“General Lee's Wooing”


"My Maryland, my Maryland, I bring thee presents fine, A dazzling sword with jewelled hilt...." (The Confederates "woo" the border state, but the end is bloody): "My Maryland, my Maryland, alas the ruthless day... Proud gentlemen... whose bones lie stark"


The Confederates always wanted Maryland to join them. Local sentiment probably did not favor them, however, and in any case the federal government could hardly allow the secession of the state in which Washington was located.

The South had to pursue a forceful "wooing." In 1862, having won the Seven Days' Battles and Second Bull Run, Robert E. Lee took the Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland. He didn't do well. Few recruits came in, and many of his own soldiers refused to cross the Potomac. Add the fact that Union General George McClellan captured a copy of Lee's orders, and it was almost a miracle that he was able to assemble his army

at Sharpsburg to fight McClellan.

The Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg was hardly a victory for anyone. It produced the highest casualties of any single day of battle in the war. By the time it was over, every regiment in Lee's army was worn out, and he may have had fewer than 25,000 effective soldiers left. McClellan still had unused troops, but he refused to commit them; his losses had also been immense.

After the battle, Lee headed back across the Potomac. The wooing of Maryland was over. An unknown Union soldier wrote this song to commemorate the fiasco.

The one good result of Antietam was that it was enough of a victory -- barely -- to allow Lincoln to issue the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. - RBW

Historical references

  • Sept 17, 1862 - Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg). Robert E. Lee's invasion of Maryland meets a bloody check at the hands of McClellan

Cross references


  1. Scott-BoA, pp. 233-235, "General Lee's Wooing" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. BI, SBoA233


Author: unknown
Found in: US