Ask many Baltimoreans what 1861 means to them and you might discover that their high-school history classes were all spent doodling and daydreaming.
But it was right in downtown Baltimore, between two places close to my heart personally, that the first blood was shed in April of 1861 in America's Civil War, as federal troops marched from the President Street station to board another train at Camden Station. Only a few generations later, what is now the small Civil War Museum on President Street was a long fly ball down the left field line on a waterfront diamond where kids from Little Italy like myself played baseball. And, of course, Camden Station is now Camden Yards, the home of my beloved O's and Geppi's Entertainment Museum.
What followed that historic 1861 riot was a wrenching, four-year struggle that broke the nation in two, then forcibly reunited it, all to end the brutality of slavery (a major Baltimore trade for 200 years). The world's first modern war—decided by telegraph wires, trains, iron ships, and mass-produced weapons—it decimated America's young men, costing 600,000 lives in a nation of only 30 million (that's like 6 million today). To mark the 150th anniversary, senior editor Evan Serpick partnered with author Daniel Carroll Toomey in "Baltimore and The Civil War," a story about the pivotal role played by both the city and the state in determing the war's eventual outcome. Art director Amanda White Iseli worked with the Maryland Historical Society to bring the story to life visually, with the help of photography director David Colwell's images of period memorabilia.
1861 really wasn't that long ago—our great-grandfathers might have witnessed it. And its legacy—of emancipation, of north-south bitterness, and of a suddenly powerful federal government—will remain important for a very long time.
There's a lot more in this issue, but be sure not to flip past Serpick's "The Ultimate Neighborhod Guide," which takes our top 'hoods tradition to a new level, with locals offering insider tips on the best shopping, restaurants, and attractions in each of 10 great neighborhoods.
And, it being April, there's also something for that stubbornly optimistic bunch known as Orioles fans. This April, though, there seems to be more cause for optimism than in recent years—because of Buck.
Manager William Nathaniel "Buck" Showalter isn't the only brand-name upgrade the team's gotten, either. There's also veteran slugger Vladimir Guerrero. But it's Buck who has clearly re-energized the club. As contributor Mike Unger illustrates in "The Buck Stops Here," Showalter is an intense micromanager who, despite great success, has ruffled some feathers over the years. But his track record of making winning changes to underachieving teams almost overnight is legendary.
The excitement fans feel this time around is palpable. As one fan's T-shirt announced at a game last fall, "In Buck We Trust."