Old Soldiers Home; Once a Proud Maryland Landmark

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Old Soldiers Home, Maryland State Police Academy, Site of Fallen Troopers Memorial Pikesville, Md.

The Dispatches from Little Dixie originally appeared in the weekly newspaper ST. MARY’S TODAY. The chronicles were penned by historian Joyce Bennett.

 

Old Soldiers Home; Once a Proud Maryland Landmark

Reenactors present the colors at the Point Lookout Confederate Cemetery. THE CHESAPEAKE photo

Dispatches from Little Dixie

By Joyce Bennett
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY

There aren’t enough hours in the day to do justice to Maryland’s Confederate history. I am constantly surprised by new facts about the state’s authentic past. Having just begun research on the Maryland Line Confederate Soldiers’ Home in Pikesville, not far from Baltimore, I thought I would share what I have unearthed so far.
Almost forgotten now, at one time this facility held an important place in the hearts of Marylanders and other Southerners. But as a young school girl, I never heard about the home even though I was taught Maryland “history” in the primary grades. My Confederate heritage was denied me it appears.
Though little is made of the home, there is some information about it on the internet, and there have been books written about it as well.
The buildings in which the facility was located date back to the year 1818 when they were used as a Federal arsenal. This alone would have qualified the site as a place to be preserved, possibly to be converted to a museum if anyone had cared. In 1888 Maryland’s branch of the Society of the Army and Navy of the Confederate States, with the help of Maryland lawmakers who revered the Southern veterans, established a home for Southern soldiers at the site. The Society, which would not admit any deserters or “unworthy soldiers” to join its ranks, was formed in 1871 to “preserve the material for a truthful history of the late war between the Confederate States and the United States of America” and to honor those who had died in defense of the South and those Southern veterans who had come upon hard times (from the Confederate Veteran February 1893).”

Third Md Infantry Confederates

The article states that the Society was instrumental in securing from the Legislature of Maryland in 1888 the former United States Arsenal buildings at Pikesville for use as a Confederate Home, supported by an annual appropriation of $5, 000. The article also says that the rooms at the home were furnished as “memorial offerings ” and that the home was a haven to old Southern veterans “from different states, but citizens of Maryland at time of entry.” 
According to the Maryland Historical Society’s MLCS Home Web page, there were 139 residents at the home at the end of the first five years of its operation. Sheltering aged soldiers until 1932, the home provided to its residents ” a place of special pride…the relic room, where trophies and memorabilia were displayed along with portraits of Confederate military leaders including Harry Gilmor, Henry Little, Lloyd Tilghman, Isaac Trimble, William Murray and Raphael Semmes.”
The MHS’s collection contains photographs of the facilities and residents of the home, portraits of CSA regiment “reunions and outings” as well as images of the memorabilia from the relic room. The webpage is interesting, and visitors are invited to “browse digital images” there. (Just type in keywords: Confederate Home Pikesville Maryland on a search engine like Yahoo or Google)
At the Maryland Office of the Secretary of State/Maryland State Archives webpage, I learned that there was a large cross bottony (this is one of the accepted spellings of the word) over the gate in front of the home. Where that cross bottony is now is an interesting question for a researcher to attempt to answer. This webpage, however, not surprisingly is shot through with revisionist “balance” and the usual tired references to Maryland’s divided sympathies and the reconciliation of pro-Union and pro-Southern factions in the state after the bloody conflict – the usual sophomoric, ill-considered stuff about Maryland and the War.
But back in the days when the MLCS Home was in operation, the sentiments were not so mild. The Confederate Veteran of November 1893 quoted William Pope, superintendent of the home, as saying:
“Now a little insight into the way we do things in Maryland: We have no ex-Confederate Societies, but several strong active Confederate Societies. We never mix in any manner with the other side – have no joint reunions, no joint banquets, no decoration, or memorial days in common. In fact, we do not mix at all, we go our own way they go theirs. We do not belong to that class of Confederates that believe they were right. We knew we were right in 1861. We knew we were right when the war closed, and we know we are right today.” (quoted on October 17, 1893).

So much for kissing and making up in
the Old Line State after the cannonade smoke had cleared.


So much for kissing and making up in the Old Line State after the cannonade smoke had cleared.
The Home is now the site of the Maryland State Police Barracks and Headquarters in Pikesville. In 1945 the Baltimore County Public Library was built on a portion of the grounds of the facility.
Soon I am going to take a trip up that way to see if there is a marker commemorating the home – maybe I’ll find the cross bottony. A rank neophyte concerning the Pikesville home, I will share what I learn with those who are interested as my research continues.
I have a feeling that there is so much more to say about this piece of Southern history. And I also have a hunch that if all the Confederate artifacts, photographs, portraits, manuscripts, records in our state could be gathered together under one roof, and Maryland’s story could be told there with displays and exhibits, we would have a museum that would rival the one in Richmond. I don’t think anyone really knows just how rich in Confederate history Maryland is, just how blessed we are as Marylanders.
This commentary was prepared with the kind assistance of J.B. Couch of the Vincent Camalier Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.


See more of Maryland history and Chesapeake lore in THE CHESAPEAKE: Tales & Scales, in Kindle, paperback and Audiblehttp://amzn.to/1zXcs22

In recent years, the Maryland State Police utilized the Old Soldiers Home as part of the State Police Academy and an effort is now underway to establish a State Police Museum with fundraising underway. The site shown in the photo is the Fallen Troopers Memorial near the old building. Photo courtesy of BWUnlimitedFundraising see link for more of effort to raise funds for Museumhttp://bit.ly/2BYxuXU

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