Annapolis Charter 300 1708-2008
—Commemorating the 1708 Royal Charter under Queen Anne to the City of Annapolis —
General Butler to Governor Hicks
Off Annapolis, April 22, 1861
"Have I your excellency's permission...to land my men, to supply their wants, and to relieve them from the extreme and unhealthy confinement of a transport vessel not fit to receive them? P.S.—It occurs to me that our landing on the grounds of the Naval Academy would be entirely proper, and in accordance to your excellency's wishes."
Excerpt from Harper's Weekly May 11, 1861
In April 1861, Annapolis became the major avenue for thousands of Union troops rushing to defend Washington, D.C. General Benjamin Butler led the operation as Commander of the "Department of Annapolis," comprised of Annapolis and 20 miles on either side of the railroad. General Butler exercised martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus. Many citizens were imprisoned if found not loyal to the Union.
The United States Naval Academy relocated to Newport, RI and the Academy grounds transformed to U General Hospital Division No.1, with about 2,000 beds. St. John's College was also used as a hospital and encampment for Union soldiers. One famous patient was General Joshua Chamberlain of Gettysburg fame.
Throughout the war, Annapolis was the major port receiving prisoners of war paroled from Southern prisons. One of these "Parole" camps
was established several miles west of Annapolis along the Annapolis-Elkridge Railroad. Numerous emaciated prisoners arrived, to the shocking dismay of the North. Over 100,000 POWs were held here until officially "exchanged" and returned to their Union regiments. Idle men created numerous problems in camp management as men would drink, fight and gamble. Today the area is home to thousands of Annapolitans, and the site of a regional shopping area.
Willard R. Mumford, Anne Arundel County Preservation Trust
In the spring 1864, the 9th Corps trained at Annapolis before joining Grant's Army of the Potomac in Virginia, including the first regiments of United States Colored Troops (USCT). In a letter to home dated March 26, 1864, Private E. K. Tamkins writes, "There is 2 Colored Regiments here one of them has 1400 men in it they make pretty good looking soldiers." Over 178,000 African Americans, the majority of whom had been former slaves, would serve in the USCT.