He had come north from Boston to tour Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and Mainers had welcomed him as the national hero he was. Now, seated in a stylish barouche with Maine Gov. Joshua L. Chamberlain, Maine Adjutant Gen. John Caldwell, and Augusta Mayor Patterson, Sheridan watched as the parade units escorting him to the State House stepped off on Commercial Street in Augusta in late morning, Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1867.
Brig. Gen. George Lafayette Beal, a Norway native who fought throughout the war and had served in the Shenandoah Valley with Phil Sheridan, led as the parade marshal.
Units participating in the parade included the Augusta band; two firefighting companies from Augusta and one apiece from Gardiner and Hallowell; the Knights Templar (“in uniform” and “mounted”); companies A and B, Maine State Guards, from Bangor; the Bangor Cornet Band; “veterans, on foot”; and a “Cavalcade of Citizens.”
Starting at Commercial Street, the parade units turned east on Bridge Street and then veered south on Water Street. Turning west onto Green Street, the marchers proceeded uphill to State Street and then turned north toward Bridge Street.
The convoluted route took Sheridan et al tthrough the heart of Augusta, that area from State Street downhill to the Kennebec River considered now, as then, to be the city’s “downtown.” American flags adorned many houses, and a reporter noticed the “appropriate mottoes” printed on various banners.
“Hail to the Chief” read one message, “Sheridan and Chamberlain at Five Forks” another. “Ireland Stands for the Flag” proclaimed a banner strung at one house.
Onlookers cheered loudly as “Little Phil” passed. “Crowds of people thronged every street [while] giving demonstrations of welcome to the gallant Sheridan,” a reporter observed.
From State Street, the barouche turned east onto Bridge Street; Sheridan perhaps wondered if he saw certain faces in the crowd for the second time. The barouche then turned south on Commercial Street (misidentified as “Chestnut” by an out-of-town reporter) and finally turned west on Winthrop Street.
The parade went up Winthrop to State Street, “where a stage was prepared, on which over a hundred school children, under the direction of Mr. Bangs, sung ‘Sheridan’s Ride,’” noted a reporter.
Then the parade proceeded south toward the State House. The Augusta rotaries not existing then (and many people wish they did not today), Sheridan and Chamberlain rode directly through the Western Avenue intersection to the Capitol.
The image lingers that the parade units hustled, because Sheridan was scheduled to depart for Concord, N.H. at 12 noon. He and Chamberlain reached the State House and spoke “to the large concourse that had assembled in front,” with people spilling across State Street into Capitol Park.
Chamberlain spoke briefly, his remarks recorded in two paragraphs by the press. As for listening veterans, “too many of you followed his (Sheridan’s) bright ensign in the Valley, at Appomattox, Cedar Mountain and Five Forks,” Chamberlain said.
Sheridan “was our country’s defender in time of war,” and “he has been true to her in time of peace,” Chamberlain said. “We bid welcome to the State and to this Capitol the hero who cut short the war one year.”
“I thank you very kindly for this cordial greeting,” Sheridan responded. “I regret that I cannot find words to express my gratitude.
“The remarks you have made in regard to my record are the more highly prized because [they are] coming from a soldier with a record like yours,” he spoke directly to Chamberlain.
After the customary “introductions and handshakings,” at least some parade units reformed to escort Sheridan and his staff to the depot. More cheers erupted there, the train chugged south for Portland, and invited guests joined Chamberlain for dinner at the Augusta House.
“The General looks like the man of pluck and energy that he is, but his trip seems to be having its effect on him,” commented a reporter afterwards. “He says himself that this is the hardest campaign he ever had.
“Very highly pleased” with the state guardsmen, Chamberlain “requested them them to wait upon him at the Augusta House,” the Bangor reporter noted. Chamberlain praised the guardsmen “for their excellent drill and discipline.”
Their stomachs full with the Augusta House fare and “highly pleased with their excursion,” the Bangoreans “returned home in the regular train, arriving at nine o’clock” at the Front Street depot in Bangor, a reporter commented.
As for Sheridan, the slight delay in leaving Augusta evidently echoed down the railroad line. Slated to arrive in Concord Tuesday night, he reached “the Granite Capitol” at 6:30 a.m., Wednesday, after “all the military companies and visitors had returned to their homes,” groused a New Hampshire dispatch picked up by a Bangor newspaper.
The Concord mayor delivered “a short speech, to which he (Sheridan) made no response,” noted a Concord reporter. Escorted to the State House, Sheridan barely arrived when “a general melee ensued, and the General was rushed to the residence of Hon. Onslow Stearns.”
Sheridan “in a short speech thanked the crowd” and packed it in for the night, the reporter wrote.
“Great indignation is manifested at the failure of the General to arrive as was arranged,” the reporter hissy-fitted. “Someone must be accountable for it.”
“Serenaded” at 9 p.m., Wednesday in Concord, Sheridan left for Vermont Thursday morning.
Source: Daily Whig & Courier, Wednesday, October 30, 1867
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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.