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150 Years Ago: Friday, April 26, 1861

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Union militia volunteers are still camping on the Capitol grounds; more troops are expected to arrive within the upcoming weeks. Today President Lincoln and others attend an official dress drill of the 7th NY Regiment, held in front of the Capitol building. Julia Taft Bayne, daughter of an attorney in the Patent Office, observes that the city “had taken on the appearance of an armed fort. About the entrance and between the pillars were barricades of iron plates, intended for the dome, held in place by barrels of sand and cement. All the statuary in the rotunda had been boxed and the pictures covered by rough boards, while the halls within were full of soldiers, drilling.” As Julia watched her hometown transform in these early days of war, she would soon find herself becoming well acquainted with Willie and Thomas “Tad” Lincoln, the President’s two youngest sons and eventually developing a friendship with the President and his wife Mary.

A request is sent to Secretary of War Cameron for additional arms and also police for the White House. Currently only six men are on hand, which is officially deemed insufficient considering the circumstances. 
Secretary of State Seward writes to his friend and Republican political strategist Thurlow Weed in New York. “We pray night and day for troops,” he laments. He expresses concern that New York will not support the Union effort; their communication with the state government is mostly met with silence. Seward asks for Weed’s opinion on how he can “reconcile” any issues of concern with the Governor of New York, especially since he is not entirely sure what issues need to be addressed in order to get them to comply with the President’s proclamation for troops. Fourteen regiments had been requested, and the only one to arrive in Washington City was the 7th NY, with no knowledge of others that may be in existence. With Weed presently in New York, Seward looks to his old friend for help.
In the April 26 issue of the “Farmer’s Cabinet” in New Hampshire, Confederate President Davis’s proclamation from April 17 is printed in full. He requests the help of privateers to help attack Northern ships, yet at the same time demands a high standard; he does not want to be associated with lawless parties. The North takes great interest in reading his proclamation in its entirety.
James Ryder Randall, who was raised in Baltimore and currently working as an English and Classics professor at Poydras College in Louisiana, had learned days earlier that a friend of his was killed in the Baltimore Riots by the 6th Massachusetts on April 19th. The 22-year-old picks up his pen and writes a moving poem to rally his home state of Maryland to the Southern cause. “Maryland, My Maryland” is published for the first time today in a New Orleans paper. Eventually the poem will be turned into song, and decades after the war it will be declared Maryland’s official state song. The poem is below.

“Maryland, My Maryland”
The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Hark to an exiled son’s appeal,
My mother State! to thee I kneel,
For life and death, for woe and weal,
Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
And gird they beauteous limbs with steel,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust,
Thy beaming sword shall never rust,
Remember Carroll’s sacred trust,
Remember Howard’s warlike thrust,-
And all thy slumberers with the just,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! ’tis the red dawn of the day,
Come with thy panoplied array,
With Ringgold’s spirit for the fray,
With Watson’s blood at Monterey,
With fearless Lowe and dashing May,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,
Come! for thy dalliance does thee wrong,
Come to thine own anointed throng,
Stalking with Liberty along,
And chaunt thy dauntless slogan song,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear Mother! burst the tyrant’s chain,
Virginia should not call in vain,
She meets her sisters on the plain-
“Sic semper!” ’tis the proud refrain
That baffles minions back amain,
Arise in majesty again,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek,
For thou wast ever bravely meek,
But lo! there surges forth a shriek,
From hill to hill, from creek to creek-
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the Vandal toll,
Thou wilt not crook to his control,
Better the fire upon thee roll, Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
Maryland! My Maryland!

I hear the distant thunder-hum,
The Old Line’s bugle, fife, and drum,
She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb-
Huzza! she spurns the Northern scum!
She breathes! she burns! she’ll come! she’ll come!
Maryland! My Maryland!


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Daily Civil War Calendar

April 2011

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