James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 19

Through Baltimore

By Bayard Taylor (1825–1878)

  • As the Sixth Massachusetts and the Seventh Pennsylvania regiments were on their way to Washington on April 19, 1861, they were attacked by a mob in the streets of Baltimore.

  • ’TWAS Friday morn: the train drew near

    The city and the shore.

    Far through the sunshine, soft and clear,

    We saw the dear old flag appear,

    And in our hearts arose a cheer

    For Baltimore.

    Across the broad Patapsco’s wave,

    Old Fort McHenry bore

    The starry banner of the brave,

    As when our fathers went to save,

    Or in the trenches find a grave

    At Baltimore.

    Before us, pillared in the sky,

    We saw the statue soar

    Of Washington, serene and high:—

    Could traitors view that form, nor fly?

    Could patriots see, nor gladly die

    For Baltimore?

    “O city of our country’s song!

    By that swift aid we bore

    When sorely pressed, receive the throng

    Who go to shield our flag from wrong,

    And give us welcome, warm and strong,

    In Baltimore!”

    We had no arms; as friends we came

    As brothers evermore,

    To rally round one sacred name—

    The charter of our power and fame:

    We never dreamed of guilt and shame

    In Baltimore.

    The coward mob upon us fell:

    McHenry’s flag they tore:

    Surprised, borne backward by the swell,

    Beat down with mad, inhuman yell,

    Before us yawned, a traitorous hell

    In Baltimore!

    The streets our soldier-fathers trod

    Blushed with their children’s gore:

    We saw the craven rulers nod,

    And dip in blood the civic rod—

    Shall such things be, O righteous God,

    In Baltimore?

    No, never! By that outrage black,

    A solemn oath we swore,

    To bring the Keystone’s thousand back,

    Strike down the dastards who attack,

    And leave a red and fiery track

    Through Baltimore!

    Bow down, in haste, thy guilty head!

    God’s wrath is swift and sore:

    The sky with gathering bolts is red—

    Cleanse from thy skirts the slaughter shed,

    Or make thyself an ashen bed,

    O, Baltimore!