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.

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 […]

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

  New Year’s Day 1863 gets some attention in American history books because the Emancipation Proclamation took affect that Thursday. But what happened six days later, on Wednesday, January 7? Not much on the national level, Civil War-wise, but a momentous event took place at the State House in Augusta. Maine’s first wartime governor, the […]

A looting we will go!

Given the opportunity to join the looters pillaging shattered Fredericksburg in Virginia, the respectable Dr. Nahum P. Monroe grabbed what plunder he could. And he admitted that he had done so. Well after sunset on Monday, Dec. 15, 1862, Monroe (the chief surgeon of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment) rousted at least 20-25 wounded Union […]

A quiet country doctor from Maine confronts the horrors of war

  Confederate artillery shells whistling overhead, nearby explosions shaking the damaged house in which a senior Union officer had placed a field hospital, Army surgeons amputated shattered limbs, sewed blood-spurting arteries, and, between patients, wiped blood-covered hands on blood-pocked aprons. Sometimes Dr. Nahum P. Monroe, the senior surgeon of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment, stood, […]

We fight “because one should love his country the best of all”

  He had survived the slaughter at Fredericksburg, the “Mud March,” and a winter so cold and deadly that at least one historian would describe it as the equivalent of Valley Forge for the miserably sullen Army of the Potomac. So why did he stay with the standards? Other Union soldiers had deserted during winter […]

“You will guard this river by standing in it”

  Perhaps frightened — and at least worried — three privates from Co. C, 8th Maine Infantry Regiment, sensed the enemy approaching late one cold winter’s night in Georgia. Surely their captain would not leave them out here to face an enemy impervious to bayonets and bullets, would he? For some reason, Capt. John E. […]

Cemetery of Flies — Part II

The stench grew as Col. Harris Plaisted and an 11th Maine Infantry companion known only as “S” approached the front lines west of Seven Pines, Va. on Friday, June 19, 1862.* Here, on Saturday, May 31, Maj. Robert F. Campbell of Cherryfield had brought companies A, C, and F out of the 11th Maine camp […]

Cemetery of Flies — Part I

So big they all but clogged his horse’s nostrils, the swarming flies also targeted Col. Harris Plaisted as his nervous horse clopped across a sloppy Virginia field on Friday, June 19, 1862. Beside him a mounted 11th Maine Infantry Regiment officer — Plaisted commanded the battle- and disease-shredded unit — waved a hand at the […]

Racist white soldiers go after their black comrades in Cape Elizabeth — Part II

  By late 1863, black Maine men were joining the fight against the Confederacy. War Department policy prohibited blacks from serving in white regiments, so except for a few situations, the black Mainers enlisted in black regiments being raised in other states. Some recruits went to the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment (Colored), forming […]

Did racist white soldiers go after their black comrades in Cape Elizabeth? — Part I

Did racist white Maine soldiers run amuck at Camp Berry in Portland in mid-winter 1864? Unsure as to the truth, a livid Gov. Samuel Cony wanted answers — immediately, if not sooner. By late 1863, black Maine men were joining the fight against the Confederacy. War Department policy prohibited blacks from serving in white regiments, […]