A Maryland Boy in Lee's Army

This book was originally published under the title, "Personal Reminiscences of a Maryland Soldier."

With the greatest regard for truthfulness, I can say that never for one moment did the question of slavery or the perpetuation of that institution enter into the decision of my course. When the first blow was struck at Sumter, and men were forced to take sides in the approaching conflict, that which impelled to decision was the love of freedom, and the constitution of my country, as I understood it, as opposed to the vindictiveness of the northern politician and his hatred of our southern brethren, as evidenced in the disregard of public faith and the coercive measures which were being set on foot to bring them under the rod.

As a member of the military force of the State, I promptly responded to the call to arms, to maintain the public peace, and to prevent the passage of northern troops through its territory, and when the efforts of our authorities became futile, and their functions were usurped by the federal government; when it became apparent, without question, that the hope of State action was impracticable, by reason of this military occupation, then, without hesitation, I chose to cast my fortune with the south and to bear a part in the great struggle.

My first experience under fire was on Pratt street, Baltimore, April 19th, 1861, on the occasion of the passage of the 6th Massachusetts regiment. The fall of Sumter was immediately followed by the call of Mr. Lincoln for troops, and the States of the north hastened forward their quotas to Washington.

The public mind in Baltimore was in a state of intense excitement, and it only required a little friction to cause an explosion. Several bodies of troops had passed through the city, when, on the morning of April 19th, there arrived at Baltimore the above-named regiment. Transfer between the Philadelphia and the Washington depots was made in those days by hauling the cars along Pratt street by horsepower. A number of these cars, filled with soldiers, went through without any other notice except the jeering of the people, but finally the passions of the crowd led to more pronounced action, and when, just before noon, moved by curiosity and interest in what was transpiring, I reached the corner of Gay and Pratt streets, the explosion had occurred. The people, who appeared to be without organization or leadership, had barricaded the tracks by emptying thereon loads of sand from passing carts, and by dragging some old anchors and chains from a ship chandlery establishment on the corner. A car had reached the obstructed point, and, not being able to pass, the horses were attached to the rear and the car was being returned to the Philadelphia depot. During this movement the soldiers in the car were subjected to the most violent abuse, and occasionally stones were hurled into the doors and windows. The portion of the regiment thus cut off was then formed in the street, and the march for Camden Station commenced.

Manassas was our "baptism of fire." On arrival at the Junction, about noon, on this eventful day, we were hurried towards the field, the booming of the cannon and the rattle of the musketry in the distance giving us notice of the stern work that was going on at the front. The heat was intense and the dust almost suffocating, and the march was most rapid, at times in a double quick. Gen. E. Kirby Smith assumed command of the brigade as we left the cars, and rode at the head of the column, which was made up of the 1st Maryland, the 10th Virginia and the 3d Tennessee, the remaining regiment, the 13th Virginia, Col. A. P. Hill, not having arrived when we started on our march. As we approached the field all the circumstantial attendants of battle were in evidence - the wounded were being brought out, the skulkers were in force with their tales of carnage and woe - "the day had gone against us," everybody was "cut up," and we were about to offer ourselves additional victims to the Moloch of destruction. Truly the rear of an army in battle is a point of great disadvantage to form a correct idea of the great deeds or gallant heroism of the men at the front, and to untried troops such as we were the experience was most trying and dispiriting. Yet no halt was made until a sharp volley of musketry into the head of our column announced we had reached the scene of conflict. Under this fire, poured into us as we were marching in column, General Smith fell from his horse, badly wounded, and a number of our men were similarly disabled. Then came a halt for a moment, and the order was passed down the line to "lie down." This to my untutored mind was so repugnant to the preconceived ideas of a soldier's behavior in battle, that, while I passed the order to the men I remained standing, looking around to see from whence came the destroying messengers.

A Maryland Boy in Lee's Army
by George W. Booth
184 pgs.
Hardback - $35.00 Paperback - $25.00
CD-ROM - $15.00 (includes roster of the Maryland 1st Artillery)
Combo - $35.00
Ebook - $9.49

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