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.

Living History Weekends at Gettysburg

Some 30 weekends a year, Civil War re-enactors bring their craft to life during Living History Weekends at Gettysburg National Military Park; at no cost to themselves, visitors can briefly glimpse history on the fields where it was made. We spent a few hours at Gettysburg on Sunday, September 28. That particular weekend two re-enactment […]

A Hamlin could get away with cowardice

If he did not skedaddle from Manassas in late day on Sunday, July 21, 1861, then why did Augustus Choate Hamlin expend so much ink explaining why he was not a coward? Thanks to his vice-presidential uncle, Hamlin enjoyed a distinguished surname that fateful spring. A doctor by profession and a Republican by choice, he […]

1st Maine Heavies dueled with Ewell’s best at Harris Farm

  Note: This is the second of a two-part article about the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery’s involvement in the Battle of Harris Farm, Va. Unable to break the Confederate lines at Spotsylvania despite repeated assaults, Ulysses Simpson Grant tried in mid-May 1864 to slip the Army of the Potomac east and south around the enemy […]

Lack of combat skills costs 1st Maine Heavies dearly at Harris Farm

  A few hours spent learning rudimentary combat skills could have saved many Maine lives near Spotsylvania Court House, Va. on Thursday, May 19, 1864. The modern Army’s concept of “Advanced Infantry Training” did not exist during the Civil War. The small pre-war Army primarily fought Indians in the far West, where parade-ground maneuvers drawn […]

Locked and Loaded in Baltimore

Friendly receptions drew loud “huzzahs” as the 3rd Maine Infantry Regiment headed south to the war zone in early June 1861. And then there was Baltimore. Beneath “a cloudless sky,” the 3rd Maine boys left Augusta by train on Wednesday, June 5, 1861, recalled Col. Oliver Otis Howard, the professional soldier from Leeds who had […]

Images of the Dead

During the early months of the Civil War, civilians and soldiers — North and South alike — viewed war as a grand adventure comprising glittering cavalcades of marching soldiers and held-high flags. Then came the reality of war, experienced first on the battlefield by amateur soldiers in early summer 1861 and next by civilians some […]

Larry Knight follows his great-grandfather into prison

Like his great-grandfather, Larry Knight frequents prisons in the Deep South. However, unlike Pvt. Adelbert Knight of Co. F, 11th United States Infantry Regiment, Larry visits places like Camp Sumter in Andersonville, Ga. and Libby Prison in Richmond, Va. as a visitor, not an inmate. The son of Samuel and Abner Knight of Lincolnville, the […]

The vice president shouldered a rifle in Kittery

Some Bangor boys once spent a pleasant wartime summer guarding a fort on the Maine coast. Not many Mainers visit Fort McClary, an interesting state historic site located off Route 103 in Kittery Point. Built to protect Kittery and Portsmouth, N.H. against enemy warships, the fort comprised a blockhouse and other buildings perched on a […]

Meet the Heroes of Evergreen Cemetery: Part II

  Approximately 1,400 Civil War veterans — I call them “heroes,” if only because they fought to preserve our country — lie buried at Evergreen Cemetery on Stevens Avenue in Portland. On a recent sunny, warm summer’s day, Friends of Evergreen docent Lin Brown introduced me to about 50 of them. We toured the 239-acre […]

Meet the Heroes of Evergreen Cemetery: Part I

  Nowhere else in Maine can people meet so many Civil War veterans than at Evergreen Cemetery, located at 672 Stevens Ave., in Portland — — and through its well-organized docent tours, the Friends of Evergreen are anxious to make the introductions. Through the mid-19th century, burials gradually filled Eastern Cemetery and Western Cemetery in […]