Articles of War

The Maryland Historical Society’s documents, weapons, and personal items offer a glimpse of the Civil War the way Marylanders lived it.

Photography by David Colwell

Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, Shiloh . . . on and on go the names of unforgettable Civil War battles. The seemingly endless list of destruction that spanned 1861 to 1865 left 600,000 men dead and a landscape forever scarred by the blood of brother against brother. In Maryland, a border state, the tale of division and disunion was writ large. One contemporary described Maryland during the Civil War as "the weeping maiden, bound and fettered, seeking relief." Although officially allied with the Union, many Marylanders sympathized and supported the Confederate cause. Maryland during the Civil War is a tale of voices and loyalties split in two.

On April 15, the Maryland Historical Society's newest exhibition, "Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War," opens to the public. Unlike many exhibitions that tackle the monumental subject of the Civil War with a death march of dates and facts, MdHS has taken an interpretive path that focuses the lens on the individuals who bring the story to life. Some of the highlighted figures are familiar—Frederick Douglass, Clara Barton, Abraham Lincoln. Other individuals highlighted in the exhibition are seldom mentioned except by scholars and aficionados of the period, but their stories provide windows into what the war was like for the Marylanders who lived through it.

Through these individual stories and more than 300 objects and images from the period, some of which appear here, the war comes alive. Visitors will be struck by the depth of this collection and the endless stories these objects, documents, photographs, textiles, and weapons can still tell. The Maryland Historical Society is providing a rare experience, a most appropriate commemoration of one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history.

—By Alexandra Deutsch, Chief Curator