Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tempest in a teapot...

There has been some chatter on the blogosphere (mainly the Civil War ones) and newspaper websites about the bill to change the lyrics of the Maryland State Anthem, "Maryland, My Maryland."

The 1861 lyrics were, as noted in the article, written by an out of towner and reflect the passion of a moment in time rather than the history of the Free State.

I also would like to point out how much of a flop it was out in Western Maryland. In 1862 the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia invaded Maryland under the mistaken assumption that the population would rise up in solidarity and kick out the garrison troops. To help enhance the mood of the population, Lee had his bands play this song as they marched across the Potomac, some regiments even sung they lyrics.

Of particular note is the last stanza:

I hear the distant thunder-hum,
Maryland, My Maryland!
The Old Line's bugle, fife, and drum,
Maryland, My Maryland!
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!

Basically it was cheer-leading for Maryland to join the Confederacy. While there was support among the eastern side of the state for this, the western side (aka where I grew up) wanted no part of that. The recruits didn't come and the population, while not violently opposed to the presence of the Confederate Army, did not greet them as liberators. This chilly reception was noted in several diaries and letters from the soldiers.

So, given that half of the state didn't care for the song, and as noted in the article, many of the legislators (let alone average citizens) don't know the words...

I say good for the 4th Graders, let's change the lyrics and move on.


Kim said...

I don't care either way, but they really should leave the "Huzza" in there.

Nick said...

I also like the "Huzza."

AP said...

Let's not forget:

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,

The Despot being Abraham Lincoln.


“Sic semper” tis the proud refrain,

Which while not referring to Booth's infamous utterance (rather to the state motto of Virginia) is still pretty horrible given the context. On second thought, the fact that this is *still* the state motto of Virginia is what's pretty horrible...

Nick said...

Yes. Also, the "patriotic gore" that flecked the streets of Baltimore was the blood from the Pratt Street Riot.

A riot brought about by a bunch of hoodlums with paving stones who went after a contingent of armed troops just trying to get through town.

What were they expecting?

Mannie Gentile said...


Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'd hate to have to be the middle school teacher leading a room full of seventh grade boys in that last stanza, if you get my drift,


Nick said...

Yep. I'll take double-entendres for 100 please Alex.