Memorial Day and the boys of Kenduskeag

It’s easy to miss them, even on a Memorial Day weekend. The boys of Kenduskeag lie quietly, eternally, behind the metal fence separating Village Cemetery from traffic on the adjacent Levant Road. It curves slightly while sliding past the cemetery; a driver paying attention to the road may not really notice this rural cemetery in […]

A nurse goes to war, Part 3: “My mother and my sister … are in the next room”

After arriving at Savage Station on Friday, June 13, 1862, nurses Sarah Sampson of Bath and Ellen Orbison Harris of Philadelphia started caring for sick and wounded Union soldiers. Not all were found in Army hospitals set up near Savage Station. The warm and colorful Virginia spring passed into early summer as the nurses spread […]

Honoring our slain heroes circa 2018 or 1863

Fifteen decades since the Civil War, some things have not changed for Mainers, especially the way we honor our slain heroes. On a sunny and warm Monday, May 7, 2018, hundreds of people gathered along Route 2 either side of the green-and-white Newport/Palmyra boundary sign to glimpse a passing hero. Twelve days ago, Corporal Eugene […]

A nurse goes to war, Part 2: Sarah Sampson hitches a ride to the front lines

During her initial days spent working as a nurse at White House Landing on the Pamunkey River, Sarah Sampson of Bath cared for many 3rd Maine soldiers. Aboard the steamer Elm City she nursed Brig. Gen. Charles Jameson, the initial commander of the 2nd Maine Infantry. “Ill with the fever that terminated his life,” Jameson […]

A nurse goes to war, Part 1 — “such suffering and confusion I never before witnessed”

After receiving a telegram on Wednesday, May 7, 1862, Bath nurse Sarah Sampson hurried to the war zone, which in that far-away spring was Virginia’s so-called “Peninsula.” What she saw and did there launched her into history as a 3rd Maine Infantry Regiment legend. Sarah Sampson had traveled with her husband, Lt. Col. Charles A.L. […]

Joe Hooker takes command, and Maine boys notice, part II

The arrival of Joe Hooker at Army of the Potomac headquarters in late January 1863 stirred interest, trepidation, and many questions. Within weeks he instituted morale-building improvements that restored the army’s elan. “Never was the magic influence of a single man more clearly shown than when Hooker assumed command,” said Capt. Charles P. Mattocks of […]

Maine boys notice when Joe Hooker takes command, part I

Despite all the immorality-related baggage (drinking, carousing with prostitutes, etc.) historically associated with him, Joseph Hooker helped save the Union in winter 1863. Abraham Lincoln could have done worse than replace Ambrose Burnside with Hooker, at least in the months prior to Chancellorsville. In the regimental camps sprinkled across Stafford County opposite Fredericksburg, morale all […]

The Soldierly Monument, Part 4

Stephen Decatur Carpenter had been dead 5½ months and in his grave some four months when Bangor residents dedicated the monument erected initially to honor him — and ultimately all of the Queen City’s war dead. And the thousands of people who gathered to honor all their heroes saw the war come home that particular […]

The soldierly monument, Part 3

With the body of slain Army Maj. Stephen Decatur Carpenter finally arriving home in Bangor, local officials wondered what could be done to honor their hero. On Saturday evening, February 7, 1862 the Bangor City Council met in special session to resolve “that the Mayor and Two Aldermen … be a committee to procure a […]

Volunteers needed at two Maine sites for Park Day 2018

Civil War buffs and history fans can help spruce up two war-related sites in Maine as the Civil War Trust sponsors Park Day 2018. The CWT website, www.civilwar.org, describes Park Day as “an annual hands-on volunteer event to help Civil War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812 battlefields and historic sites shine their brightest.” Volunteers […]