Keeping Maryland in the Union

June 27, 1861 – Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, commanding Federal occupation forces in Baltimore, ordered the arrest of Police Marshal George P. Kane for suspected secessionist activity as part of the ongoing effort to keep Maryland in the Union.

This month, Federal forces continued tightening their grip on Maryland. When Maryland legislators demanded that Governor Thomas Hicks explain why he had ordered the confiscation of arms from the state militia, Hicks responded by distributing the arms to Unionists. This conflicted with the pro-Confederate sentiment of many Marylanders and their elected officials.

Nevertheless, Unionists won all six U.S. House of Representatives seats in a special Federal election. This indicated that Marylanders were not willing to sacrifice their strong economic ties to the northern states by siding with the Confederacy. Meanwhile, four Federal regiments had been organized in Maryland, with staunch Unionist John W. Garrett using his Baltimore & Ohio Railroad to bring troops from the West. Many Marylanders sympathizing with the Confederacy had gone to Virginia.

Federal General Nathaniel Banks | Image Credit:
Federal General Nathaniel Banks | Image Credit:

However, Baltimore remained a hotbed of secessionist activity, despite being under Federal military occupation. On June 27 General Banks carried out orders to arrest Baltimore Police Marshal Kane, who was suspected of working with Confederate agents to resist Federal rule. Federals entered Kane’s home without a warrant, seized him, and imprisoned him without formal charges at Fort McHenry.

The Baltimore mayor and police commissioners met and drafted a protest against Kane’s imprisonment. They asserted that while they would do nothing to “obstruct the execution of such measures as Major-General Banks may deem proper to take, on his own responsibility, for the preservation of the peace of the city and of public order, they can not, consistently with their views of official duty and of the obligations of their oaths of office, recognize the right of any of the officers and men of the police force, as such, to receive orders or directions from any other authority than from this Board; and that, in the opinion of the Board, the forcible suspension of their functions suspends at the same time the active operations of the police law.”

This conflict between the Federal occupiers and city officials continued into July.


Sources; Davis, Jefferson, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government (Kindle Edition 2008, 1889), Loc 5864-75; Denney, Robert E., The Civil War Years: A Day-by-Day Chronicle (New York: Gramercy Books, 1992 [1998 edition]), p. 53; Fredriksen, John C., Civil War Almanac (New York: Checkmark Books, 2007), p. 40; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 88; McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (Oxford History of the United States Book 6, Oxford University Press, Kindle Edition, 1988), p. 287; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks, Kindle Edition, 2012), Q261


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