Getting to know an officer: Col. William Maulsby

Last time we looked at the early organization of the 1st PHB Infantry in the late summer of 1861. Three field officers were appointed to the command of the Regiment in August – Colonel William P. Maulsby, Lt. Colonel Charles Trail, and Major Lewis Firey. We’ll begin today’s post with a biographical overview of Colonel Maulsby.

William Pinkney Maulsby was born July 15, 1815 near Bel Air, in Harford County, Maryland. As a young man he studied law in Baltimore under the tutelage of John Nelson (who would later go on to serve as the US Attorney General). In 1835 William married John Nelson’s daughter, Emily, and embarked on a legal and political career. Upon the creation of Carroll County in 1837 he represented the county first as a state senator, then as a state’s attorney. By 1850 he had moved his family to Baltimore before again moving westward, this time to Frederick. In 1856 Maulsby purchased “Prospect Hall,” a large Greek Revival style mansion just south of the city.


Prospect Hall, Frederick, MD. Home of the Maulsby family from 1856-1864 and currently a Catholic preparatory school. Prospect Hall has a fascinating Civil War history of its own, being the location where General George Meade assumed command of the Army of the Potomac in July, 1863. (Photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Trust)

The Maulsbys were living at Prospect Hall when war broke out in 1861. William soon earned a reputation as a loyal unionist. In January 1861 William delivered a pro-union address at the home of Lewis Dill in Frederick, who raised a liberty pole in his yard to the approval of a large crowd of Frederick citizens (1). In May 1861 William took command of a local unionist militia known as the”Brengle Home Guards” and later that month he took part in the raising of another Liberty Pole in Burkittsville, giving patriotic speeches alongside future PHB officer nominee Lewis Firey (2). The then 46 year old attorney was first commissioned a Colonel in command of the 16th Regiment of the Maryland militia (3). Later in August he received a Colonel’s commission and command of the 1st Regiment of the Potomac Home Brigade Infantry, and his 18 year old son, William Jr. was commissioned 1st Lieutenant and served as his adjutant.

William continued to command the Regiment for the next three years, leading his men at Harper’s Ferry, Gettysburg, Monocacy, and countless smaller skirmishes. After leaving the army he sold Prospect Hall and moved to downtown Frederick, to a home on East Second Street (4). Despite his service to the Union William Maulsby earned the wrath of many Republicans in the post-war years due to his affiliation with the Democratic party and his leniency towards the defeated rebels (5). In 1866 Maulsby ran for congress against non other than Francis Thomas, founder of the Potomac Home Brigade. The Republican leaning Frederick Examiner assured its readers that the former members of the Brigade would support Thomas over the “Copperhead” Maulsby; in the end they may have been right, as Thomas won the seat by over 2,000 votes (6). After losing the election of 1866 Maulsby continued his career as a judge and eventually moved to Westminster, Md. He died there in 1894 and is buried (along with many of his former officers and soldiers) in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick.


Grave of Col. William P. Maulsby, Mt. Olivet Cemetery, Frederick (Photo by author)



1 “Liberty Pole” Frederick Examiner 23 January 1861

2 “Flag Presentation” The Valley Register 10 May 1861; “Pole Raising” The Valley Register 17 May 1861

3″Military Appointment” The Valley Register 2 August 1861

4 “For Sale” The Republican Citizen 19 January 1866

5 “Remember” Frederick Examiner 3 October 1866; “Anybody in the Road?” Frederick Examiner 17 October 1866

6 “Maulsby vs Thomas” Frederick Examiner 24 October 1866; “Official Results of the Election in the 4th Congressional District” Westminster Democratic Advocate 22 November 1866

2 thoughts on “Getting to know an officer: Col. William Maulsby

  1. Pingback: “Shot Through the Head and Seriously Wounded”/Field Dispatch: Mt Olivet Cemetery | A River Divided

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