Obstinate Maine soldiers muck home: Mud March, part 3

Caught by a cold rain while attempting to outflank Robert E. Lee at Fredericksburg on January 20, 1863, Union soldiers, horses, and mules suffered immeasurably as the Ambrose Burnside-planned attack dissolved into the “Mud March.” With horses and mules unable to pull mud-stuck cannons, caissons, and wagons, Union infantrymen taking to the flooded roadside terrain […]

Even the weather fights the Yankees: Mud March, part 2

His direct assaults on Confederate-defended Fredericksburg handily repulsed in mid-December 1862, Ambrose Burnside decided to outflank Robert E. Lee’s dug-in veterans 5½ weeks later. Burnside planned to wheel his Army of the Potomac over the Rappahannock River to flank Lee’s army and force it to fight on open ground, where the Yankees could surely outmaneuver […]

Burnside rolls the dice to destroy his army: Mud March, part 1

His bloody ambition unquenched by the 12,500 soldiers sacrificed at Fredericksburg, Ambrose Burnside took another crack at Robert E. Lee in mid-January 1863. The resulting fiasco almost destroyed the Army of the Potomac, instead. “Words are inadequate to describe the scenes of that eventful campaign,” acerbically commented 1st Sgt. Edwin B. Houghton of Co. A, […]

Yakking about Lincoln sinks a Phippsburg officer

There’s a time to yap and a time to shaddup, as a promising Maine officer discovered in winter 1863. Having toyed with its wording for months, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in autumn 1862 and set January 1, 1863 as its effective date. All slaves in areas hostile to the United States government […]

Prickling sensation irritates a supposedly missing foot

Shot and wounded as the charging 20th Maine Infantry Regiment reached Confederate trenches at Saunders Field in the Wilderness on Thursday, May 5, 1864, Sgt. Charles H. Haynes of Ellsworth soon experienced a peculiar sensation. Striking his left leg “about five inches below the knee,” two lead bullets shattered leg bones, and a third bullet […]

“My Last Night at Fredericksburg,” a poem

Decades after the bloody fight at Fredericksburg, Va. on Saturday, Dec. 13, 1862, Col. Elijah Walker of the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment penned a poem recalling that unit’s last maneuvers on the battlefield. “My Last Night at Fredericksburg” Walker titled his poem, read by him at the regiment’s 1889 reunion. On Fredericksburg’s field, when fell […]

Al Williams escapes a Gettysburg grave, part 2

As the sun swung westward over Gettysburg on Thursday, July 2, 1863, Sgt. Albert N. Williams of Augusta likely kept watch over the men of Co. G, 19th Maine Infantry Regiment. Commanded by Col. Francis E. Heath, the Maine boys could see blue-colored South Mountain on the western horizon and the Codori Farm buildings much […]

Al Williams escapes a Gettysburg grave, part 1

President Abraham Lincoln delivers his 271-word “Gettysburg Address” during the Nov. 19, 1863 dedication of the new Soldiers’ National Cemetery under development on Cemetery Hill in Gettysburg. (National Park Service) Despite some 8 inches of snow dropped by what the Weather Fools dubbed “Winter Storm Avery” (real people don’t name snowstorms), the 155th anniversary of […]

Appointment with a Wilderness destiny, part 2

The enemy was close, way to close for comfort in midafternoon on Thursday afternoon, May 5, 1864. Sgt. Charles H. Haynes of Ellsworth and Co. E, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment stood with his comrades inside the treeline along the eastern edge of Saunders Field, a large opening amidst the scrub-entangled Wilderness in central Virginia. He […]

Appointment with a Wilderness destiny, part 1

Sgt. Charles H. Haynes of Ellsworth marched toward his appointment with destiny as he crossed the Rapidan River on a pontoon bridge around sunset on Wednesday, May 4, 1864. His life would change dramatically within 72 hours. Twenty-six when he enlisted in Co. I, 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment on December 13, 1861, the married Haynes […]