The monumental soldier, Part 2

The Maine soldier responsible for the construction of the nation’s first privately funded Civil War monument trekked from battlefield to battlefield across the Upper South before returning to the Pine Tree State. Amidst the miserable weather engulfing the Shiloh battlefield after sunset on April 6, 1862, the 19th U.S. Infantry regulars commanded by Stephen Decatur […]

The monumental soldier, Part I

If you like monuments, Civil War veterans created more than you can imagine — — and an unsung Maine soldier spawned the first privately erected Civil War monument in the United States. The tale begins in Foxcroft in Piscataquis County and ends not that far away. Susan (Heald) Carpenter bore her husband, Joshua, a son […]

Dead man walking gets promoted

With all the lead flying, a savage battle like Chancellorsville brought promotion for an aspiring young officer or NCO, especially if a bullet struck the right place … on someone else. Absent when his 17th Maine Infantry Regiment fought with III Corps and Daniel Sickles in the fields and woods comprising the Chancellorsville battlefield, Col. […]

Portland soldier writes about a loss and love

Having survived the Battle of Chancellorsville, George F. Moulton of the 17th Maine Infantry had a greater concern than the horrors of battle when he wrote “My Dear Mother” from “Camp Sickles near Bell Plain” on Wednesday, May 20, 1863. Eighteen and single when he mustered with the 17th Maine Infantry at Portland on August […]

The Confederate Yankee of Belfast

Just when you think every Maine-buried Confederate has been located, another one pops up. This time, however, the Confederate — George J. Grotton — became a Mainer. His tale begins with his birth in Lombard, Spain on August 22, 1835. His father was a Spaniard, his mother a Maine girl born in Lewiston. Arriving in […]

Suicide by ship

Six weeks after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, did the Civil War claim yet another victim aboard a Maine-bound steamer? Launched in 1863, the side-wheel steamship Katahdin stopped at various Maine ports while plying a regular round-trip route between Bangor and Boston. Late day on Friday, May 19, 1865, crewmen slipped the Katahdin’s hawsers at a […]

Emancipation: An opportunity for promotion

The Emancipation Proclamation turned on the manpower spigot for the new black regiments forming at various locations in the United States. Since only whites could serve as officers in those regiments, many white soldiers sought higher status and pay by lobbying for commissions in the new units. Even discharged soldiers got in on the act. […]

Emancipation: Free the blacks, if only to save the whites

Sworn into office as Maine’s governor in early January 1863, Abner Coburn of Skowhegan strongly supported raising black regiments — and not just for applying more pressure on the struggling Confederacy. Enlisting “the negroes for armed service in holding Southern ‘forts, positions and stations’ will be an immeasurable relief to the population of the North,” […]

Help erect a Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley

Help erect a Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley If you’ve ever buzzed through the Shenandoah Valley on Interstate 81, you can appreciate the incredibly beautiful natural surroundings. There are the Blue Ridge Mountains, Massanutten, the Luray Valley, and the farms and rolling fields and hills reaching far away from I-81 and the parallel Valley […]

Emancipation: The Maine press reacts, Part 2

Having printed the Emancipation Proclamation in its entirety and without acerbic commentary in the January 9, 1863 edition of his Republican Journal, publisher William H. Simpson understood that an influx of black soldiers would buttress the Union’s battle- and disease-thinned ranks. More Union soldiers and sailors meant more military pressure applied to Confederate defenders already […]