A lively discussion about Maryland’s state stong bounced around the historical blogosphere a few weeks ago. I think Kevin Levin initiated the discussion, and then Richard G. Williams weighed in here and here.
At the time, I only knew a few snippets of “Maryland, My Maryland,” although I was aware that it was originally a Confederate hymn of defiance. So when I read the new book on Guilford Courthouse that I discussed in my last post, I was surprised to learn that the lyrics refer to the American Revolution. Check out the third verse:
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
As Lawrence Babits and Joshua Howard note, “Howard’s warlike thrust” is a reference to John Eager Howard, an accomplished officer in one of Maryland’s Continental regiments.¹ Charles Carroll was, of course, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and later U.S. Senator from Maryland. The song offers a neat illustration of how secessionists invoked the legacy of the Revolution.
Babits and Howard also note another interesting example of commemoration: “Portions of [Howard's] plantation became downtown Baltimore, where streets are named after his battles at Monmouth, Camden, Eutaw Springs, and Guilford Courthouse.”² In fact, Howard donated some land for the city’s Washington Monument in what’s now the Mount Vernon neighborhood. I suppose, then, that his estate (which he called “Belvidere”) was located in this area, so it’s fitting that his statue is there today:
It’s nice to see that Marylanders remembered their Revolutionary War “slumberers with the just,” both in song and in geography.
(Howard statue photo from Wikimedia Commons)
¹Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard, Long, Obstinate, and Bloody: The Battle of Guilford Courthouse (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 203.