As recently as the 1930’s, elderly black people in rural Maryland were still keeping headstrong children in line with the admonition that something called “pattiroll” would “get” them if they didn’t behave themselves. “Pattirolls,” or patrols, were gangs of Union Army soldiers who rode throughout the moonlit countryside enforcing curfews in occupied Maryland during the War Between the States, and they are just one small aspect of the era’s ironic and intriguing history, a history often misquoted by Northern liberal. Southern sellout, and cross-burning bigot, each to his own end.

In the spring of 1967, I saw the Ku Klux Klan parade down York Road in Towson, Maryland. Although their color guard carried the Confederate, the Maryland, and the United States flags, of the three only the Stars and Bars has unfortunately become America’s premier symbol of hatred and is most closely connected with the Klan. Any attempt, however, to prove that the flag stands for liberty, not racism, is lost on people whose heads are filled with welfarist legend. Also lost on most is the importance of the events which occurred in Maryland prior to and during the War for Southern Independence, but the drama of this little border state and of her people is central to any serious discussion of Calhoun’s irrepressible conflict.

The question of whether Maryland was more Southern or Northern in temperament has been debated, but I believe that the words of our state song, soon to be outlawed by the Northeastern expatriates and homegrown political “Step’n’Fetchits” in Annapolis, would not have survived to this day if the former were not true. A native of the Old Line State, James Ryder Randall, wrote the words to “Maryland, My Maryland” while living in Louisiana, to commemorate the citizens’ uprising (called a “riot” by Northern historians) which occurred on April 19, 1861, when the Sixth Massachusetts came marching through Baltimore. In spite of the fact that “Maryland, My Mar)’land” was one of the most popular songs among Confederate troops, there was some Southern resentment towards the state because Baltimore merchants were believed to have sold food and other items to the South at inflated prices. But like New Orleans, Baltimore (after it fell to Lincoln’s forces) was not in charge of its fortunes, and those controlling Baltimore commerce were not Marylanders. More typical of Baltimore and Maryland were the sisters Constance and Hettie Cary who, using material from their best party’ dresses, made a Confederate battle flag and presented it to General Pierre Beauregard. Baltimore’s ladies also wore red to show their Southern loyalty even after Confederate emblems were banned by the occupation army. And without a penny’s profit, countless partisans throughout the state risked death by hanging for smuggling contraband to Virginia to support the Southern cause. But the misconceptions persisted, and even at Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond, Marylanders, wounded and dying for the Confederacy, were shunned by the other patients.

Any Southern ill will directed at Marylanders might have resulted from the high hopes the South had for their state early in the war. A.L. Long, military secretary to General Lee, talked about Lee’s disappointment when the Army of Northern Virginia crossed the Potomac into Maryland in September 1862. Lee had expected the people of Maryland to rebel against the iron heel of the North and join the Confederates when his liberation army arrived. But Lee’s army was rescuing a state populated by women, children, old men, and Lincoln’s garrisons. The fighting men were already fighting for the South and the North, although how many native Marylanders actually served on either side is unknown. Federal records concerning Maryland enlistees and conscripts cannot be trusted any more than can the results of the militarily controlled elections held in the state after 1860. Fearing reprisals from Mr. Lincoln’s men, as the Yankee soldiers were known, the families of those who “absconded South” did not advertise the Confederate service of their sons, brothers, and husbands. Maryland was at least as Southern in her sympathies as Kentucky, but Kentucky, which provided 75,000 Union soldiers, has almost become synonymous with the South, while Maryland, if anyone notices her at all, has been moved north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

As evidenced by the election of 1860, Maryland’s politics prior to the occupation mirrored those of the South. The election results belie the revisionist contention that only Maryland’s southernmost counties and her Eastern Shore were aligned with the rest of the South, while the western and central sections of the state were sympathetic to the North. Lincoln and Douglas together received less than ten percent of Marylanders’ votes. Although secessionist fervor was rampant on the Eastern Shore and in the lower counties of the Western Shore— people in St. Mary’s to this day still remember the name of the only man in the county who voted for Lincoln—the majority of Marylanders, like the majority of Southerners, voted either for Breckenridge or for Bell, both supporters of states’ rights. In spite of the fact that Maryland was home to more free blacks than any other state in the union, Breckenridge, considered the extremist Southern candidate, was favored, if just by 737 votes, over the more moderate Bell. But in the aftermath of Fort Sumter and Lincoln’s call for 75,000 volunteers, Maryland, laboring under the illusion that she was a free and sovereign state, hesitated in seceding because she was waiting to see whether her “erring” sister Virginia would depart. By the time Maryland’s legislators, the majority of whom were secessionists, were to meet to vote on the matter of secession. Northern troops had crossed Maryland’s border, and Lincoln had suspended habeas corpus and ordered the arrest of the General Assembly.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney was one of many Marylanders who stood up to Lincoln and his outrages. Taney, like Sir Thomas More, would have given the Devil himself benefit of law and defended unionist, secessionist, slaveholder, and Abolitionist alike from a fast and loose interpretation of the Constitution. While he denounced slavery from the bench and freed his own slaves years before the war, Taney is most famous for delivering the majority opinion in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857, a ruling which many believe led directly to the war. In 1861, the pro-union Chief Justice challenged Lincoln’s constitutional abuses. The arrogant dismissal by Lincoln’s agents of the writs of attachment and habeas corpus issued by Taney in the John Merryman trial in May of that year, however, left Taney with no recourse but to ask Lincoln to render to Maryland that which was her birthright.

Along with Taney, other Marylanders were key players during these turbulent times. Born in Charles County, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, known as Rebel Rose, engaged in espionage right under the enemy’s noses in Washington, D.C., and provided the military intelligence that contributed to Beauregard’s victory over McDowell at First Manassas. Also from Charles County, Admiral Raphael Semmes served the Confederacy as the commander of the Alabama. Henry Kyd Douglas from Washington County in western Maryland rode at Stonewall’s side until the general’s death following Chancellorsville, and maintained in his memoirs that the Barbara Fritchie tale told by Whittier was a Yankee fabrication. And of course, southern Maryland’s Dr. Samuel Mudd is famous for setting the broken leg of the era’s most notorious villain, Bel Air-born John Wilkes Booth—actor, assassin, and charmer of boarding-house proprietress Mary Elizabeth Surratt, also a Marylander. An aging widow beguiled by the handsome Booth, Mrs. Surratt paid dearly for her infatuation: following a hellish imprisonment, she was hanged as a coconspirator in the assassination of Lincoln. A devout Catholic, she swore her innocence from the Old Capitol Prison gallows even after she had received the last rites of the Church.

Without skewing events in favor of a feminist ideology, historians will find that women have always been prominent in Maryland’s history. In an Episcopal churchyard in Chaptico lies Catharine Hayden, another heroine of the war. Known as the Angel of Chaptico, she was a young epileptic woman who, at great peril to her life, obtained medicines from her physician brother-in-law and tended to the suffering Confederate soldiers who often hid themselves in the woods surrounding her home. Hungry, wounded, and seeking aid. Confederates continuously crossed the Potomac into southern Maryland using a well-developed ferry system. As late as the turn of the century, Catharine Hayden’s family received letters of condolence from all over the South when Southern veterans, attending reunions years after the war, learned of her death on December 26, 1872.

At first glance, there might seem to be a contradiction in honoring both secessionist Catharine Hayden and Frederick Douglass, who rose up from bondage on a plantation on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and escaped to the “Promised Land” only to be attacked, while on speaking tours, by mobs in Pennsylvania, New York, and Indiana. But both were fighting for freedom. Douglass, a spellbinding orator and statesman, prevailed over the Northern and Southern racialism of the times without benefit of affirmative action or welfare. The same revisionists who hope that we never learn that Yankee slavers, Europeans, and even some Africans all profited from slavery would also trivialize Douglass’s victory over slavery in their endeavors to pretty up America’s history.

A few years ago, a local paper representing not-so-local interests featured an article about Sotterly Plantation on the Patuxent River in southern Maryland. The article described the plantation director’s reluctance to repair Sotterly’s rapidly deteriorating slave quarters because he believed that by restoring the cabins he was condoning slavery. When I read the article, I wondered how one individual had grown so great that he could presume to question the wisdom of preserving the last vestiges of Maryland’s past.

Because little remains of our Southern identity, Marylanders can afford no more tampering with our history. Our oystermen and tobacco farmers are already museum pieces. They’re nailing up brass whales even-where and opening “ye olde Yankee shoppes” in towns like St. Michael’s; “you guys” is replacing “y’all”; and the billboard sign that greets the traffic crossing the Potomac into the Free State from King George County, Virginia, proclaims “Maryland Enjoy,” a greeting that would be more at home in Brooklyn. Although our state song might soon be replaced with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic”—a few years ago there was even a move in Annapolis to replace jousting with duckpin bowling as our state sport—an objective look at Maryland’s history could at least provide some valuable lessons in liberties gained and lost. But there is little interest in the history of a very small state which many people can’t even find on a map. A good friend of mine was living in Missouri when she and her husband were relocated to Maryland with his company. She told me that, before the move, she had been excited about living in a place where old sea captains speaking in broad, colorful Irish brogues (like the madman Quint in laws) stoically hauled in their lobster pots all the day long. If you ask people where West Virginia is, they will tell you way down South. But the bulk of West Virginia, the region of Virginia that seceded from the Old Dominion in 1861 to join the Union, is roughly parallel with Maryland.

A Southerner, however, is not defined by latitude, the thickness of his accent, or whether he abides by the rules of behavior set forth in the popular paperback books on how to be Southern in ten easy lessons. Virginians are quintessential Southerners, and their accents (they have more than one) pale in comparison to the Texas drawl. Being Southern isn’t just a matter of whether you ever had poke salad, country ham, or roast possum with sweet potatoes. It is something you feel deep in your bones, no matter how anyone else defines you. You know that you are a true Southerner when you are reluctant to visit the hard, rocky battlefields of Gettysburg, when you return time after time to the house at Guinea Station, Virginia, where Jackson died, and when you realize that you cannot tolerate even one more day of the rudeness, braggadocio, and clamor imposed upon you by the culture of the Northeast.

People from Dawsonville, Georgia, will be puzzled by my claim that I am one of them, and an acquaintance once suggested that my attempts to identify myself as Southern were pointless and a bit peculiar. But I will always remember the day my seventh-grade physical education teacher, a West Virginian, called my fellow classmates and me Yankees. Standing there in a rumpled gym suit, I felt as if I had been called a dirty word. I had always possessed an affinity for the South but didn’t fully realize then—in spite of the gym teacher’s lack of knowledge of history and geography—that I was a Southerner.

When the Navy came to my county in the 1940’s, the locals tended to embrace the culture of these transients and sometimes modified their accent to accommodate the ethnocentrism of their new neighbors. My mother—who is still very beautiful at 70 and who speaks in softly Southern nuances —confided to me that a Northern woman, unschooled in our ancient dialect, had once ridiculed her for pronouncing the word “humble” with a silent “h.” Before I lost most of my accent, I had also been criticized at times for my way of speaking. When I was in elementary school, a cousin, who had been educated in private academies and had lived most of her young life in South America, came to visit one Easter week. During the course of the visit, the subject of boiled eggs arose, and my cousin pointed out that my pronunciation of the word “boiled,” which to her ears sounded like “bald,” was incorrect. Years later, when I was working on the Navy Base at Patuxent River, Maryland, a co-worker, a woman from New York state, also took it upon herself to correct my accent. She informed me that the proper pronunciation of the word “pecan” was “pi-kahn.” Less secure in my identity at the time, I changed the way I said the word. Today, however, I say “peé-can” to my heart’s content, and “New Yawkers” be damned.

In the 1970’s, 90 miles from the Canadian border and surrounded by endless acres of winter, I figured out exactly who I was. When I first moved to Minnesota, I was homesick, but eventually developed a deep affection for Minnesotans, who are intelligent and hospitable people. But after I had been in the Land of 10,000 Lakes for a while, I was able to hear my family’s modest accent for the first time, and from such a distance, I could more fully appreciate the people down home. Since my self-discovery in Minnesota, I have tried to tell Maryland’s story even when no one was listening. Those who write essays on Old Virginny’s swan song do not first have to make the case that what is dying is Southern culture because Virginia’s culture and her history have been well documented. The growth of D.C.’s military and governmental complex since World War II, and the influx of Northerners to Maryland because of the recession in the early 1990’s and more recently because of military base closings, have sealed Maryland’s fate. But as the culture of fox hunter, soft crabber, and moonshiner fades and is replaced by the manic urbiculture of the Garden State, a fair and accurate accounting of Maryland’s past could destroy a few myths about the birth of a nation and about the South’s desperate but honorable stand against the tyranny of Honest Abe and his North.