Maryland, my Maryland, wherefore art thou, my Maryland?

Posted on January 9, 2011 by

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Earlier this week, I posted a quick comment on my Facebook page about Maryland’s War of 1812 license plates.

It’s everywhere, it’s everywhere! Yet, Maryland’s silence about the Sesquicentennial is excruciatingly painful. No blogs, no tweets, nothing…

I’m not saying that the War of 1812 is unimportant… because it IS important. What bothers me is the amount of attention that seems imminent in Maryland for the Bicentennial of the War of 1812… and yet the silence when it comes to the Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War.

Sure, there are entities within the state that are preparing events for the Sesquicentennial… but sans support from the state. I know, I know… the state made it clear that, while they would have money for the anniversary of the War of 1812, there was going to be no money for the anniversary of the American Civil War.

Why? Anyone care to take a “swag”? Was it economics… or something else?

Personally, I, along with some others, think it may pivot on the state’s desire not to deal with what may seem to be a divisive topic in the state. After all, there IS more than one story to tell regarding the loyalties of Marylanders in the war… and frankly, the Unionist story can be complicated, especially when it comes to their support of Union while still embracing slavery. The topic of slavery is a hot button alone, but a very interesting one when we consider how Maryland freed her slaves without being directly directed to do so by the Emancipation Proclamation.

I’m left scratching my head… if nearby Virginia can deal with similar complicated issues, why can’t Maryland? And, how might we benefit from knowing more about Maryland’s story in the war?

For me, the story of the division within the state is about family. No, I didn’t hear stories about this growing up. In fact, I only realized the complicated story in the last 15 years… when I realized that my ancestry reached back into Maryland’s story.

If you will indulge me just a bit in relating some family tree information… going back to some of my earliest Maryland connections…

My seventh great grandfather, James “110” Moore (family stories state that he was so self-labeled to distinguish himself from others with the same name… when he believed himself to be 110 years old… and still kicking and signing documents) was a Scot, and came to Maryland sometime in the latter 1600s, but not exactly a clean migration… He may have been captured (at least that’s the way it seems, based on a few tidbits found in research) at the Battle of Dunbar, in 1650, and after surviving both the death march to England that followed, and his years of indenture, in Barbados… only then did he make his way to eastern Maryland, settling in what is now Prince George’s County, Maryland.

I wonder how he envisioned the future of the Maryland that he came to know as home…

James had at least eight children, and some of them embarked (after James “110” had secured a number of acres, in different land-holdings) in the career over generations, as tobacco planters… meaning that slave ownership came into play. For several generations, Moore descendants continued to grow tobacco in Prince George’s County. My fifth and sixth great grandfathers signed the Oath of Fidelity in the American Revolution, and provided tobacco to the cause.

I wonder how they envisioned the future of Maryland AND the formerly colonies, now united. Incidentally, I’m also curious to know if they shared thoughts on this with a neighbor, across the river… with whom they apparently had social ties… George Washington (an interesting story that I will need to share sometime).

By the late 1700s, the family began to part company, many leaving the tobacco plantations of eastern Maryland. One brother, Thomas, moved to Laurens County, Georgia. Another brother, my fourth great grandfather, James Draden Moore, moved to western Maryland, eventually settling in Clear Spring. Others headed for places like Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky, while at least one, Warren Francis Belt Moore, remained in Prince Georges County, only to move to neighboring St. Mary’s County a decade or two prior to the Civil War.

I wonder if and when the break in opinions began to develop in the brothers, in regard to their vision of the future for the United States. In particular, however, I wonder how the children of Warren F.B. Moore and James Draden Moore began to change in their views as Marylanders… envisioning a different  future for Maryland and its relationship to the the United States.

As Marylanders, surely they had a “sense of place”… a particular appreciation for the state in which they lived, and the history of their family in relation to the past of that place; and yet, it appears they had two differing visions regarding Maryland’s future…

I think I’ve sufficiently covered my closest Moore kin in the western part of the state (see a little =>here, about James Draden Moore and his connection with slavery in the western part of the state, =>here, about Joseph S. Moore and the manumission of a slave… and the brief mention of his involvement in the Constitutional Unionist party in western Maryland, and => here about the service of James Draper Moore in Cole’s (Union) Cavalry)… ultimately, my Unionist Moores. On the other hand, in eastern Maryland…

Moore's Hotel. Image from the 1880s.

… at least one of Warren Francis Belt Moore’s children, James W. Jackson Moore (who had resettled in St. Mary’s County in years before the war), was clearly Confederate in sympathies. James owned “Moore’s Hotel”, in Leonardtown, which was a “well-known” gathering place from which to “smuggle” men from southern Maryland to Virginia, for service in the Confederate army. In fact, some of the future senior officers of the 1st Maryland Cavalry (Confederate) are said to have stayed here briefly, before making their crossing into Virginia. Additionally, two of James’ sons served in the Confederate army. I’ve only been able to confirm one… Warren Francis Moore (1844-1863… and named for his grandfather), who served in Co. B, 2nd Maryland Infantry. Warren was killed in a senseless (and that’s pretty much the way it was described by several Maryland officers who partook in the assault) on Culp’s Hill, near Gettysburg.

"Band of Brothers" by Don Troiani shows the 2nd Maryland in the assault I mention. While I know of no images of Warren Moore, I can only imagine him as one of those falling in this scene. My copy of the print hangs in my dining room.

So, all from the same family… sons and grandsons of brothers who grew-up together… had two visions of what Maryland should be, and where it should be, in… or out… of the Union.

Excepting the variation in opinions… as they say, “are we so different, you and I?”

Does Maryland not present us with a snapshot of how the distance began to grow (and perhaps “why”) between sections and people, and yet the ability of the people, even within those sections, to have differing opinions among themselves (Southerners in support of Union, for example)?

So, again, I ask, “Maryland, my Maryland, wherefore art thou”… in remembering your unique stories about slavery and the war, as well as your divided sons and daughters in the crisis that was… 150 years ago?

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