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.

Frightened Union casualties watch as their captors approach at Savage Station — Part III

Feverish with typhoid fever, Corp. Harrison Huckins of Co. K, 6th Maine Infantry Regiment, heard the rumors circulating around him by late afternoon on Sunday, June 29, 1862. One patient among the 2,500 to 3,000 sick and wounded Union soldiers confined to hospital tents at the large Federal field-hospital complex at Savage Station, Va., Huckins […]

Calais nurse cared for her patients even as Confederates advanced on Savage Station — Part II

As the ill Corp. Harrison Huckins of Eastport and Co. K, 6th Maine Infantry Regiment battled for his life inside a hospital tent on Sunday, June 29, 1862, he could hear the enemy coming. Describing himself as “being very sick with the Typhoid Fever,” Huckins lay in a tent at Savage Station, a whistle stop […]

George McClellan abandons his sick and wounded at Savage Station — Part I

Like a bullet-crippled Custer trooper watching Indian warriors approach him at the Little Big Horn battlefield, what did Corp. Harrison Huckins think as he watched Confederate soldiers walk toward him at Savage Station in Virginia on Monday, June 30, 1862? The Custer trooper knew the Indians were coming to kill him; did a similar thought […]

A Brit rides with the 1st Maine Cavalry: Part III — hell on earth at Andersonville

For a dead man, Pvt. George F. Alexander certainly was a lively corpse. Alexander actually was George Alexander McCluskey, born in Westfield, New Brunswick in August 1846. The 5-4½ , blue-eyed British subject had lied about his age to enlist in the Co. K, 1st Maine Cavalry Regiment in January 1864. The regiment lost 68 […]

A Brit rides with the 1st Maine Cav: Part II — for Queen, Country, and Andersonville!

George Alexander McCluskey (dba with the United States Army as George F. Alexander) probably rode out with Co. K, 1st Maine Cavalry on Sunday, Feb. 28, 1864 to participate in the disastrous raid that Col. Ulric Dahlgren envisioned reaching Richmond, capturing senior Confederate politicians, and releasing Union prisoners of war. Among other cavalrymen, about 500 […]

A Brit rides with the 1st Maine Cavalry: Part I — fibbing to fit in

  The young recruit so assiduously trying to enlist in the 1st Maine Cavalry Regiment on January 4, 1864 looked suspiciously young, hardly needing to shave yet. The kid swore up and down — and officially on his enlistment papers — that he was of legal age to fight for the United States. Angus P. […]

Dear old Mom asked her son to spy on his brother-in-law

Reading the recurring requests penned in his mother’s familiar cursive writing, Edwin A. Lowe gulped. He clearly understood what Lucetta S. Parker sought: information about her third oldest son — and a particular son-in-law. Re-reading Lucetta’s questions marks, Lowe gulped again. This wasn’t going to be an easy letter to write home to dear old […]

Gaines Mill: Part IV — “It was more than flesh and blood could resist”

As the battered Union right flank started to crumble at Gaines Mill around 5 p.m., Friday, June 27, 1862, Brig. Gen. Henry W. Slocum had poured in all his reserves … … including the 2nd Brigade commanded by Col. Joseph J. Bartlett. A brave man who rode his horse amidst the flying Confederate lead, Bartlett […]

Gaines Mill: Part III — The 5th Maine marches into hell

  At 5:30 a.m. on Friday, June 27, 1862, Col. Nathaniel Jackson started the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment toward the fighting — at that moment only a large-scale shootout between opposing skirmishers — nears Gaines Mill east of Richmond. Jackson’s men marched with the 2nd Brigade led by Col. Joseph J. Bartlett. Fleshed out with […]

Gaines Mill: Part II — The 2nd Maine defends Boatswain’s Creek

  As the sun rose east of Richmond, Virginia on Friday, June 27, 1862, Charles W. Roberts knew that his 2nd Maine Infantry boys were “in” for it. The previous day, Colonel Roberts and the 2nd Maine had listened for hours as Confederate troops attacked Union soldiers entrenched along Beaver Dam Creek. A Pennsylvanian division […]