Mount Hope Cemetery walking tour will launch Civil War weekend in Bangor

The kick-off event for Drums on the Penobscot: A Civil War Experience will be “Soldiers at Rest,” a Civil War Walking Tour of Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor. The tour will begin at the superintendent’s office at 6 p.m., Friday, July 28. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

A Civil War walking tour of Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor will kick off Drums on the Penobscot: A Civil War Experience, slated to be held Friday-Sunday, July 28-30 in Bangor.

Led by historian Ryan Hews and titled Soldiers at Rest, the Civil War walking tour will begin at 6 p.m., Friday, July 28. Visitors will meet at the Mount Hope superintendent’s office (accessible from State Street). The price is $10.00 per person. Bring a camera and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Mount Hope is chock-a-block-full of Civil War sites and personalities. At least four Maine regiments, including the 2nd Maine Infantry and the ill-fated 1st Maine Heavy Artillery (originally the 18th Maine Infantry) mustered at Bangor.

Local heroes killed in action on far-flung battlefields arrived home for burial at Mount Hope Cemetery on State Street. Cenotaphs honor other men left buried far from Bangor.

Among the war-related sites at the cemetery are:

The Civil War sites at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor include the 2nd Maine Infantry monument, funded by veteran Luther H. Peirce. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

• The artistically unique monument to the “Second Maine Regiment of Volunteers,” provided by Luther H. Peirce, “a member of that regiment.” The monument is located just to the left inside the cemetery’s main entrance on State Street.

As well designed as any regiment memorial at Gettysburg, the monument features the Angel of Death ferrying a slain soldier heavenward. “Not painlessly doth God recast and mould anew the nation” reads the inscription beneath the metal angel and soldier.

• A short distance to the northeast stands the monolithic Soldiers’ Monument, dedicated by Bangoreans in 1864 “in memory of our citizen soldiers who died for their country.”

Civic leaders decided to locate the monument beside the graves of Maj. Stephen Decatur Carpenter and his toddler son, John. A regular Army officer, Carpenter was commanding an infantry regiment when a savage battle erupted at Murfreesboro, Tenn. on Dec. 31, 1862. Shot dead from his horse, he was later embalmed and sent home for burial next to his boy.

The Soldiers’ Monument was dedicated in 1864 to Bangor men who had died during the Civil War. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

When other family members learned about plans for the monument, they had Carpenter and his son relocated elsewhere in Mount Hope Cemetery. Near the Carpenters lies Harris Plaisted, who commanded the 11th Maine Infantry Regiment and later served as the governor of Maine.

• The Grand Army of the Republic fort, located near the cemetery’s Mt. Hope Avenue entrance.

Among the Civil War personages buried at Mount Hope Cemetery are Vice President Hannibal Hamlin and his brigadier-general sons, Charles and Cyrus; Dr. Augustus Choate Hamlin (the VP’s nephew); Col. Daniel Chaplin of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery; anti-Republican newspaper publisher Marcellus Emery; and Reverend Henry C. Henries who, while a chaplain at an Annapolis hospital, kept Mainers informed about Joshua L. Chamberlain and his wound in 1864.

Henries and Capt. John Ayer, wounded and captured at Fredericksburg, lie next to the Soldiers’ Monument. Ayer died in a Confederate prison.

Practically rubbing elbows are Maj. William Pitcher and 19-year-old Sgt. Charles H Whittier Killed at Fredericksburg, Pitcher came home to Bangor to receive a massive funeral. Whittier died on June 28, 1864 “of wounds received in battle before Petersburg.” His stone may be a cenotaph.

Perhaps the most poignant Civil War grave at Mount Hope Cemetery belongs to Maj. Stephen Decatur Carpenter, killed in Tennessee on Dec. 31, 1862. His embalmed body was shipped to Bangor and buried beside that of his 9-month-old son, John.

Letters written by Maj. George Means Brown and published by the Daily Whig & Courier in late spring 1862 revealed the disaster that befell the 1st Maine Cavalry at Middletown in Virginia. Not far from Brown’s grave, the name of Isaac W. Dean “of Co. H, 2nd Me. Vols.” is inscribed on the Dean family monument. Isaac “died in hospital” in Virginia in mid-January 1862.

A flag flies at the Mount Hope Cemetery grave of naval officer Charles Thatcher, killed in action in 1864. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Across from the superintendent’s office stand the headstones of brothers (and Navy veterans) Caleb B. and Charles A. Thatcher. The latter was killed in action “near the mouth of the Red River” in Louisiana while commanding the gunboat USS Gazelle on Nov. 26, 1864.

So many other Civil War veterans are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery that the July 28 walking tour cannot take them all in. James H. Cutler served with the 9th Maine Infantry, John Green with the 11th Maine Infantry (his headstone lies flat on the ground), Norris N. Pierce and Charles H. Pond with the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, and James T. Sawyer with the 1st Minnesota Infantry (there has got to be a story there).

Meet many of Bangor’s heroes by joining the Civil War walking tour on Friday, July 28. Then head to the UMA-Bangor campus off Maine Avenue at Bangor International Airport to enjoy the other activities taking place during this Civil War weekend.

Join Maine at War in Bangor on July 28-30, as the Bangor Historical Society presents Drums on the Penobscot: A Civil War Experience at the UMA-Bangor campus off Maine Avenue. The exciting weekend will feature a military encampment, skirmishes, a parade, quilt historian Pamela Weeks and other guest speakers, the trial and execution of a uniformed deserter, and the opportunity to meet Joshua and Fanny Chamberlain. 

For more details, log onto http://www.bangorhistoricalsociety.org/drums-on-the-penobscot-a-civil-war-experience/

Brian Swartz can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net. He enjoys 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.