2nd Maryland Infantry Battalion
(A.P. Hill's Third Army Corps, Heth's Division, McComb's Brigade)
Participants in the Breakthrough Battle at Petersburg on April 2, 1865
Fought on or near the present day grounds of Pamplin Historical Park
The 2nd Maryland Infantry Battalion was formed by former officers and soldiers of the 1st Maryland Infantry Battalion which had been disbanded by the War Department in August of 1862 due to its depleted condition and political wrangling in Richmond. Many veterans of the 1st Maryland Infantry reenlisted in the cavalry and the artillery, but a few officers and men stayed in Richmond to recruit fellow Marylanders who had run the Union blockade. They were successful in recruiting five full companies and departed in September of 1862 for the Shenandoah Valley.
The five companies arrived at Winchester, Virginia and formed another company from the existing companies. The officers elected by the battalion were Captain William H. Murray, Company A; Captain James Parren Crane, Company B; Captain James R. Herbert, Company C; Captain Joseph L. McAteer, Company D; Captain John W. Torsch, Company E; and Captain Andrew Jackson Gwynn, Company F. The battalion was soon joined by Captain William W. Goldsborough, having recovered from wounds received at 2nd Manassas, with a company raised on the Eastern Shore that was designated Company G. Since there was an insufficient number of soldiers to form a regiment, they were officially designated the 1st Maryland Infantry Battalion, but were often referred to as the 2nd Maryland Infantry to avoid confusion with the old 1st Maryland Infantry. They were also commonly known as the Maryland Battalion.
The 2nd Maryland Battalion was temporarily assigned to the command of General William "Grumble" Jones in the Valley and participated in several campaigns and raids in the upper Valley that winter.
In June of 1863, General Robert E. Lee commenced his second invasion of the North. He sent General Richard Ewell's 2nd Corps to the Valley to attack General Milroy's Union army. In this action, the 2nd Maryland was engaged during the battles of Kernstown and Winchester. At Winchester, they faced the Union 1st Maryland Regiment, driving them from the field and capturing many prisoners, including Major Goldsborough's brother, a surgeon.
After the battle, the 2nd Maryland was attached to the brigade of Gen. George Hume "Maryland" Steuart in General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's Division of Ewell's Corps. This brigade included the 1st and 3rd North Carolina and the 10th, 23rd and 37th Virginia. Steuart's Brigade arrived at Gettysburg on the evening of July 1, 1863 and went into camp near Rock Creek.
Late in the day on July 2nd, Steuart's brigade attacked Culp's Hill and were successful in carrying the Union breastworks, primarily because the position was lightly defended. Even though the Union 12th Corps had been sent to reinforce the left of the Federal line, the 2nd Maryland met resistance in the charge up the rocky, tree-covered slope and Colonel Herbert was severely wounded. After spending the night in the captured trenches, the brigade was ordered to sweep Union troops off Culp's Hill the following day. However, Union forces were strongly reinforced overnight and repulsed this attack, while inflicting over forty percent casualties on the Maryland Battalion, including the wounding of Major Goldsborough and the death of Captain William H. Murray. Command of the battalion devolved to Captain Crane of Company B. The brigade withdrew to their original camp across Rock Creek, before retreating with the army.
Bradley T. Johnson had long dreamed of a Maryland Line, a unique brigade consolidating all Maryland infantry, cavalry and artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia into one unit. For a short time in the spring of 1864, the 2nd Maryland Infantry, 1st Maryland Cavalry, and the 1st, 2nd, & 4th Maryland Artillery were brigaded together and not attached to any division.
The 2nd Maryland was held in reserve during the battle of Cold Harbor. On the night of June 2, 1864, the men of the 2nd Maryland fell exhausted onto the ground to sleep after a long march behind a salient held by Edgar's Battalion of General Echol's Brigade. Before dawn on the morning of the 3rd, the Federals attacked the salient. Many of the Maryland boys, still dead tired, continued to sleep, as they were hardened to the noise of battle. Within a short time, the salient was over run and Federal troops began firing at the sleeping men. The Marylanders rose from their blankets and mounted a counter-attack without orders, reaching the salient as the Federals were turning two guns to fire into the Confederate ranks. Followed by Finegan's Florida Brigade, the Marylanders recaptured the guns and turned them on the retreating Federals, firing canister until "nearly a hundred men were stretched on the plain, from the fire of the Second Maryland Infantry, and many others captured" (Richmond Sentinel June 6, 1864).
After Cold Harbor, the 2nd Maryland was attached to Archer's Brigade, 3rd Corps and remained there for the rest of the war. They took part in the trench warfare, battles and skirmishes around Petersburg from the late summer of 1864 until the spring of 1865. The 2nd Maryland was often assigned to picket duty due of the sterling reputation of its soldiers for not deserting; in the entire war there was only one recorded deserter in the regiment.
The regiment participated in the fighting for the Weldon Railroad in August 1864 and suffered heavy casualties, including Captain Crane. Command was given to Captain Duvall of Company C. At Peebles Farm, the regiment was again heavily engaged, suffering casualties of thirty percent, leaving only six officers in the regiment. Captain Duvall was wounded and Captain Torsch took command. At the battle of Squirrel Level Road, the 2nd Maryland was in action with only about a hundred able soldiers.
On April 2, 1865, near Hatcher's Run, the 2nd Maryland Battalion fought gallantly to stem the Union tide overwhelming the Confederate works. After recapturing Fort Davis, then losing it in a fierce fight, the men escaped with the retreating Army of Norhern Virginia.
When assembled for the last muster at Appomattox, the Maryland Battalion numbered about fifty men; most companies were commanded by sergeants.
Culp's Hill on the Third Day
The Letters of
2nd Maryland Infantry Battalion
Descendants Roll Call
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Not For Fame Or Reward
Not For Place Or For Rank
Not Lured By Ambition
Or Goaded By Necessity
But In Simple
Obedience To Duty
As They Understood It
These Men Suffered All - Sacrificed All
Dared all - And Died
Inscription written by Dr. Randolph Harrison McKim and carved
on the north side of the Confederate Memorial (sculpted by Moses Ezekiel)
at Arlington National Cemetery
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