Bangor to host national event in honor of 1st Maine Heavy Artillery

Long after the Civil War ended, survivors of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment erected a monument on the Petersburg, Va. battlefield. The monument honors the regiment's members who fell during a June 18, 1864 charge against the Confederate lines. (Brian Swartz Photo)

Long after the Civil War ended, survivors of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment erected a monument on the Petersburg, Va. battlefield. The monument honors the regiment’s members who fell during a June 18, 1864 charge against the Confederate lines. (Brian Swartz Photo)

During a National Park Service-sponsored event titled “Reverberations — Commemorating the Overland Campaign,” Maine will honor a battle-shattered Civil War regiment as part of 11 observances taking place across the United States on Saturday, May 24.

“The purpose of this Civil War 150th event is to help people understand that the suffering on the battlefields in Virginia led to suffering in the communities, North and South, where the soldiers hailed from,” said Ann Blumenschine, a park ranger and the public information officer at Petersburg National Battlefield in Virginia.

“The last few years have seen huge 150th anniversary events at sites like Gettysburg and Antietam, but we felt it was important, again, for people to understand how those battles reached into towns and counties all over the nation,” she said.

The “Reverberations” observance to be held in Bangor will focus on the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment. Commanded by Col. Daniel Chaplin of Bangor, the regiment lost more than 600 men during an unsupported charge at Petersburg on June 18, 1864. A monument to the regiment is among the few monuments found at Petersburg today.

“Bangor was chosen as one of the 11 sites because the loss suffered by the men of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment was the worst loss of any single regiment in any single engagement of the entire Civil War,” Blumenschine said. “Most of the men of the 1st Maine came from towns in and around Bangor.”

Blumenschine contacted Holden authors Ned and Diane Smith in February and asked them to organize the “Reverberations” observance in Bangor. The Smiths have individually written several books about the Civil War.

The observance will emphasize “what happened on the battlefield, [and] how it impacted on the regiment and the people back home,” Diane Smith said.

The May 24 observance in Bangor will include:

• A 3 p.m. program with Blumenschine and the Smiths at the Bangor Public Library;

• A program that will begin at 8 p.m. at the Grand Army of the Republic fort at Mount Hope Cemetery. Volunteers will read the names of the men killed or mortally wounded during the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery’s charge; volunteers will also read letters sent to and from 1st MHA soldiers. A bugler will play “Taps” as a 9 p.m. candlelight ceremony concludes the evening’s program.

Two metal plaques inset in the rear of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment monument at Petersburg National Battlefield Park in Virginia identify the regiment's members either killed or mortally wounded during the unit's June 18, 1864 charge. (Brian Swartz Photo)

Two metal plaques inset in the rear of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment monument at Petersburg National Battlefield Park in Virginia identify the regiment’s members either killed or mortally wounded during the unit’s June 18, 1864 charge. (Brian Swartz Photo)

According to Blumenschine, other “Reverberations” observances will be held at:

• Litchfield, Conn., from which many men volunteered for the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery Regiment, which was shot to pieces during a June 1864 charge at Cold Harbor, Va.;

• Natchez, Miss.;

• Fort Sumter, S.C.;

• Camp Nelson at Nicholasville, Ky.;

• Wilmington, N.C.;

• Bowler, Wisc.;

 • Dearborn, Mich.

• Various locations in Virginia.

Ned and Diane Smith hope to find and invite to the May 24 observance some descendants of 1st Maine Heavy Artillery soldiers; according to Ned, at least eight such descendants have indicated their desire to attend.

Anyone with an ancestor who served in the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery is asked to contact the Smiths at smithnd@earthlink.net.

 

Brian Swartz

About Brian Swartz

Welcome to "Maine at War," the blog about the roles played by Maine and her sons and daughters in the Civil War. I am a Civil War buff and a newspaper editor recently retired from the Bangor Daily News. Maine sent hero upon hero — soldiers, nurses, sailors, chaplains, physicians — south to preserve their country in the 1860s. “Maine at War” introduces these heroes and heroines, who, for the most part, upheld the state's honor during that terrible conflict. We tour the battlefields where they fought, and we learn about the Civil War by focusing on Maine’s involvement with it. Be prepared: As I discover to this very day, the facts taught in American classrooms don’t always jive with Civil War reality. I can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net.