ROCKLAND — Approximately 100 people gathered at Winslow-Holbook-Merritt American Legion Post No. 1 on Limerock Street on Monday, July 3 to rededicate the monument consecrated to the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment in 1932.
With the sun shining that gorgeous evening, a steady southwesterly breeze stirred the flags and swept away the bugs. Directed by Marlene Hall, the Bay Winds Ensemble performed Civil War Suite, a medley of wartime music that helped set the mood for the 6 p.m. ceremony.
Raised in spring 1861, the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment drew its 1,000-plus men primarily from the Midcoast, with Rockland providing four 100-soldier companies. Serving with the Army of the Potomac, the regiment fought at First Manassas, Seven Pines, Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg and mustered out of federal service in spring 1864.
Captain David Sulin, a retired Merchant Marine skipper and active Civil War re-enactor who organized the July 3 ceremony, told people gathered beside the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial Wall that not until 1931 did an effort to create a monument “become a reality.” Elected that year as president of the Ruth Mayhew Tent of the Daughters of Union Veterans, Mrs. Eliza Plummer launched the fund-raising campaign that drew contributions large and small to fund the monument’s construction.
Maine’s own Adelbert Ames, the last surviving Civil War general, sent a check for $25.
Consisting of Maine-quarried granite and a bronze tablet, the monument was placed on city land on Talbot Avenue, now just behind the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial Wall. The monument faced the large area across Talbot Avenue that was known as Camp Knox when 4th Maine recruits camped there in 1861.
The monument was dedicated on June 16, 1932, while the Grand Army of the Republic held its state convention in Rockland.
Its location atop a rise on narrow Talbot Avenue placed both the monument and its visitors in vehicular jeopardy. The monument “has got some dings on it from snow plows” over the years, Sulin explained.
A few years ago, a local effort was made to relocate the 4th Maine monument to a safer location, said Louise MacLellan-Ruf, who was the Rockland mayor when the monument was moved to a location next to the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial Wall.
“Within 24 hours of the vote” by city councilors to relocate the monument, it was moved, MacLellan-Ruf said.
Several speakers addressed the crowd while a four-member Coast Guard color guard stood in front of the memorial wall. Morris Berry of the Department of Maine, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, delivered the opening prayer and also spoke about the history of the GAR and the SUV. Peter Ogden, a retired military officer and current chairman of the General Henry Knox Museum board, displayed a pistol owned by Joshua L. Chamberlain and the Medal of Honor awarded to Colonel Andrew Spurling of the 2nd Maine Cavalry Regiment.
Civil War historian and author Peter Dalton of Northport detailed the history of the 4th Maine Infantry. He has written two books about the regiment: Into the Valley of Death, which details the pivotal role of the 4th Maine at Devil’s Den during the battle of Gettysburg, and With Our Faces to the Foe, which traces the regiment’s three years of service.
Then onlookers watched as Sulin placed a wreath festooned with flowers and a small American flag on a metal stand next to the 4th Maine monument. The Bay Wind Ensemble played The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and re-enactors from Co. B, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment, fired a tribute volley.
At the ceremony’s closing, an American Legion color guard fired three volleys, and Legion Post No. 1 chaplain David Franclemont delivered the closing prayer.
Buglers Chris Blum and Teri Crockett then played Taps, with Crockett echoing Blum’s stirring notes. Daniel Butterfield would not set the notes for Taps to paper until more than a year after the 4th Maine Infantry mustered into the Army.
Then the Coast Guard color guard marched through the crowd while retiring the colors. The breeze played out the gold-tassled American and Coast Guard flags as the ceremony ended.
The 4th Maine Infantry monument stands next to the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial Wall, located behind Post No. 1 at 335 Limerock Street. The grounds are open seven days a week.
Traffic still whizzes on nearby Talbot Street, but as for the 4th Maine monument, “now it’s in a safer location,” Dave Sulin said.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. He enjoys hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.