Maryland, My Maryland (Randall, 1861)


In Music of the Civil War Era, Stephen H. Cornelius tells how James Ryder Randall composed his poem “My Maryland” as a pro-Confederate response to the April 19, 1861 mob attack on union troops at Baltimore:

Maryland, My Maryland
James Ryder Randall

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 thy 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 again,
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!

[SOURCE: MD Manual Online, May 2016 ]

Baltimore sisters Jennie and Hetty Cary added an extra “My Maryland!” to each refrain, and set the poem to Lauriger Horatius, and the resulting song became a Confederate anthem.

During the war, the song appeared in numerous songsheets:

…and in various sheet music editions, as well.

Alternate Confederate versions include:


The tune also served, of course, with distinction in the Union war effort:

Septimus Winner version:

“Rebel Raid in Maryland My Maryland No. 3”:

“McClellan Caught the Rebels with their Breeches, Down in Maryland”:

“Jeff Davis, is getting tired of the war”:

While the song dates to the outbreak of the Civil War, it did not become Maryland’s state song until 1939 (Chapter 451, Acts of 1939; Code General Provisions Article, sec. 7-318).

A century and a half after its composition as a Confederate call to arms, “Maryland, My Maryland” is, apparently, still the state’s official song, but in March 2016 the state legislature voted to amend the lyrics, most notably the term “Northern scum”!  For more about Maryland’s slow shedding of Civil War baggage, see:

[“Maryland, My Maryland” @ wikipedia >>]

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