Southern Historical Society Papers/Volume 31/Maryland and the South

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Southern Historical Society Papers

1304816Southern Historical Society Papers: Volume 31 — Maryland and the South1903Louise Wigfall Wright

[From the Baltimore Sun, January 19, 1904.]


Some of the State's Claims Advanced for Column in Davis Monument.


Nine Generals in Her Army Were Among the State's Contributions—Notable Heroism of Some of Her Sons.

Following is the text of the address made by Mrs. D. Giraud Wright, president of the Maryland Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy, at the State convention held in Baltimore, December 7, 1903:

"As we meet together to-day for our annual convention and I gather up the threads of the work done by the Maryland Division during the past year to make my report to you, one great fact stands out like a silhouette clearly denned against the background of all the achievements of the last twelve months. Whatever we have or have not done, one thing is sure, and I speak with no uncertain tongue, but glory exceedingly in making the assertion, that the Maryland Division of the Daughters of the Confederacy has erected the most beautiful and appropriate Confederate monument in the South, and I challenge the world to produce anything superior in beauty and conception, design and execution.

"When we met together this time last year we were busy with the discussion of plans for its unveiling; to-day we look in retrospect upon the successful completion of every detail of that ceremony from inception to finish, and if any reward were needed to repay us for the labor and anxiety concurrent with the raising of the fund and the choosing of the design and site, I think we have it when, our footsteps being drawn like the needle to the pole, we pause before the consummation of our dearest hopes and view with enraptured gaze this memorial, the magnificent result of years of indomitable work. And the sweetest thought to me, and I am sure to all of us, is this, that we did it all ourselves; it was our own unaided work of love. No help from city or State did we ask or receive; even the smallest detail of expenditure, the repairing of the pavement at the base, was paid for from our fund. And now, as a final touch to its completed beauty, a railing made of pure bronze and exquisite in design has been placed around it, and all is done.

"The next thing to which I would call your attention is the recent convention of the United Daughters at Charleston, in which several matters of deep interest to our Maryland Division were discussed, and notably among them the design of the proposed 'Jefferson Davis Memorial,' which was approved by the committee and presented to the convention. It is not proper that I should speak further at present on this subject, which in due order will be reported by the chairman of the delegation of the Baltimore Chapter, who also acted as proxy for our other chapters and who so ably represented us in the convention, and who will later make her report of the proceedings. But I think it is permissible for me to say what directly bears on the subject; what my heart dictates; what justice demands, and what love impels me to say for the great old Commonwealth, which has been my home for nearly two-thirds of my life, as a tribute, however inadequate, to the glory of the State and her service to the Confederacy, as shown by the deeds of her sons and daughters by the part they bore in the war between the States.

"Maryland's position in that gigantic struggle was unique; lying between the two great conflicting powers, held in the grip of an overpowering military force, her people were helpless. In her streets was shed the first blood of the war, and the sufferings of her citizens during that awful four years of conflict can never be told in words. The best men in the State were thrown into prison; justice, as administered, was a farce; ladies and children were arrested on trivial charges and subjected to insult and terror. The days were spent by the women in agonized waiting for tidings of their loved ones who had gone to the help of the South, and the anxiety was doubled by the difficulty of obtaining news of the fathers, husbands, sons and brothers who were fighting under the crimson banner of the Confederacy.

"The dear ones left behind, while suffering anxiety worse than death and knowing all the privation and misery endured, were unable to minister to their comfort or relief, for even medicines, the anodynes which might ease the dying agony of our wounded, were declared 'contraband of war.'

"Meanwhile, in the Confederate army and navy Maryland forged to the front.

"Who was the ranking admiral of the navy of the Confederacy? Who commanded the famous Merrimac and won the victory in Hampton Roads? Franklin Buchanan, a Maryland man.

"Who floated the starry cross from sea to sea and flung to the breeze the pure folds of our stainless flag, until the name and fame of the Alabama was wafted on every wind that blew, echoing along the shores of Spain and France and England, until the old Victory, Nelson's ship, lying in safe harbor this hundred years, could she have spoken, would have dipped her colors to the daring young Confederate cruiser!

"Raphael Semmes, a Maryland man, was her commander!

"Who made the great charge at Games' Mill and sacrificed his life for the South, leading the Stonewall Brigade at Cedar Mountain? Charles Sydney Winder, of Maryland! Who, 'while helmets cleft and sabres clashing, shone and shivered fast around him,' who led his dashing battalion of horse to victory in many a bloody field? Who but our gallant 'Light Horse Harry' Gilmor, of Maryland, and peerless Ridgely Brown, slain in battle.

"Who was the brave soldier who commanded 'the Maryland Line,' and, ever foremost in the fight, captured the famous 'Bucktail' flag of the Pennsylvania regiment? It was Bradley T. Johnson, of Maryland!

"Who captured the first Federal flag of the war on the waters from the steamer St. Nicholas in Chesapeake bay? Colonel Richard Thomas Zarvona and Commodore Hollins two Maryland men.

"And who was it that Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy—he to whom this memorial is to be erected who was it he called to his side in the flush of victory at glorious first Manassas and greeted before the whole army with 'Hail, the Blucher of the day?' This was Arnold Elzey, of Maryland.

"And who shall tell of Trimble, commander of Stonewall Jackson's old division, and Steuart and Breathed, with his superb battery of horse artillery, and Herbert and Zollinger, who won laurels for themselves and their native State by distinguished service in many a hard-fought battle? And young Murray, who gave his life at Gettysburg, where the noble men of Maryland, leaping up the deadly heights of Gulp's Hill, a hundred yards ahead of their gallant comrades, planted their flag and won eternal fame and the gratitude of the South for whom the glorious deed was done. And a stone—to my mind the greatest monument on the field of Gettysburg—marks the spot! Maryland had nine generals in the Confederate army. These names and a host of others are linked forever with the glory and the sacrifice of the 'cause that was lost.'

"And when the final blow was struck on the fateful field of Appomattox, what was the action of this State and her people toward the South? Her legislature voted $200,000 for the relief of the Southern widows and orphans, and the noble women of Baltimore sent $200,000 more to swell the fund. And more, far more than even this munificent gift, Maryland opened wide her doors and bade her suffering brethren of the South come in and share her plenty. As Captain McHenry Howard, another gallant Maryland Confederate soldier, so beautifully expressed it in his oration on our 'Monument Day:' She became a veritable 'Land of the Sanctuary' to the impoverished, broken and wounded Confederate. And thousands seeking escape from the horrors of the reconstruction period found Baltimore verily a city of refuge. And having offered them a haven, the Maryland people gave them of their best. Within her borders to-day, in every sphere of life, you find represented the natives of the Southern States. In the learned professions, in law, medicine and the church; in the marts of trade; in offices of trust and honor in the city and State, no discrimination has been made, and to-day in the Confederate Soldiers' Home, supported, to her honor be it said, by an appropriation from the State, I am told more of the inmates, cared for by her liberality, are natives of the Southern States than of Maryland—unselfish, generous Maryland! Her people are an honor to our race!

"And when I pay tribute to Maryland as a State, and to her people as unexampled in liberality and sacrifice of self—when I hold up to your admiration the gallant deeds of her generals and admirals in the army and navy of the Confederate States—what shall be said of the Maryland private in the ranks? Of him who went forth at the clarion call of Potomac to Chesapeake? Of him who had everything to lose and nothing to gain! 'Old Virginia needs assistance.' That, in the words of his old camp song, that was the cry that moved him to lay down the pen and the pruning hook and the quiet arts of peace and prosperity and rally to the aid of the old Mother State whose green hillsides were bristling with the spears of the foe, whose fair fields and valleys were to be plowed and harrowed with sorrow and drenched with the red blood of her martyr sons! The men of Maryland answered her call, and like the knights of old rushed into the conflict, their battle cry on their lips: 'A rescue! A rescue! Virginia and the South!' And there, 'wherever death's brief pang was quickest and the battle's wreck lay thickest,' there old Maryland's flag was held aloft by her dauntless sons.

"And we, the wives and mothers of Maryland men, for us the proudest heritage to be handed down to our children's children is that their fathers fought as privates in the ranks of the Confederate army! That marching, footsore and weary, under the burning rays of the summer sun; or, illy clad, half frozen, shoeless and hungry, shivering through the icy winds and snows of winter, in camp and on picket duty; starving in Northern prisons in the midst of plenty; dying of disease, far away from home and friends in Northern hospitals; they gave the best four years of their beautiful young manhood, and often life itself for principle and the cause of freedom. Think of that glorious host of heroes, 20,000 of the flower of Maryland's youth and chivalry, who left home and luxury and comfort for bitter privation, prison, wounds and death—for what? In defense of the firesides of their Southern brethren and the homes of the women of the South! This was their prayer voiced by a Maryland poet:

"'Still let the light feet rove

Safe through the orange grove.
God keep the Land we love

Safe from thy wrath.'

"Can we women of the South ever forget?

"See them hastening across the dark river in little companies of twos and threes; the tears of their loved ones yet wet on their cheeks; without money and without price was their sacrifice made, and, throwing themselves into the deadly breach before the foe, they, stood the shock of the first charge and led the last rally. They shed the first blood of the war in Baltimore and were the last of Lee's heroes at Appomattox. Who is greater, the man who fights for home and country, or the friend who, for pure love of him, throws himself between him and the foe? In their own noble hearts they received the death wound, aimed at another, and 'Virginia's green fields were crimsoned with the blood of the Maryland boys!' They fought and died for principle and the South, not for themselves. In the words of the Divine Master, and very reverently I use them, 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.'

"And would you see with a clearer knowledge the vision called forth by these words of mine, go and stand by the monument which the Maryland women have erected to their soldiers and sailors of the Confederacy, and see the perfect type of young Maryland manhood—the private in the Confederate ranks—the true descendant of the Maryland cavalier. This shows what he was, and this, because the Maryland Daughters of the Confederacy have made manifest the truth in imperishable bronze, this is what will be seen and known of him in the ages to come; and as we gaze with tear-dimmed eyes on that beautiful, heroic form and watch the death agony stealing over that perfect face, can you not see Murray and Blackstone and Hoffman and Williamson, and Gill and Bowly, and Grogan and Snowden and the two McKims, and a host of other stainless heroes who laid down their precious lives as a free gift to justice and the right! The Maryland soldier in life and in death clung with unconquerable tenacity to principle; and, dying, bequeathed to his people and his State the glorious fact of his service to the Confederate States. And shall we not thank God that we were given the strength and means to make this memorial to him, and to know that as long as time shall last the grief of the women who loved him, there portrayed, shall follow him, and the glory, which the false enemy shall wrest from him, shall fold him forever to her breast, while the light of the Divine patience of his sacrifice of self shall shine ever round and about him, and more and more shall illumine our path from the dark mysteries here of pain and death to the heaven where we shall know the reason of it all! Is it a wonder, then, standing as we do, encompassed with the memories of the sufferings and glories of the past, that we should accept for Maryland no smaller recognition of heroic endurance and sacrifice for the South than that accorded to her sister States in suffering?"