James R. Randall Declines to Forward a Copy of "My Maryland!" and Explains the Origin of His Poem about Stonewall Jackson "The Lone Sentry"
Autograph Letter Signed, "JRR," 4 pages, 8" x 10" Baltimore, June 10, 1896 mentioning his anthem, "My Maryland," and discussing the origin of his poem, "The Lone Sentry." Moderately toned with horizontal creases, some very minor marginal wear, page mounted to a larger sheet, overall very good.
An interesting and amusing letter from Randall to an unnamed correspondent in which the poet declines to offer a fair copy of his patriotic anthem, "My Maryland," but offers an explanation of his Civil War poem, "The Lone Sentry":
"I enclose two poems. Get 'My Maryland' out of The Century magazine for June 1887, I think or from Stedman's volumes. I am too lazy to copy it and it has become a terror from frequent application. I do not know Mr. Turning. It my be necessary to explain the Lone Sentry thus: 'At the beginning of Stonewall Jackson's career – before his mighty battles had been fought — he had made, with his army a forced march. When the men were halted for bivouac, they were worn out and went to sleep. An officer reported this to Jackson and asked him if he should awaken some of them to perform sentry duty. He answered: 'No, let them sleep. I will watch the camp tonight.' The poem was written fast after his death, and based upon this characteristic anecdote."
Randall then turns to his own personal fortunes, as well as his opposition to the election of William McKinley and his support of the free coinage of silver: "I have made a persistent effort to get reappointed on the Senate roll, but, despite powerful influence, have failed. I apprehend that my goose is cooked in that direction. So, once more, in my old age, I am 'afflicted with poverty and acquainted with grief'; but my health is excellent and my spirit providentially sustained. As a veteran free coinage man I am delighted at the silver trial[?] here, and believe it will submerge McKinley..."
Journalist Henry P. Goddard, who worked with Randall in his later years observed that Randall, "always felt that circumstances prevented his developing his poetic genius and was somewhat sore about it... Randall had much of sorrow in his life, but of his devotion to the Christian faith of his historic church there is no shadow of doubt, and his name will ever be associated with that of the Maryland he loved so well...' (quoted in Calvin Goddard Zon, ed., The Good Fight That Didn't End, 2008, p. 282).
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