The 2nd MD Infantry was actually formed around the survivors of the “Gallant First”, who had been disbanded by the War Department in June 1862. Some of the old First Regiment reenlisted in the cavalry and others in the artillery, but a few officers and men stayed in Richmond and recruited fellow Marylanders who had run the Yankee blockade to form another infantry regiment. They were successful in recruiting five full companies by September 1862 and soon left Richmond for the Shenandoah Valley. They did not join Lee’s army for the Antietam Campaign and therefore, on Lee’s first foray to Maryland there was no Maryland regiment for the recruits that Lee hoped would join him. If there was a Maryland unit in the army at that time, Lee might have received more recruits.
As it was, the five companies arrived at Winchester and formed another company from the five existing and elected officers for the battalion. Elected were Capt. William Murray (Co. A), Capt. J.P. Crane (Co. B), Capt. James R. Herbert (Co. C), Capt. Joseph McAleer (Co. D)., Capt. John Torsch (Co. E), and Capt. Fred Gwynn (Co. F). While in this camp, the battalion was soon joined by Capt. William Goldsborough with a company that he had raised on the Eastern Shore and it was designated Company G. Since there were not enough men to form a regiment, but only a battalion, the unit was officially the First Maryland Battalion of Infantry, but was generally referred to as the 2nd MD Regiment to avoid confusion with the old First.
On September 28th, the battalion was officially mustered into the Confederate States Army and elections were held for field grade officers. The first ballot went to Bradley Johnson for Lt. Colonel, but since he was on assignment in Richmond, he declined the office. He suggested that since Capt. Herbert did most of the work in recruiting the new unit, that he should lead it and the battalion voted accordingly. Capt. Herbert became Lt. Colonel and Capt. Goldsborough was elevated to Major. Their companies were taken over by Lts. Duvall and Stewart respectively, who were promoted to Captain.
The 2nd MD was 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. These were generally very arduous marches, since most of Jones’ troops were cavalry and the infantry was hard pressed to keep up. One of the first skirmishes that the battalion was in was the raid on the B & O Railroad in the Spring of 1863.
In June 1863, Gen. Lee began his second invasion of the North and as a start to clear the way, he sent Gen. Richard Ewell and the 2nd Corps to the Valley to rout Gen. Milroy’s Union army. In this action the 2nd MD was engaged at the battle of Kernstown and Winchester and at Winchester they faced the 5th Maryland, USA, driving them from the field. Maj. Goldsborough captured his brother here, a surgeon in the 5th MD.
After the battle, the 2nd MD was attached to the brigade of Gen. George H. Steuart, a fellow Marylander, in Gen.Edward Allegheny Johnson’s Division of Ewell’s Corps. This brigade included the 1st & 3rd NC regiments, and the 10th, 23rd & 37th VA regiments. They marched with Lee’s army and arrived at Gettysburg on the evening of July 1st, and went into camp on the banks of Rock Creek. They prepared to attack the Union troops on Culp’s Hill the next day.
The next day, July 2nd, the brigade attacked the east end of Culp’s Hill and was successful in carrying the Union breastworks, primarily because the position was lightly defended; the Union 12th Corps having been sent to reinforce the left of the line. The 2nd MD did meet some resistance in this charge up the rocky and tree covered slope and it was here that Col. Herbert was severely wounded, being hit by three separate shots and was sent to the rear. After spending the night in their captured trenches, the brigade formed up the next day (July 3rd) at a right angle to their previous position and tried to sweep the Union troops off the rest of Culp’s Hill. The Union had been reinforced and repulsed this attack, Maj. Goldsborough was wounded and Capt. Murray (Co. A) was killed. So, command of the battalion went to Capt. Crane (Co. B), the next senior rank. That evening the brigade was withdrawn to their original camp on the banks of Rock Creek.
Losses were high for the two-
It was then time to retreat and when the 2nd MD went into camp in Virginia, Bradley Johnson arranged for it to be transferred to the Maryland Line, a unique fighting unit he was forming at the time. In an effort to consolidate all Maryland troops together, Johnson had the 2nd MD Infantry, the 1st MD Cavalry, and the 1st, 2nd, & 4th MD Artillery all together and not attached to any brigade or division. It was in this camp of the Maryland Line that the battalion was officially recognized as the 2nd MD Regiment by the Secretary of War.
In June 1864, the 2nd MD was held in reserve during the battle of Cold Harbor and as Hancock’s attack broke the first line of Confederates, the 2nd MD was awakened by charging Federal troops. Without orders, the regiment quickly fell in and with the help of Finegan’s Florida brigade, they mounted a bayonet charge and recaptured their own line, turning some of the cannon on the retreating Federals. The regiment was commended for their gallantry in this action and Lee credited them with saving Richmond.
After this battle, the 2nd MD was attached to Archers Brigade. Archer was another Marylander, and they participated in the movements and battles of this 3rd Corps unit for the rest of the war. They took part in the trench war around Petersburg and while there, another company was added to the Regiment (Co. H), made up of conscripts from Richmond. But they soon adopted the morale and fighting qualities of the Maryland men. It was at this time that the 2nd MD became favorite for picket duty because of its reputation for not deserting. In the entire war there is 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 Capt. Crane. So, command was now given to Capt. Duvall of Co. C. At Peebles Farm, the regiment was again heavily engaged, with casualties of 30%, and leaving only six officers in the regiment. Capt. Duvall was wounded and Capt. Torsch (Co D);took command. At the battle of Squirrel Level Road, the 2nd MD was in action, numbering only 100 men. In the Spring of 1865, at Hatcher’s Run, the regiment was overrun and the men made their way back to the army as best they could.
When finally assembled at Appomattox, the unit could muster only 59 men to answer roll call of the regiment. Most companies were commanded by Sergeants. Company A had the most men present (12) and Company H, the lease (1). This was all that was left of the gallant men from Maryland who left their homes and families to fight for an ideal; not to defend their homeland, as did most Confederates.