This Month In County History

April 1861: Advent of Civil War

April 15, 2005

After Abraham Lincoln took office and the opening shots of the Civil War rang out in April 1861, Maryland was sharply divided. Riots broke out between secessionists and Union loyalists in the northernmost slaveholding state.

Maryland's governor, Thomas H. Hicks, called a special session of the legislature. During this week 144 years ago, Hicks also was desperately trying to prevent the United States Army from seizing any of the state's strategic land or roads.

Hicks was unsuccessful in keeping a Union general and federal troops from laying claim to an important railroad - the Annapolis and Elkridge Railroad - in the first weeks of the conflict.

Hicks also failed in his attempt to gather the legislature in the usual location: Annapolis. Because the capital was occupied by federal troops, the hastily called assembly met instead in Frederick.

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