The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

III. Poets of the Civil War II

§ 11. Songs of the Soldiers

He read the poem the next morning to his students, and at their suggestion sent it to the New Orleans Delta, from which it was copied in nearly every Southern journal. The finding of an appropriate melody for the words was the achievement of the Cary sisters of Baltimore. A glee club, which was in the habit of singing at their home, sang the words to the tune Lauriger Horatius, well known as a college tune that had come from a modification of the German Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum. A few weeks later, shortly after the battle of Manassas, the two sisters and their brother went through the Southern lines. One night while visiting the headquarters of General Beauregard they were serenaded by a regiment of soldiers from New Orleans, who in turn asked for a song. One of the sisters sang My Maryland; the refrain was speedily caught up and tossed back from hundreds of rebel throats, who shouted, “We will break her chains; she shall be free!” Soon the words which had been read far and wide were being sung in every part of the South—had become indeed a great national song, the Marseillaise of the Confederacy.

The words—too familiar to be quoted—suggest every aspect of the great struggle from the Southern standpoint. They summarize in passionate, concentrated lines the points of view that are scattered here and there throughout all the anthologies of Southern poetry. The feeling of an exiled son at the invasion of his home, the crushing of liberty under the despot’s heel, the peerless chivalry of Maryland’s former heroes of history and tradition, his love for the state as a mother, the appeal for a sister state’s aid to Virginia, and, on the other hand, the fierce indignation at the “vandal,” the “despot,” the “Northern scum”—all these are suggestive of the passion of a people giving themselves entirely to the great struggle.