Help erect a Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley

Massanutten Mountain rises dramatically above the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia (above). Its rich soil and productive farms (below) lent the Valley the nickname of “Breadbasket of the Confederacy” during the Civil War. Six Maine units participated in Phil Sheridan’s 1864 Valley Campaign to destroy that breadbasket. A fund-raising campaign now seeks to place a monument to those Maine units on the Third Winchester battlefield. (Brian F. Swartz Photos)

Help erect a Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley

If you’ve ever buzzed through the Shenandoah Valley on Interstate 81, you can appreciate the incredibly beautiful natural surroundings. There are the Blue Ridge Mountains, Massanutten, the Luray Valley, and the farms and rolling fields and hills reaching far away from I-81 and the parallel Valley Pike (Route 11).

Oriented southwest to northwest, the Valley witnessed marching armies and bloody battles during the Civil War. Maine boys marched (or rode) up and down the Valley (based on the directional flow of the Shenandoah River) and fought in many places.

Now we have the opportunity to honor the heroes of Maine by erecting a monument to those units participating in Phil Sheridan’s 1864 Valley Campaign.

Peter Dalton, a Northport resident, is spearheading an effort to raise funds for a granite monument dedicated to the 1st Maine Veteran Infantry (not to be mistaken with the 1st Maine Infantry of 1861), the 12th Maine Infantry, the 14th Maine Infantry, the 29th Maine Infantry, and the 1st and 5th Maine artillery batteries.

Six Maine units fought in the Shenandoah in autumn 1864 during Phil Sheridan’s Valley Campaign. Severe fighting took place across these fields at Cedar Creek. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

Fighting at Third Winchester and Cedar Creek in autumn 1864, these units suffered a cumulative 665 casualties, including 68 men killed. Many Mainers were later interred at the national cemetery in Winchester.

Dalton, a former Civil War re-enactor and a long-time member of Richardson’s Civil War Round Table in Searsport, offers professional guide services pertaining to Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s 1862 Valley Campaign. Dalton is also well-versed in Sheridan’s 1864 campaign and the roles played by Maine soldiers.

“As you visit these many battlefields in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley one thing becomes painfully clear: There are no permanent monuments to the sacrifice of these brave Maine heroes on any of these battlegrounds,” Dalton says.

“Currently there is an opportunity to place a lasting memorial to these Maine soldiers on the largest of these battlefields,” he points out. “The contest of which I speak was the Third Battle of Winchester, which was fought on September 19, 1864.

“In this fight more than 230 Maine men became casualties, and nowhere is there an undying testament to their bravery and sacrifice,” Dalton notes.

In cooperation with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (a very worthwhile Civil War battlefield preservation group based in New Market), a fund-raising effort is under way to raise the $4,500 to fund a Maine monument for placement on the Third Winchester battlefield. Supporters have already raised more than $1,000, and an additional $3,500 is needed.

You can support this monumental campaign by:

• Contributing online at https://www.gofundme.com/monument-to-maine-soldiers;

• Sending a check to the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, PO Box 897, 9386 S. Congress St., New Market, Va. 22844. Please, write “Maine Monument” in your note on your check.

“Thanks very much for your consideration and thanks very much for helping to keep the memory of these men and their units upon the battlefields in which they fought, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia,” Dalton says.

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.