A reasonable offer could bring a Civil War veteran “home” to Maine

Mark R. Dawson, a Civil War author, has come into possession of the matted and framed Civil War veterans' testimonial issued to John B. Allen on July 4, 1868. The testimonial bears the signature of Governor Joshua L. Chamberlain. Mark would like to find a good home in Maine for this interesting document. (Courtesy of Mark R. Dawson)

Mark R. Dawson, a Civil War author, has come into possession of the matted and framed Civil War veterans’ testimonial issued to John B. Allen on July 4, 1868. The testimonial bears the signature of Governor Joshua L. Chamberlain. Mark would like to find a good home in Maine for this interesting document. (Courtesy of Mark R. Dawson)

A bit of Maine-related Civil War history is looking to come home to the Pine Tree State.
During his tenure as Maine’s governor, Joshua L. Chamberlain instituted a printed testimonial for Maine veterans seeking a paper memorial of their wartime service.

Qualified veterans — they had to prove their veterans’ status, but Maine made it easier than did the federal government when veterans applied for disability pensions — submitted their requests to the Governor’s Office. The testimonials were dated July 4, 1868.

The testimonial (we could call it a “certificate”) was a standard, but sharp- and official looking document suitable for display. Emblazoned with Chamberlain’s photo at the top and David Farragut (representing the Navy) and Ulysses S. Grant (ditto the Army) to left and right respectively, the testimonial also featured the Maine State Seal (depicted on more than one regimental battle flag during the war) and artwork of the Monitor and Merrimac whaling away at each other and a Union army passing in review.

The July 4, 1868 veterans' testimonial issued to Maine soldier John B. Allen displays the signature of Governor Joshua L. Chamberlain. (Courtesy of Mark R. Dawson)

The July 4, 1868 veterans’ testimonial issued to Maine soldier John B. Allen displays the signature of Governor Joshua L. Chamberlain. (Courtesy of Mark R. Dawson)

Each testimonial displayed the signatures of Chamberlain and Adjutant General John Caldwell. These signatures are printed with the master document, not hand-written.

Mark R. Dawson, author of “Ho! For the War! A History of the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry,” has a July 4, 1868 testimonial issued to John B. Allen. “I was told he was from Machias,” Mark informs Maine at War.

The testimonial “is in pristine condition, handsomely matted, with museum glass, and [is] in its original frame,” writes Mark, who says that “my only Maine connection is that my father taught math at Bowdoin during the 1948-49 academic year.”

He thinks that the framed testimonial “ought to return to Maine.” Any Civil War buff interested in helping John B. Allen to “come home” can contact Mark at lexcalj@msn.com.

“Any reasonable offer considered,” he says.

Brian Swartz can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net. He loves hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.

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 jibe with Civil War reality. I can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net.