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Branches of Baltimore History

Sidney Lanier Monument in Charles Village

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3436 N Charles Street, Johns Hopkins University (Street View)

GPS: 39° 19′ 52.45″ N 76° 37′ 5.19″ W


Born in 1842, Sidney Lanier’s life was forever shaped by the Civil War. Upon graduating Oglethorpe College in Milledgeville, Georgia, the War Between the States broke out and Lanier enlisted in the Confederate Army. He was captured by Union soldiers near Wilmington, North Carolina, and placed at Point Lookout Prison in Saint Mary’s County, Maryland. Lookout was by far the worst Union POW camp, with bitter cold conditions and no barracks, the captured soldiers and civilians died by the scores.

Of the fifty thousand detainees, some four thousand perished, and countless others contracted tuberculosis. Lanier was not spared, and he left the jail skinny and emaciated, bound to suffer from consumption for the rest of his short life. Lanier wrote his only novel, Tiger Lilies, about his tumultuous time at Point Lookout.

After the Civil War he traveled extensively in search of a cure for his disease, eventually landing in Baltimore, where he was asked to fill the first flute chair in the newly formed Peabody Orchestra. In a letter to his wife, he expounds on the benefits of Charm City, explaining that they could “dwell in [this] beautiful city, among the great libraries, and [in the] midst of the music, the religion, and the art that we love–and I could write my books and be the man I wish to be.” He continued creating poetry and literary papers, writing some of his most loved pieces while in Baltimore.

Towards the end of his life, Lanier took a teaching position at Johns Hopkins University. He passed away in 1881 and is buried in Green Mount Cemetery. In 1942, a monument designed by Hans Schuler was dedicated in his honor.


The relief style monument depicts Lanier sitting tranquilly under a tree as the sun sets behind him. He is holding a pencil in his right hand and has a journal on his lap. His flute rests next to him on top of an open book. The bronze cast is set into a stone embankment, making this one of the more unique memorials in the city. There are two benches flanking the monument, and a stone path between them, allowing for an intimate view of the structure.



Written by monumentcity

March 17th, 2009 at 11:24 am