Charlottesville’s shadow swirled briefly around a Maine monument in mid-August.
Our gorgeous state boasts some 150 Civil War-related monuments of different shapes and styles. I’m photographing as many as possible this fine summer, so on a perfect-weather August weekday, we headed north to Lincoln.
This former mill town (it’s still hard to imagine the paper mill gone) boasts four war monuments in its compact downtown, stretching from the light at Main Street and West Broadway north to the Y-shaped intersection of Lee Road and Main Street. I know of no other Maine municipality with so many veterans’ monuments within such close proximity.
Dedicated in 1927 “in honor of the men of Lincoln who answered their country’s call to service in the world war,” the highly detailed World War I monument thrusts dramatically from the island at Main and West Broadway. Not many Great War monuments exist in Maine, and this one rates in the top few for its imagination and attention to historical detail.
The statue depicts an American doughboy advancing through the barbed wire and obstructions of No Man’s Land in Europe. Clasping his bayonet-tipped rifle in his left hand and grasping a grenade in his right hand, he charges the foe.
Across Main Street next to the Mattanawcook Lake gazebo lurks the humongous Lincoln Loon. Just north of this over-sized Gavia immer, about midway along the sidewalk between Lake and Mechanic streets, stands a monument dedicated to “the men and women of our community who served in the following wars: Spanish American, World War II, Korean, Vietnam.”
It’s a monument simple in its elegance.
Farther north and on the same side of Main Street stands, outside the Lincoln town office, stands the stone-and-bronze monument to Master Sgt. Gary Gordon, killed in action while trying to protect the crew of a downed Black Hawk helicopter in Mogadishu, Somalia on October 3, 1993. His heroism was depicted in the book and the movie Black Hawk Down.
A short distance to the north, on the traffic island at Lee Road and Main Street, stands the oldest of the local veterans’ monuments. Carved from gray Maine granite by stoneworkers at the Hallowell Granite Company, a mustachioed Union veteran peers south along Main Street from atop his granite pedestal.
Charles Stinchfield, a Lincoln resident who had moved west to Michigan, donated $2,500 to fund this monument, dedicated on July 4, 1887. It was “Erected In Honor Of The Men Of Lincoln Who Served Their Country In The War Which Preserved The Union, Destroyed Slavery And Maintained The Constitution.”
Back dropped (depending on the camera angle) by the First United Methodist Church of :Lincoln, the monument dominates its end of Main Street. I appreciate the fact that the great coat-clad Union warrior faces south; elsewhere in Maine, similar soldier statues face all around the compass rose.
The afternoon sunlight nicely illuminated the monument’s front, so I stood on the traffic island and took some wide angles and close ups with my Nikon that’s almost as old as the Civil War. Then a silver-gray pickup rolled up Lee Road to the stop sign. Perhaps in his mid-to-late 30s (everyone looks young at this stage in my life), the driver made eye contact with me through his rolled down window.
“They ain’t tearing that down, are they?” he asked, pointing to the monument.
Charlottesville’s shadow swirled suddenly and briefly around Lincoln’s Civil War monument — and it’s a long haul from Charlottesville in the Virginia Piedmont to Lincoln in the central Penobscot Valley.
“Probably not,” I responded. “He’s a Yankee.”
Brian Swartz can be reached at email@example.com. He enjoys hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.