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The First Maryland Cavalry, C. S. A.

The First Maryland Cavalry, C. S. A.


In the March, 1877, number of the Southern Historical Society Papers, page 136, Mr. Lamar Holliday, quite unintentionally, I am satisfied, fails to do full justice to the First Maryland Cavalry, C. S. A. The impression conveyed by his article is that the First Maryland Cavalry was not in the Confederate service until its organization as a battalion, in November, 1862. A fuller history of this command will, I am sure, interest those who survive. The facts I give are from my own knowledge and from my diary, kept during the first two years of the war.

Before 1861 there were organized in Howard county, Maryland, two cavalry companies of from 75 to 100 men each. They were composed of the choicest material of the county. In one company there were seventeen members of the Dorsey family; in the other company, eleven members of the same family. The first company organized was named the Howard County Dragoons, commanded by Captain Geo. R. Gaither. Both companies were handsomely uniformed according to United States army regulations, well mounted, and furnished by Governor Hicks with the best cavalry sabres and Colt's revolvers. When the indignation of the citizens of Baltimore burst forth at the appearance, on the 19th of April, 1861, of a Massachusetts regiment marching through her streets to make war on the South, the Howard County Dragoons immediately assembled at Ellicott's Mills, and on the next day marched into the city and placed themselves under the command of General G. H. Steuart. This action, and the subsequent treachery of Governor Hicks, made it necessary, when quiet was seemingly restored, either to disband the company or to march it South of the Potomac. Early in May a large portion of the Dragoons, mounted and equipped, crossed at Point of Rocks and rendezvoused at Leesburg under Captain Gaither. Here the writer joined them May 30, 1861. At that time an effort was made to organize "the Maryland Line."

This proposed organization failing, "the Maryland Cavalry," as the company was called, marched on the 15th of June to Winchester, and on the 17th united with the cavalry regiment under Colo-