History


The 1st Maryland Regiment (April 1861 - August 1862)

Many Marylanders chose to volunteer for Confederate service after the Pratt Street Riot of April 1861. These men were usually angered by the declaration of martial law in the State of Maryland, the arrest of several elected State officials, and garrisons of Federal troops established throughout the State. Two primary groups, one in Richmond and the other in Harper's Ferry, formed the nucleus of the 1st Maryland Regiment. The four companies formed in Richmond were originally known as Weston's Battalion. One of those four, Clarke's company, was detached from the Battalion and reassigned to the 21st Va. as Co. B. The remaining three companies were united with six companies formed in Harper's Ferry to form the 1st Maryland Regiment.

Bradley T. Johnson

Bradley T. Johnson

Once formed, the job of training and arming the men began. The Richmond companies were already well dressed in Kent Paine & Co. uniforms and armed with smoothbore Springfield muskets, most likely 1842 Springfields. By comparison, the Harper's Ferry companies were more poorly dressed and armed, some with defective carbines, and thus came to be nicknamed the "Plug Uglies" by the other Marylanders. Fortunately, through her connections in North Carolina, Mrs. Claudia Johnson, wife of Major Bradley T. Johnson, was able to secure cloth for new uniforms, as well as tents, camp tools, 500 Mississippi Rifles, and 10,000 rounds of ammunition. Prior to the battle of 1st Manassas the Regiment was armed and well dressed. The uniforms of the Harper's Ferry men are believed to have been very similar to those worn by the Richmond men with some minor differences.

Col. Arnold Elzey

Col. Arnold Elzey

The Regiment's first action was at 1st Manassas on July 21, 1861. The 1st Maryland served in E. K. Smith's Brigade of J. E. Johnston's Army of the Shenandoah. After a long ride by rail the Marylanders arrived in the afternoon to participate in the Confederate counter attack near Chinn Ridge. During the battle, Gen. Smith was wounded and Col. Arnold Elzey of the 1st Maryland assumed command of the Brigade. For the remainder of 1861 and the first few months of 1862, the 1st Maryland remained near Centreville, Va. They spent much of this time drilling, and soon became known as one of the best-drilled Confederate regiments.

In the spring of '62, the Regiment was sent to join Jackson's army in the Shenandoah Valley. During Jackson's famous Valley Campaign the gray-clad Marylanders saw action at Front Royal, Harrisonburg, Cross Keys, and Port Republic. The most notable actions include the defeat of the Pennsylvania Bucktails at Harrisonburg and their rout of the 1st Maryland US Volunteers at Front Royal, Va.

Later in the summer Jackson's army was ordered to assist the Army of Northern Virginia defend Richmond during McClellan's Peninsular Campaign. During the fighting of the Seven Days Battles, the 1st Maryland came under fire again at Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill. By August complications regarding enlistment terms led to confusion and dissension among the rank and file of the regiment, mostly due to different differing terms of enlistment among the various companies. Some men wanted to join other branches of services (such as the cavalry or artillery), while others wanted to reenlist as infantry. Since the Confederacy could not conscript Maryland men into service (Maryland was not a member to the CSA), and there were divisions within the regiment, the unit was disbanded.


The 1st Maryland Battalion (August 1862 - January 1864)

Upon disbandment of the 1st Maryland Regiment, five companies of veterans from the unit reenlisted in August 1862 and were called the 1st Maryland Battalion, as there were not enough companies to form a full regiment. Companies A through E spent much of the remainder of 1862 stationed in the Shenandoah Valley reorganizing. By January 1863 Companies F and G joined the battalion, which participated as part of W.E. Jones' brigade in the disappointing Moorefield Expedition.

Col. George Steuart

Col. George H. 'Maryland' Steuart

By May of 1863 the Marylanders were assigned to Steuart's Brigade, Johnson's Division of Ewell's III Corps. Their first significant action was at the 2nd Battle of Winchester. The 1st Maryland Battalion followed Lee to Gettysburg and on July 2 participated in the ill-fated attack on Culp's Hill. Around dusk the Marylanders were one of the only Confederate units to capture the first line of Federal defenses. At dawn on July 3 the Federals hit the Marylander's position with a heavy artillery barrage followed by several infantry assaults. The Federals could continuously bring in fresh troop loaded with ammunition, but the Marylanders - with little sleep, running low on ammunition, and no hope of being relieved - stubbornly held on. To their dismay, they were ordered to make an obviously hopeless assault on the next line of Federal works. With many of their officers already dead or wounded, the Maryland Battalion with the rest of Steuart's Brigade advanced. The Marylanders made it further than any other Confederate unit in the assault, but were decimated by a Federal volley at point blank range. Having no hope of success, the battalion fell back. When the Battle of Gettysburg was over the Maryland battalion had suffered 45% casualties and lost most of its senior officers. For the rest of the war, the Marylanders would be led by their junior officers.

After Gettysburg, the Maryland Battalion retreated with the Army of Northern Virginia and began to reorganize once again in the Shenandoah Valley. In August of '63 Company H was assigned to the battalion. Eventually the Marylanders found themselves with Lee's army during the Mine Run Campaign and established their winter quarters near Hanover, Va.


The 2nd Maryland Regiment (January 1864 - April 1865)

In January 1864 the 1st Maryland Battalion was officially given regimental status and designated as the 2nd Maryland Regiment. Basically, the 1st Maryland Battalion and the 2nd Maryland Regiment were the same organizations. History books often use the title 2nd Maryland Regiment to avoid confusion with the 1st Maryland Regiment. At this time the Marylanders were united with some Maryland cavalry and artillery units at Camp Maryland near Hanover to form "The Maryland Line" under the able leadership of Gen. Bradley T. Johnson.

As the spring campaign of 1864 approached, to the dismay of many of the Marylanders, the various branches of The Maryland Line were dispatched in differing directions. During the battles of theWilderness and Spotsylvania the Marylanders were guarding communication and supply lines between Richmond and the front. On June 3, while independently attached to Breckenridge's Division, the Marylanders distinguished themselves at Cold Harbor. Federal troops breached the lines defended by Col. Patton's Virginians, and the 2nd Maryland with Finnegan's Florida Brigade charged this position and recaptured the trenches. General Lee was quoted to have said, "I knew I could trust those men!"

Following Cold Harbor the loyalties of the Marylanders were put to the test at the Siege of Petersburg. During this time they were assigned to Archer's Brigade, Heth's Division, of A.P. Hill's Corps defending the area southwest of Petersburg. Casualties began to take their toll as the regiment participated at Weldon Railroad, Peebles' Farm, Squirrel Level Road, and Hatcher's Run.Many companies found themselves led by sergeants and corporals, while the unit's junior officers did their best to lead the regiment.

During the miserable winter of 1864-65 many despondent Confederate soldiers deserted from their posts and others starved in the freezing cold trenches. Sometimes entire picket lines disappeared at night. During this time the 2nd Maryland only had one man desert the ranks! As a result of the 2nd Maryland's reliability, they often found themselves in rifle pits on the picket line not only to defend from the Yankee but also to prevent further desertions from their brigade. Marylanders could be trusted where others could not.

Cpt. John W. Torsch

Cpt. John W. Torsch

On April 2, 1865 the Federals launched a massive assault on the Petersburg defenses. The 2nd Maryland, numbering just over 200 men, was split into three groups in the area of Hatcher's Run. A 32-man detachment under Lt. Tolson was pinned down and overrun. The rest of the regiment under Captain Torsch was ordered to plug a hole in the line in the vicinity of Forts Gregg and Alexander. Overwhelming enemy numbers and no sign of reinforcements convinced Captain Torsch to order a retreat, but it was too late for many. A large number of men on the right flank, including the regimental colors, never received the orders and were captured. The tattered remnants of the 2nd Maryland made it to Appomattox Court House and surrendered with the remainder of Lee's once-proud Army of Northern Virginia on April 9th 1865.


The Unique History of 2nd Maryland, Company H

Co. H joined the battalion during its reorganization in August 1863. The men who formed Co. H were originally a partisan ranger unit called "Winder Rangers," which was formed on July 27, 1863. Their leader, Capt. Christopher Columbus Callan, was unable to obtain the resources for a mounted "ranger" unit, and they were assigned to the infantry. Callan's men had been inactive for some time, and many of them had crossed the law and landed in jail. Since a majority of Callan's men were Marylanders, they were given the opportunity to join the 1st Maryland Battalion. "Winder Rangers" was officially attached to the 1st Maryland Battalion as Co. H on August 26, 1863. Since the men felt betrayed by Callan's promise to be used as cavalry only, many deserted in the fall of 1863.

Cpt. Christopher C. Callan

Cpt. Christopher C. Callan

Capt. Callan did not fit in with the other Maryland officers. Being an Irish immigrant, he was not a native Marylander. He had practiced law in Washington, DC and was not even a Maryland resident. When the war erupted, he became a strong supporter of the Confederacy and the principles of States' Rights, but by the time Co. H was formed, he had lost some faith in "the cause," and through his eyes it was becoming a "despicable tyranny." Evidently, this spurred him to look for opportunities to improve his own personal finances. In the fall of 1863 Callan was court-martialed for signing false returns and embezzling unit funds. Although acquitted of these charges, Callan deserted in January 1864 and pledged loyalty to the Union.

Lt. James Thomas Bussey

Lt. James Thomas Bussey

Lt. Thomas Bussey of Co. D was commissioned Captain of Co. H in January 1864. Bussey, with a small staff, whipped Co. H into shape. What remained of the unit did good service for the duration of the war. By Appomattox, the company could count only one man present, Pvt. John Parker.

Unit Histories and their Implications for Reenacting

Like many Civil War regiments, the 2nd Maryland Infantry did not participate in every battle of the War. For that reason, we allow our members to choose either a 1st Maryland Regiment (early war), 1st Maryland Battalion (mid-war), or 2nd Maryland Regiment (late-war) impression. This allows us to demonstrate the evolution of the Maryland Confederate soldier over four years of active warfare. It is not necessary or realistic to expect members to have a different uniform for every year of the war. The mid-war appearance offers the most versatility. We often find ourselves assigned to portray Confederate troops from other states, especially at reenactments of the battles of Cedar Creek and New Market where the Marylanders did not participate. It is fairly easy to develop the appearance of a Maryland Confederate while maintaining the flexibility to appear as other "butternut" troops to meet the specific needs of the event.


Sources

A Maryland Boy in Lee's Army by George Wilson Booth

A Soldier's Recollections by Randolph McKim

Band of Brothers by Daniel Hartzler

"Callan's Civil War" found in the Washington History, Magazine of the Historical Society of Washington DC, Fall/Winter 1992-93, Volume 4, Number 2

"Enlisted Uniforms of the Maryland Confederate Infantry: A Case Study, Part I and II," by Ross Kimmel

First and Second Maryland Infantry, CSA by Robert J. Driver, Jr.

Marylanders at Gettysburg by Daniel Carroll Toomey

Marylanders in the Confederacy by Daniel Hartzler

Maryland's Blue and Gray by Kevin Conley Ruffner

Recollections of a Maryland Confederate Soldier, 1861-1865 by McHenry Howard

The Maryland Line in the Confederate Army by W.W. Goldsborough