“Maryland! My Maryland”


"The despot's heel is on thy shore, Maryland, my Maryland." The state's heroic history is recalled; the singer wants and expects her to join the Confederacy: "Huzza! She spurns the northern scum! She breathes! She burns! She'll come!"

Supplemental text

Maryland! My Maryland
  Complete text(s)

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From sheet music published 1861 by Miller & Beacham
Title page inscribed
Crescite et multiplicamini
       Written by
A Baltimorean in Louisiana
Music Adapted & Arranged by

I. The despot's heel is on thy shore,
     Maryland, My Maryland!
   His touch* is at thy temple door
     Maryland, My Maryland!
   Avenge the patriotic gore
   That fleck'd the streets of Baltimore,
   And be the Battle Queen of yore,
     Maryland, My Maryland!

II. Hark to a wand'ring son's appeal!
     Maryland, My Maryland!
   My mother state! to thee I kneel,
     Maryland, My Maryland!
   For life and death, for woe and weal,
   Thy peerless chivalry reveal,
   And gird thy beauteous limbs with steel,
     Maryland, My Maryland!

Thou wilt not cower in the dust,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
Thy beaming sword shall never rust,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
Remember Carroll's sacred trust,
Remember Howard's warlike thrust --
And all thy slumberers with the just,
  Maryland! My Maryland!

Come! for thy shield is bright and strong,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
Come, for thy dalliance, does thee wrong,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
Come! to thine own heroic throng,
That stalks with liberty along,
And give a new Key to thy song,
  Maryland! My Maryland!

Dear mother! burst the tyrant's chain,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
Virginia should not call in vain!
  Maryland! My Maryland!
She meets her sisters on the plain --
"Sic semper" tis the proud refrain,
That baffles minions back amain,
  Maryland! My Maryland!

I see the blush upon thy cheek,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
But thou wast ever bravely meek,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
But lo! there surges forth a shriek
From hill to hill, from creek to creek --
Potomac calls to Chesapeake,
  Maryland! My Maryland!

Thou wilt not yield the vandal toll,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
Though wilt not crook to his control,
  Maryland! My Maryland!
Better the fire upon thee roll,
Better the blade, the shot, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul,
  Maryland! My Maryland!

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!

* Most versions use the word "torch" here


James Ryder Randall was a native of Baltimore. At the time of the Civil War he was teaching English at Poydras College in Louisiana. He wrote this poem on April 26, 1861, after hearing of the Baltimore riot; the piece was published in a New Orleans paper on May 5. Randall hoped it would help encourage Maryland to secede.

Randall's expectations were disappointed; Maryland never joined the Confederacy. The Union could not possibly allow it; the loss of Maryland would place Washington inside Confederate territory. The federal government moved quickly to prevent the state's succession. One side effect of this was the riots in Baltimore that inspired "Maryland! My Maryland."

Chances are, however, that Maryland would not have seceded. Baltimore favored the rebellion, but the rest of the state seems to have been Unionist. A fair number of Maryland citizens went south -- Lee's army contained a Maryland battalion -- but more served in the Northern armies.

The reference to the "patriotic gore / that flecked the streets of Baltimore" is, of course, to the Baltimore riots. "Carroll" is Charles Carroll, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I believe "Howard's warlike thrust" refers to Major John Eager Howard, who led the handful of troops who cut their way out of a British trap at the Battle of Camden (1780).

It should be noted that the sung version of this song does not quite match the written version. In Randall's poem, the internal refrain was not "Maryland, my Maryland"; he used this only in the final line. The internal phrase was simply "Maryland." This was expanded to fit the tune. For a time the poem was sung to the tune "Manormandie," but this was not a success. The "O Tannenbaum" tune is said to have been fitted by a Baltimore girl, Jennie Cary.

Even though Randall's authorship was widely known, a few other names also circulated. Wharton's _War Songs and Poems of the Southern Confederacy_, for instance, credits it to Lamar Fontaine. - RBW

Historical references

  • April, 1861 - Clashes between Massachusetts troops and the residents of Baltimore

Cross references


  • Harry Macdonough, "Maryland, My Maryland" (CYL: Edison 2033, c. 1897)
  • Tandy Mackenzie, "Maryland, My Maryland" (Columbia 80320, n.d.)


  1. RJackson-19CPop, pp. 130-133, "Maryland! My Maryland" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Silber-CivWar, pp. 60-61, "Maryland, My Maryland" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Hill-CivWar, pp. 195-197, "My Maryland" (1 text)
  4. Krythe 9, pp. 142-149, "Maryland, My Maryland" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Fuld-WFM, pp. 355-357, "Maryland, My Maryland -- (O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!; Lauriger Horatius)"
  6. ST RJ19130 (Full)
  7. BI, RJ19130


Author: Words: James Ryder Randall
Earliest date: 1861
Found in: US(SE)