Maine Legislature supports placing state monument at Third Winchester

The Maine Legislature has approved a resolution supporting the placement of a Maine monument at the Third Winchester Battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley. Fund-raising efforts for the monument are being coordinated by the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation. (Brian F. Swartz Photo)

The Maine Legislature has announced its support for placing a Maine monument on a Shenandoah Valley battlefield where several Maine units fought on September 19, 1864.

On February 28, 2019 the Maine Senate adopted Senate Resolution 304, titled “Joint resolution to express support for erecting a monument to Maine troops who fought in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War.” Introduced by State Sen. Erin Herbig (D-Waldo), SR304 has five other sponsors.

After the Maine House of Representatives passed the resolution in early March, it went to Governor Janet Mills for her signature.

Based in New Market, Va., the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is raising money to site the monument at the Third Winchester Battlefield, according to SVBF Chairman Nicholas Picerno. “This is a campaign begun in large part by Civil War historians Peter and Cyndi Dalton of Northport, Maine,” he told Maine at War.

One day we discussed the fact that there were two (soon to be three) monuments on the preserved Third Winchester battlefield that commemorate action by Confederate troops. However, there are no monuments to Union troops,” said Picerno, also the nation’s leading expert on the 1st, 10th, and 29th Maine infantry regiments.

There is blood of Maine men that forever consecrates that battlefield land, and those men should be both remembered and revered,” he said.

My interest is in the 29th Maine Infantry,” Picerno pointed out. Their commanding officer was mortally wounded in the Middle Field [at Third Winchester], and the brigade commander, General George Lafayette Beal, prior to his promotion to general, was colonel of the 29th Maine.

He led his brigade into the tumultuous and enfilading field of fire that eventually resulted in the withdrawal of Confederate troops. Maine was there and left behind both sacrifice and valor,” Picerno stated.

According to Peter Dalton, there are several reasons why the monument will be placed at Third Winchester and not at the nearby Cedar Creek battlefield, where the 29th Maine and other Maine units fought in October 1864.

Third Winchester “is a new and expanding battlefield,” Dalton said. The Maine regiments “fought … in close proximity to each other,” so “is easy to dedicate a monument to all Maine regiments at one location in the Middle Field.”

And Third Winchester “is the only battlefield in the Valley where a national cemetery actually rests upon part of the original battlefield. Maine’s casualties are buried there,” Dalton said.

He contacted Herbig “as she has been a friend and has always been very approachable as a member of the [Maine] House. I emailed her asking if she would support such a proposal and she very quickly said, ‘Yes.’

The resolution is very important in having the State of Maine officially recognize the sacrifice of these Maine men in the Shenandoah Valley,” Dalton said.

Picerno welcomes the passage of SR304. “To my knowledge, no state legislature has resolved to place a monument on any preserved Civil War battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley,” he indicated. “Maine will lead the nation in recognizing the sacrifices of its sons during the most pivotal time of our country’s history.

Maine is poised to do so on the largest preserved Civil War battlefield in the Shenandoah Valley,” Picerno said. “When Joshua Chamberlain gave his immortal speech in 1888, he uttered in part these words, ‘On great fields, something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear; but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls.’

Though at that time he was referring to the Gettysburg battlefield, those words hold true for Third Winchester as well,” Picerno said. “When one visits the battlefield at Third Winchester and gazes upon its bucolic fields, it. Too. is a ‘vision place for souls,’ and men from Maine contributed to that vision.”

Estimating that the monument project could cost “as much as $10,000,” Dalton noted that “ we have raised nearly $6000 in total now.” Backers also hope to establish a $1,000 perpetual care fund.

We hope this resolution [304] will stimulate our funding efforts to pay for this monument,” Picerno indicated. “The Daltons and others have been very generous, but more is needed to complete this project.”

Donations for the Maine monument at Third Winchester can be made to: Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, Attn. Maine Monument Fund, PO Box 897, 9386 S. Congress St., New Market, Va. 22844.

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.