James M. Deems Attends a Soldiers' Meeting
September 12, 1866

In 1866, James M. Deems attended a Baltimore soldiers' meeting, which denounced President Andrew Johnson and conservative Governor Thomas Swann. The soldiers denounced Confederates as "traitors" and expressed support for the 14th Amendment.

Opening of the Political Campaign

Procession of the “Boys in Blue”—Mass Meeting at Front St. Theatre—Resolutions Adopted—Delegates to the Pittsburg Convention, &c.

(Reported for the Baltimore Sun)

Last evening the streets were enlivened by the first political demonstration of the present campaign. Though there was an appearance of rain yet, shortly after dark, crowds began to gather in the vicinity of the City Hall, on Holliday street, to witness the procession of the “Boys in Blue,” an organization of the soldiers and sailors of the country, which has become quite popular in the Northern and Western cities.

About 7½ o’clock several of the ward organizations from the middle and eastern sections of the city arrived, and took up a position on Fayette street, the right resting on North street.—Shortly after the wards from the southern and western ends marched down Baltimore street to Holliday, and were received by their comrades with loud cheers. About 8 o’clock the column was formed, and the route of march taken. A platoon of police led the advance, followed by Itzell’s band, after which came the ward organizations, as follows: the 1st, 2d and 3rd wards, as a battalion, under the command of Major Herold, assisted by Captain Mead and Lieut. Snyder; the 4th ward, under Capt. S. Gray, with 60 men; 5th ward, Capt. Keene; 6th, 7th and 8th wards, under Colonel Summers, aided by Capt. J. W. S. Diggs; 9th ward, about 90 men, under Col. Faehtz, followed by twenty old veterans in uniform, inmates of the Maryland Soldiers’ Home, under their superintendent, Sergeant Stahl; then came the 10th, 11th, and 12th wards, under Captains Mathews and Addison; 13th and 14th wards, Captain Rothrock; 15th ward, Captain W. P. Eaton; 16th and 17th wards, Capt. John T. Bowersox; 18th, 19th and 20th wards, Brevet Brigadier General Gregory Barrett.

This body, numbering about 1,200 men, with Cols. Adreon, Marsh and Tarr as marshals, moved up Fayette to Calvert, to Lexington, to Charles, to Baltimore, to Frederick, to Gay, to Front, to the theatre, and presented an attractive appearance, the gay colored lanterns, the lavish display of national flags, and the several collections of martial music which interspersed the line, contributing greatly to enliven the scene. Each ward had in the line several transparencies, almost every man carrying a colored Chinese lantern, or other illuminated device. The mottoes attracted considerable notice, some being of an amusing nature, and others of a decidedly opposite character. Among them the following: “We have won the right to dictate terms, and we will do it;” “Boys in blue, remember Libby and Andersonville, too;” “First with bullets, now with ballots;” “Treason is odious, how are you Moses;” “Death to traitors;” “Every life lost in the defense of the government is a vote lost against ‘my policy;’” “No affiliation with traitors;” “Betrayed, but not dismayed,” &c.

Along the route of procession crowds gathered to a more or less extent, and at several points hearty cheers were given. The office of the Wecker, a German paper, was illuminated, and duly honored by the processionists. The procession reached the theatre a few minutes before nine o’clock, and on entering the building was received with loud cheering by those who had already assembled there in force. The entire police force was out and the strictest order maintained.

The Meeting—Its Proceedings

The meeting was for the purpose of selecting delegates to the Soldiers and Sailors’ National Convention, to assemble shortly at Pittsburg, Pa. Both the auditorium and the stage of the theatre were crowded, and in the stage-boxes and dress circle were quite a number of ladies. The stage was handsomely draped with national flags, and brilliantly lighted. Winters’s fine band of music was in attendance.

It was about 9 o’clock when the procession entered the theatre, and their flags and banners were ranged around in front of the dress circle and on the stage, presenting a brilliant effect, while the band played “Rally round the flag boys,” amidst the clapping of hands and shouts. Three tattered flags, of Maryland regiments, were held at the side of the speakers’ stand. The audience gave three cheers for the “corporal’s guard,” for Gen. Grant, for Thad. Stevens. They also gave three groans for Andrew Johnson and Thomas Swann.

The meeting was called to order by Colonel William T. Adronn, who named General Andrew W. Dennison as the president of the meeting, which was adopted. Gen. Dennison expressed his thanks for the honor. He stated the object of the meeting, and said they would always be represented when a similar call is made to send delegates to a convention of soldiers and sailors, who believe that treason should be made odious, and that traitors should be punished—who propose that Congress shall be continued as the law-making power.

He saw before him men with whom he had served at Antietam, Gettysburg, in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania and many other battlefields. He urged that when they went forth from here it should be to organize all over the State; organize in counties and precincts, to oppose those who were seeking to betray them. When you see the enemy before, the only call you want is “up boys and at them.” (Loud cheers.)

The president then announced the following as the other officers of the meeting, and they were unanimously adopted:

Vice Presidents-- [Lists several dozen men, including Gen. J. M. Deems.]

Secretaries—[Lists five men]

The following resolutions were unanimously adopted:

Whereas the singular and remarkable state of the country has again called us together to stand around the dear old flag, and the still more glorious principles that its bright folds represent; and

Whereas treason and treachery are again at work, and, as in 1861, the eyes of the loyal of Maryland are again turned towards the band of true and gallant hearts that wore the blue in the late struggle of the nation for its life; and

Whereas the position of the President of the United States, made glorious and immortal by the noble martyr and sterling patriot, Abraham Lincoln, has been degraded and belittled by the arrogance, assumption and undignified course of his successor; and

Whereas the foe so lately in that celebrated last ditch, humbled and repentant, has been by this man raised to his feet, now stand in rank and line, ready to try again with us the gage of battle; and

Whereas the long roll has been heard in the woods of Maine, and the mountain sides of Vermont have reverberated with stirring, radical notes of battle and victory, and State after State is wheeling into line once more for liberty and the right; and

Whereas the indiscriminate registration of rebels and traitors, brought about by the appointment of pliant tools of a State Executive, who is trying to ape his great leader in Washington in treachery to the party that placed him in position; and

Whereas the action of said parties is intended to deprive us of the fruits of four years’ struggle and victory in the late bloody effort to overthrow the constitution; therefore

Resolved, That we, the soldiers and sailors of Maryland, in the future as in the past, stand by the principles for which we fought, and for which so many of our comrades fell.

Resolved, That we utterly repudiate the attempt of the Executive of the United State[s] to fasten upon the people of this country his treacherous and contemptible policy.

Resolved, That having beaten down traitors in the field, we are not prepared to hand over the fruits of our victory to our deadliest enemies, at the behest of Presidents, Cabinets or Governors

Resolved, That we recognize in the Congress of the United States the representatives of the people and of our principles, and that we cordially endorse the principles set forth by them as the only way in which peace for us, and for those who are to come after us, can be permanently secured.

Resolved, That having fought four years to beat down treason and treachery, we are prepared to fight four more sooner than, by a cowardly compromise with our enemies, patch up a peace of a few years, and shift the war upon our children.

Resolved, That the Boys in Blue are organized for the campaign, and have enlisted for three years or the war.

List of Delegates to Pittsburg Convention

The following delegates to the Pittsburg Convention were chosen:

[Lists several dozen delegates, including James M. Deems.]

The president then announced Col. Pangborn, of New Jersey, who discussed the constitutional amendment at some length, and declared that the signs of the times were auspicious, and that nothing can transpire which will alter the verdict already made up.

The meeting was next addressed by General Franz Sigel, of Baltimore, who stated that he was not a citizen of Maryland, but was a citizen of the United States. The United States is the largest State in the world. He spoke of the two great powers of the government being in hostility to each other, and said the people, who held the balance of power, should come forward and sustain the law making power.

He discussed the policy of the President and declared that a large majority of the people of the United States were against him. There were more Germans who belonged to the copperhead party in this city than in any other place in the United States. He hoped the soldiers would work until the campaign is ended. The Convention at Pittsburg will proclaim principles to govern the great military party, or rather the great party which comprises every real soldier.

Hon B. Van Riper, of New Jersey, saw, he said, before him the heroes of a hundred battlefields. He told them to see to it that no rebel should vote on the 6th day of November next; and if they ask you why, tell them it was on your banners tonight, “Remember our comrades.” He hoped that they would never consent that any rebel should be placed on an equality with themselves, and that they would meet their apostate President and his allies at that field of strife, the ballot-box, on the 6th of November next.

The Hon. John L. Thomas, member of Congress from the Second district of Maryland, next addressed the meeting. He essayed to be very sarcastic in his remarks on the President, on Governor Swann, and the conservative party.

If Governor Swann attempted to usurp power to send the military to Baltimore on election day, he will find that the “boys in blue” will meet him at the polls, and that we have a Mayor who will assert his rights. He denounced the Governor in connection with the registry law, charging that his “high mightiness,” as he termed the Governor, had virtually repealed it, and that men had been registered who fought against us in the rebel army.

He said that the Congress at its next session would vote the soldiers $200 additional bounty, and were going to distribute the public lands to them. He then advocated the adoption of the constitutional amendment, and closed by defending John Lee Chapman from the charge of being dishonest, &c.

At the close of the meeting the various organizations marched off in detached bodies, with martial music, to their several places of rendezvous, making the streets in their routes resound with cheers for their favorite candidates.


The Baltimore Sun, September 20, 1866