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A History of the United States by Cecil Chesterton

Was not convincing to Marylanders


The

change brought no better fortune; indeed, it was the prelude to a disaster worse than any that McClellan had suffered. Pope advanced by the route of the original invasion, and reached exactly the point where McDowell's army had been routed. Here he paused and waited. While he lay there Jackson made another of his daring raids, got between him and Washington and cut his communications, while Lee fell upon him and utterly destroyed his army in the second battle of Bull Run.

Lee's victory left him in full possession of the initiative, with no effective force immediately before him and with a choice of objectives. It was believed by many that he would use his opportunity to attack Washington. But he wisely refrained from such an attempt. Washington was guarded by a strong garrison, and its defences had been carefully prepared. To take it would involve at least something like a siege, and while he was reducing it the North would have the breathing space it needed to rally its still unexhausted powers. He proposed to himself an alternative, which, if he had been right in his estimate of the political factors, would have given him Washington and much more, and probably decided the war in favour of the Confederacy. He crossed the Potomac and led his army into Maryland.

The stroke was as much political as military in its character. Maryland was a Southern State. There was a sort of traditional sisterhood between her

and Virginia. Though she had not seceded, it was thought that her sympathies must be with the South. The attack on the Union troops in Baltimore at the beginning of the war had seemed strong confirmation of this belief. The general impression in the South, which the Southern general probably shared, was that Maryland was at heart Secessionist, and that a true expression of her will was prevented only by force. The natural inference was that when a victorious Southern commander appeared within her borders, the people would rally to him as one man, Washington would be cut off from the North, the President captured, the Confederacy recognized by the European Powers, and the North would hardly continue the hopeless struggle. This idea was embodied in a fierce war-song which had recently become popular throughout the Confederate States and was caught up by Lee's soldiers on their historic march. It began--

"The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland! My Maryland!"

And it ended--

"She is not dead, nor deaf, nor dumb! Hurrah! She spurns the Yankee scum! She breathes! She lives! She'll come! she'll come! Maryland! My Maryland!"

But Maryland did not come. The whole political conception which underlay Lee's move was false. It may seem curious that those who, when everything seemed to be in favour of the North, had stoned Union soldiers in the streets of the State capital, should not have moved a finger when a great Southern soldier came among them with the glamour of victory around him and proclaimed himself their liberator. Yet so it proved. The probable explanation is that, Maryland lying under the shadow of the capital, which was built for the most part on her territory, Lincoln could deal with her people directly. And wherever he could get men face to face and show the manner of man he was, he could persuade. Maryland was familiar with "the despot" and did not find his "heel" at all intolerable. The image of the horrible hairy Abolitionist gloating constantly over the thought of a massacre of Southerners by Negroes, which did duty for a portrait of Lincoln in the South, was not convincing to Marylanders, who knew the man himself and found him a kindly, shrewd, and humorous man of the world, with much in his person and character that recalled his Southern origin, who enforced the law with strict impartiality wherever his power extended, and who, above all, punctiliously returned any fugitive slaves that might seek refuge in the District of Columbia.


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