Marylanders Battle over Honoring Vets

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Crawley

After the Civil War, residents of the border state of Maryland had a difficult time making peace with each other. Loyalties were divided - families, friends, neighbors had been pitted against one another. The division among Marylanders would in many cases be lifelong. This lack of reconciliation is reflected in the war monuments the veterans of the Union and Confederate soldiers erected.

Confederate veterans of Maryland began the slow process, by placing the first monument in Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore in 1870. Loudon Park Cemetery was intended to be for Union soldiers, but those who had supported the South started burying their sons in a more prominent part of the cemetery later known as Confederate Hill as early as 1862. It was here that the Confederate monument was placed, much to the chagrin of Maryland Union veterans who considered this cemetery theirs.

The second proposed Confederate monument turned into payback time for Union veterans. At the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, the Second Maryland Infantry (CSA) and the First Maryland Infantry (USA) were locked in struggle on Culp's Hill. In 1885, Confederate veterans proposed that a memorial to the Second Maryland be placed on Culp's Hill. The Monument Commission at Gettysburg, controlled by Union veterans, agreed to walk over the ground with the former Rebels to select a site. As soon as the Maryland Confederate veterans chose one, a strong disagreement ensued. The Southern veterans wanted to place the monument inside the Union works, which they claimed to have penetrated. The Monument Commission took over and placed the monument in front the Union breastworks which commission members said was as far as the Rebels had advanced.

The commission also changed the language the Confederate veterans wanted on the monument - from "charging" to "advancing" and from "capturing" to "occupied." These changes make it appear that the Confederates had been unopposed. Needless to say, the Confederates were furious.

In 1888, Union veterans put up a monument to the First Maryland Infantry on Culp's Hill. In 1903, in Baltimore, the United Daughters of the Confederacy erected their monument "Gloria Victis." Six years later, Union veterans responded by erecting a monument in Baltimore to Union soldiers and sailors. The United Daughters of the Confederacy struck again with a monument in 1914 honoring the women of the Confederacy. In 1948, the Lee-Jackson monument, the most Confederate of all, was dedicated and built with private funds in Baltimore. None of these monumental maneuvers indicated much reconciliation.

In 1902, the Grand Army of the Republic - the nation's largest organization of Union veterans - appointed Col. Benjamin F. Taylor, a Union veteran, to seek funds from Maryland for a monument to Latrobe's Battery (CSA) and the Third Maryland Infantry (USA), to be placed at the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.

Taylor put together a commission of Union and Southern veterans. The monument would cost $8,000 and was to be placed on Orchard Knob, west of Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga, Tenn. It is not clear if the Union veterans wanted a monument of reconciliation or if they wanted a war monument to the Union Third Maryland Infantry but had to include the Confederate Latrobe's Battery if they were to get support from a pro-Southern Democratic state Legislature.

The monument was completed in 1903. It is made of granite and stands 44 feet high. There are tablets on four sides of the monument. Table one depicts the action of the Union 3rd Maryland, and table two depicts the action of Latrobe's Battery of the Confederacy. Table three lists the names of the Monument Commissioners and table four has a message of reconciliation:

"The state of Maryland, in honored recognition of the historical value of her sons. …