All posts by Brian Swartz

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.

Democratic draft opponents thrash pro-Republican Grant in Prospect

  Did the first violent resistance against the draft in Maine occur, in of all places, Prospect? Bordered by modern routes 1, 1A, and 174, Prospect lies at the eastern tip of Waldo County, spreading across the hills to the bluffs along the Penobscot River Narrows. The town’s population was 709 in the 2010 federal […]

You’ve got the wrong guy in that coffin!

Stephen King could have penned the Somerset County horror story unfolding in mid-January 1863. At Pittsfield on the Sebasticook River, Reverend Ephraim Johnson and his wife, Abigail, had bid their two oldest sons, 23-year-old Franklin and 20-year-old Henry, “farewell” in the past few months. Farmers toiling the soils near the flood-prone Sebasticook, Ephraim and the […]

Local police chased criminal soldiers running amok in Bangor

Criminals camouflaged as soldiers briefly ran amok in Bangor in late summer 1862. Volunteers and draftees started reporting to Camp John Pope in early September. After forming at the camp, the 18th Maine Infantry Regiment had mustered into federal service on August 21, 1862. Local residents had enjoyed a good relationship with the soldiers. Not […]

A marching Maine regiment carried sight and sound into history

  To this day we cannot hear the actual sounds heard during the Civil War. Some particular sounds intrigue Civil War buffs; the apparently frightening “Rebel Yell” comes to mind, for example. Ironically, an “exclusive clip from the 1930s” in which aging Confederate veterans “step up to the mic and let out their version of […]

Sea-swaying steamer sends seasick sailors to the rail

  With recruiting seriously lagging in late summer 1862, the War Department authorized Maine and other loyal states to raise nine-month regiments. Rather than sign up three years or until the war’s end, as had the men recently enlisted in the 16th through 20th infantry regiments, men joining the nine-month regiments would serve only 270 […]

Confederate pirates learn not to mess with a Maine woman

  Believing she was threatened with rape, a Maine woman turned the tables on her Confederate captors one dark night in the Caribbean in early January ’63. That month found the 233-ton brig J.P. Ellicott (out of Bucksport) sailing from Boston to Cienfuegos in Cuba to pick up cargo. Aboard the two-masted ship were some […]

Help save 17 acres at Camp Letterman hospital site in Gettysburg: Part II

  Maine has a real serious connection with the lonely Medical Department monument alongside Route 30 (York Pike) at Gettysburg. As explained last week in http://maineatwar.bangordailynews.com/2017/02/01/help-save-17-acres-at-camp-letterman-hospital-site-in-gettysburg-part-i/, the monument stands near the road built to access Camp Letterman, the large field hospital established in late July 1863 to care for soldiers too seriously wounded to be […]

Help save 17 acres at Camp Letterman hospital site in Gettysburg: Part I

Buzzing inbound to Gettysburg on busy Route 30 (a.k.a. the York Pike or the York Road), visitors headed for Gettysburg National Military Park zip past a lonely monument located diagonally across the road from Hoss’s Restaurant and McDonald’s, about halfway between both driveway entrances. Backdropped by slightly rising fields, woods, Pennsylvania’s ubiquitous power lines, and […]

Confederate pirate merrily loots and burns a Maine ship

A Confederate “pirate” — as the Northern press deemed him — so detested abolitionists that he really enjoyed burning a ship from a state he equated with the anti-slavery Republican Party. In spring 1861, Confederate Navy Commander Raphael Semmes received command of the CSS Sumter, a 473-ton, steam-powered merchant ship recently bought by the Confederate […]

The right man at the right time for governor — Part II

  Thirteen days before his inauguration as Maine’s 29th governor, Israel Washburn Jr. got an inkling of what might happen after he took office: South Carolina bolted the Union, and a low-level national buzz about war suddenly turned serious. And exactly 100 days after Washburn was sworn in at the State House in Augusta, war […]