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The words to "Maryland, My Maryland" were written 150 years ago by journalist and poet James Ryder Randall, who attended Georgetown from 1848 to 1856. In 1861, while chair of English Literature at Poydras College, Pointe-Coupée, Louisiana, Randall read a newspaper report of the Baltimore Riot. This clash between pro-South civilians and Union troops in Randall's native city on 19 April, 1861, resulted in what is commonly accepted as the first bloodshed of the Civil War. The account Randall read stated--incorrectly as it turned out--that Francis X. Ward, who had been a roommate of Randall's at Georgetown, was among twelve civilians killed in the clash. Randall was moved by the news to write "Maryland, My Maryland." The song, which achieved wide popularity in Maryland and throughout the South and which is now the Maryland state song, begins:
The despot’s heel is on thy shore,
His torch is at thy temple door,
Avenge the patriotic gore
That flecked the streets of Baltimore,
And be the battle queen of yore,
Maryland! My Maryland!