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.

New Yorker would rather “love” in Bangor than fight elsewhere

While most eyes focused on far-flung southern battlefields in October 1862, one New Yorker’s eyes focused on a particular young lady — and the farther and the sooner the Lothario could get her from the Empire State, the better. If she was from New York. Circa-October 20 or so, “a man came to one of […]

Joshua Chamberlain goes on a strange tramp

Note: This post is adapted from the wartime biography of Joshua L. Chamberlain that I am writing for Emerging Civil War. Not content to let his battered soldiers rest after Fredericksburg, Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside sent an entire division, including Lt. Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine Infantry, on a weird cross-country tramp […]

Confederates spring a cannonball trick at Fort Hell

Perhaps jealous that their Union foes inside Fort Sedgwick were getting more company than they were, Confederate gunners at Fort Mahone across the Jerusalem Plank Road came calling one Sunday morning in winter ’65. Senior 1st Lt. William B. Lapham, 7th Maine Battery, commanded the Union artillery and gunners assigned to Sedgwick, also called “Fort […]

Newspaper cheers when Augusta arrests a traitorous lawyer

You’ve probably heard this joke: “A lawyer and a snake are lying run over in the road. What’s the difference between them?” Answer: “There are brake marks over the snake.” The lawyer joke circulating in Lewiston, Maine in autumn 1862 went something like this: “What do you call a copperhead lawyer tossed into jail?” Answer: […]

Did God ward off a third strike against Joshua Chamberlain?

Note: This post is adapted from the wartime biography of Joshua L. Chamberlain that I am writing for Emerging Civil War. Shot down during his brigade’s Saturday June 18, 1864 charge at Petersburg, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain should have bled out on the battlefield. He did not. Recivered by stretcher bearers sent into the lead-filled […]

Maine at War will speak January 15 at Pittsfield Public Library

Central Maine fans of Maine at War are invited to join us at 11 a.m., Wednesday, January 15 at the Pittsfield Public Library, 110 Library Street, Pittsfield. Titled Maine Helps Save the Union in 1861 and 1862, our program will examine the vital role that Maine played during the first two years of the Civil […]

Returning Port Hudson veterans meet Hannibal Hamlin

What happens when warriors fresh off the battlefield spend two weeks traveling home? Hopefully they don’t stink, at least. Bloodied at Irish Bend in April 1863 and at Port Hudson that May and June, the 26th Maine Infantry boys probably lined the rails and cheered jubilantly as their steamboat chugged upriver, away from Port Hudson […]

Help erect the first Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley

With Maine’s bicentennial only a few months away, join us in erecting the first monument erected in the Shenandoah Valley to the Maine soldiers who served there during the Civil War. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (of which I am a member) is raising funds to erect a Maine monument at the Third Winchester battlefield, […]

Researchers rely on primary sources for invaluable material

What are the best information sources for researchers focused on Maine and the Civil War? I would argue for what historians often call “primary sources,” material that is chronologically closest to the war years. Let me recommend these primary sources for serious wartime researching. Letters and diaries: Harder to find as 21st-century descendants trash the […]

Fort Hell and the 7th Maine Battery, part 3

Arriving at Fort Sedgwick about Dec. 1, 1864, the 7th Maine Battery’s gunners noticed no protection against indirect mortar fire. Aided by “a detail of infantry,” the Maine and New Jersey gunners used “gabions, sand-bags, timber and earth” to construct “bomb-proofs … along the parapet” to shelter the artillerymen and a large bomb-proof in the […]