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.

A nurse goes to war, Part 1: “Such suffering and confusion I never before witnessed”

After receiving a telegram on Wednesday, May 7, 1862, Bath nurse Sarah Sampson hurried to the war zone, which in that far-away spring was Virginia’s so-called “Peninsula.” What she saw and did there launched her into history as a 3rd Maine Infantry Regiment legend. Sarah Sampson had traveled with her husband, Lt. Col. Charles A.L. […]

Joe Hooker takes command, and Maine boys notice, part II

The arrival of Joe Hooker at Army of the Potomac headquarters in late January 1863 stirred interest, trepidation, and many questions. Within weeks he instituted morale-building improvements that restored the army’s elan. “Never was the magic influence of a single man more clearly shown than when Hooker assumed command,” said Capt. Charles P. Mattocks of […]

Maine boys notice when Joe Hooker takes command, part I

Despite all the immorality-related baggage (drinking, carousing with prostitutes, etc.) historically associated with him, Joseph Hooker helped save the Union in winter 1863. Abraham Lincoln could have done worse than replace Ambrose Burnside with Hooker, at least in the months prior to Chancellorsville. In the regimental camps sprinkled across Stafford County opposite Fredericksburg, morale all […]

The Soldierly Monument, Part 4

Stephen Decatur Carpenter had been dead 5½ months and in his grave some four months when Bangor residents dedicated the monument erected initially to honor him — and ultimately all of the Queen City’s war dead. And the thousands of people who gathered to honor all their heroes saw the war come home that particular […]

The soldierly monument, Part 3

With the body of slain Army Maj. Stephen Decatur Carpenter finally arriving home in Bangor, local officials wondered what could be done to honor their hero. On Saturday evening, February 7, 1862 the Bangor City Council met in special session to resolve “that the Mayor and Two Aldermen … be a committee to procure a […]

Volunteers needed at two Maine sites for Park Day 2018

Civil War buffs and history fans can help spruce up two war-related sites in Maine as the Civil War Trust sponsors Park Day 2018. The CWT website, www.civilwar.org, describes Park Day as “an annual hands-on volunteer event to help Civil War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812 battlefields and historic sites shine their brightest.” Volunteers […]

The monumental soldier, Part 2

The Maine soldier responsible for the construction of the nation’s first privately funded Civil War monument trekked from battlefield to battlefield across the Upper South before returning to the Pine Tree State. Amidst the miserable weather engulfing the Shiloh battlefield after sunset on April 6, 1862, the 19th U.S. Infantry regulars commanded by Stephen Decatur […]

The monumental soldier, Part I

If you like monuments, Civil War veterans created more than you can imagine — — and an unsung Maine soldier spawned the first privately erected Civil War monument in the United States. The tale begins in Foxcroft in Piscataquis County and ends not that far away. Susan (Heald) Carpenter bore her husband, Joshua, a son […]

Dead man walking gets promoted

With all the lead flying, a savage battle like Chancellorsville brought promotion for an aspiring young officer or NCO, especially if a bullet struck the right place … on someone else. Absent when his 17th Maine Infantry Regiment fought with III Corps and Daniel Sickles in the fields and woods comprising the Chancellorsville battlefield, Col. […]

Portland soldier writes about a loss and love

Having survived the Battle of Chancellorsville, George F. Moulton of the 17th Maine Infantry had a greater concern than the horrors of battle when he wrote “My Dear Mother” from “Camp Sickles near Bell Plain” on Wednesday, May 20, 1863. Eighteen and single when he mustered with the 17th Maine Infantry at Portland on August […]