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.

Hannibal running

We can cancel the 154-year-old APB on Hannibal Augustus Johnson, on the lam from Confederate authorities since escaping from Camp Sorghum in Columbia, S.C. in 1864. Johnson has turned up in Cincinnati, of all places. A Hallowell resident, the 20-year-old Johnson mustered on June 4, 1861 as a corporal in Co. B, 3rd Maine Infantry […]

Breaks my heart to see my poor boy with one arm

The sight of his one-armed son after the Battle of Cedar Mountain almost broke Sgt. Horace Wright, a 42-year-old Auburn resident when he mustered into service with Co. H, 10th Maine Infantry Regiment on Oct. 4, 1861. His 18-year-old son, Lyman H. Wright, mustered into Co. H the next day. But Lyman was actually 16, […]

Film documentary Forlorn Hope debuts Monday, June 18

Building on the success of his epic documentary Sixteenth Maine at Gettysburg, filmmaker Dan Lambert will recall another hard-fighting Maine regiment with the June 18 premiere of Forlorn Hope on MPBN. Focused on the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment, Forlorn Hope will debut at the Alamo Theater in Bucksport at 2 p.m., Monday, June 18 […]

A nurse goes to war, Part 4: “We finished our rounds in double quick time”

On Wednesday, June 25, 1862 Union troops fought their last offensive action of the Peninsula Campaign at the Battle of Oak Grove. Federal regiments racked up casualties and accomplished precious little in the swamps west and southwest of Seven Pines, Va. “We had heard firing all the morning and knew what must follow,” said Bath […]

Memorial Day and the boys of Kenduskeag

It’s easy to miss them, even on a Memorial Day weekend. The boys of Kenduskeag lie quietly, eternally, behind the metal fence separating Village Cemetery from traffic on the adjacent Levant Road. It curves slightly while sliding past the cemetery; a driver paying attention to the road may not really notice this rural cemetery in […]

A nurse goes to war, Part 3: “My mother and my sister … are in the next room”

After arriving at Savage Station on Friday, June 13, 1862, nurses Sarah Sampson of Bath and Ellen Orbison Harris of Philadelphia started caring for sick and wounded Union soldiers. Not all were found in Army hospitals set up near Savage Station. The warm and colorful Virginia spring passed into early summer as the nurses spread […]

Honoring our slain heroes circa 2018 or 1863

Fifteen decades since the Civil War, some things have not changed for Mainers, especially the way we honor our slain heroes. On a sunny and warm Monday, May 7, 2018, hundreds of people gathered along Route 2 either side of the green-and-white Newport/Palmyra boundary sign to glimpse a passing hero. Twelve days ago, Corporal Eugene […]

A nurse goes to war, Part 2: Sarah Sampson hitches a ride to the front lines

During her initial days spent working as a nurse at White House Landing on the Pamunkey River, Sarah Sampson of Bath cared for many 3rd Maine soldiers. Aboard the steamer Elm City she nursed Brig. Gen. Charles Jameson, the initial commander of the 2nd Maine Infantry. “Ill with the fever that terminated his life,” Jameson […]

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 […]