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 jive with Civil War reality. I can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net.

Machias forager gets his goose cooked

  Sherman’s “March to the Sea” epitomizes the concept of “living off the land” in hostile territory, but soldiers like Calif Newton Drew of Machias were cleaning out Confederate larders long before Sherman’s bummers swaggered out of Atlanta. Hailing from Machias and Whitneyville, Drew was 15 when he joined Co. K, 6th Maine Infantry Regiment […]

Mayhem and murder in Georgia

Joining the 8th Maine Infantry Regiment took Enoch Robbins of Swanville to some popular tourist haunts along the Southeast coast. And a brutal murder in Georgia opened a door to a long-sought promotion. From Cyndi Dalton of Northport comes a tale of interracial love (and possibly sex), a jealous lover, murder, courtroom intrigue, and a […]

The women of Sherman

  The shots fired by Confederate artillery at Fort Sumter in April 1861 echoed as far away as Golden Ridge Plantation in southwestern Aroostook County … … and still echoed four years later when the residents of Sherman — the town which the plantation became on Jan. 28, 1862 — took stock of the high […]

The 5th Maine Infantry’s “galvanized Rebel” — Part II

After Confederate troops captured William Frederick Irwin of the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment at Spotsylvania Courthouse in mid-May 1864, he was soon shipped to a prison camp at Salisbury, N.C. “This was a nasty place,” according to Maine historian Curt Mildner. The prisoners suffered from malnutrition, lack of clothing and shelter, disease, and sadistic guards […]

The 5th Maine Infantry’s “galvanized Rebel” — Part I

  In tracing their Civil War ancestry, some folks discover (to paraphrase the title of Tony Horwitz’s delightful 1998 book) that they have a “Confederate or Yankee in the Attic”: The family’s connection to the Civil War wore Union blue or Confederate gray.A And then there are the fortunate Civil War descendants, like Elizabeth Kane […]

A Christmas gift from God and Abner Coburn

  At Camp Russell south of Winchester, Virginia, Capt. John Mead Gould of Portland and two other 29th Maine Infantry Regiment officers — George H. Nye of Lewiston and Alpheus L. Greene of Portland — received a particularly wonderful Christmas present on Friday, Dec. 23, 1864. The recent promotion of Col. George L. Beal of […]

Mud on the Mules

  Cold rain dripping from his campaign hat, Lt. Col. James “Jim” S. Fillebrown sat squarely in the saddle and watched the mucky chaos engulfing his 10th Maine Infantry Regiment on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1863. Until three days earlier, Fillebrown and his men had spent the early winter camping near Fairfax Court House in Virginia. […]

Did Daniel Chaplin develop a death wish?

  Did Col. Daniel Chaplin lose his desire to live after watching the annihilation of his beloved 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment at Petersburg on Saturday, June 18, 1864? Yes, surmised Pvt. Joel Brown of Orono and Co. I. And Chaplin’s own behavior suggests the behavior of a man who cared not if he lived […]

The 2nd Maine Cavalry rides again

Long-forgotten Maine cavalrymen ride once more into battle in a Civil War book recently released by Holden author Ned Smith. A few years ago, Airline Community School secretary Joni Archer “asked me what I knew about the 2nd Maine Cavalry,” said Smith, who teaches part time at the Aurora school. “I said, ‘Nothing.’” Archer’s great-grandfather, […]

Blanket Brigade: the perfect gift for Thanksgiving

  Note: This is the conclusion of the three-part series about the “Blanket Brigade.” Rising from their rude shelters in Ridgeville, Md. on Sunday, Sept. 14, the 16th Maine Infantry boys listened to “the terrific cannonading” erupting from the Battle of South Mountain, fought miles to the west, Adjutant Abner Small recalled the distant thunder. […]