the largest Union prison camp for Confederates. During the two year span of operation, Point Lookout saw approx. 52,000 POWs pass through her gates.
Prison conditions were deplorable. Rations were below minimal, causing scurvy and malnutrition. Prisoners ate rats and raw fish. Although it is estimated that over 14,000 prisoners died at Pt. Lookout, at present only a near 3,384 are accounted for as buried in the Point Lookout cemetery.
Before the war, Point Lookout was a fashionable resort hotel and a summer bathing place with over a hundred cottages where the elite spent their leisure time.
8. Parole, Maryland, near Annapolis was a sort of "holding ground" for paroled Union soldiers during the war. During the civil war, to avoid being burdened with large numbers of prisoners, armies in the field would “parole” soldiers that they had captured, releasing them on their oath that they would perform no military service until formally exchanged for prisoners of war held or paroled by the other side. In the early part of the war, many paroled men would simply go home, or elsewhere, not to be found when time came for the exchange.Originally intended as a “camp of instruction,” a camp for paroled prisoners was established near Annapolis, Maryland, in the summer of 1862. It came to be known as Camp Parole.
9. President Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was a native of Maryland. He was an American state actor who assassinated President Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865. Booth was a member of the prominent 19th-century Booth theatrical family from Maryland and, by the 1860s, was a well-known actor. He was also a Confederate sympathizer, vehement in his denunciation of Lincoln, and was strongly opposed to the abolition of slavery in the United States. Booth shot Lincoln once in the back of the head, and the President died the next morning. After a twelve day manhunt, Booth was shot and killed. He is buried at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.
10. President Lincoln did not free the slaves of Maryland. The Emancipation Proclamation was authorized under the Presidents' war powers and pertained only to the states of the rebellion. The slaves in Maryland were emancipated by a new state constitution in 1864, which predated the Thirteen Amendment.
11. Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas are both famous slaves from Maryland. Harriet Tubman is well known for her participation in the Underground Railroad which escorted slaves to freedom. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the "Railroad." Frederick Douglass was born as a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore. Later, he was sent to Baltimore where he was educated by the wife of his master. In 1838, he successfully escaped slavery and went on to become a powerful voice for abolition.