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.

Courtroom wars part 3 – the judge lays down the law

Note: We thank attorney Joseph G. Donahue, a re-enactor with Co. A, 3rd Maine Infantry, for providing the Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion that sparked this three-part post. Appearing “in person” at the June 26, 1865 Corinna selectmen’s meeting, Pvt. John Winchester of the 4th Maine Battery “demanded” the $300 bounty and $144 for his […]

Courtroom wars part 2 – Corinna selectmen shaft a soldier

Note: We thank attorney Joseph G. Donahue, a re-enactor with Co. A, 3rd Maine Infantry, for providing the Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion that sparked this three-part post. While stationed at forts Haskell and Stedman along the Petersburg siege lines, the 4th Maine Battery lads cast their votes — 59 for Abraham Lincoln and 34 […]

Courtroom wars part 1 – Corinna promises its recruits big bucks

Note: We thank attorney Joseph G. Donahue, a re-enactor with Co. A, 3rd Maine Infantry, for providing the Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion that sparked this three-part post. A deal was a deal, John Winchester believed, and his hometown selectmen had better keep their end of the bargain — or else. Born January 25, 1822 […]

I’d no idea a ’orspittle was such a jolly place

A sick or wounded Maine soldier could not evade the army’s bureaucracy forever; sooner or later he either returned to duty or went home “Discharged for Disability.” The army preferred a soldier rejoin his unit; an experienced soldier back in the ranks was worth several angry draftees under guard while en route to the front. […]

Louisa May Alcott and a Mainer witness a soldier’s death

The first death that Louisa May Alcott witnessed as a Civil War nurse likely involved a Maine soldier — and the other witness was a Mainer by way of Ireland. We remember Alcott as an extraordinary writer and poet, and the recent movie Little Women recalled her probably best-known novel. Alcott, an abolitionist, “and her […]

Boost your quarantine reading options with autographed copy of Maine at War Volume 1

With libraries closed indefinitely and access to Civil War books in short supply, why not order an autographed copy of Maine at War Volume 1: Bladensburg to Sharpsburg for your reading pleasure this spring? Maine at War Volume 1 tells the story of Maine’s involvement in the first 18 months of the Civil War, as […]

That was my last picket line

Notified in mid-July 1865 that they would soon muster out, some 20th Maine lads looked forward to drinking their way home. Col. Ellis Spear quickly put the kibosh to that idea. He realized that when the War Department had called for infantry regiments in summer 1862, surgeons did not examine recruits “in the matter of […]

Maine at War will speak at Brewer Public Library on March 18

Brewer-area fans of Maine at War are invited to join us at 11 a.m., Wednesday, March 18 at the Brewer Public Library, located at 100 South Main Street, at the intersection with School Street. Titled Maine and Brewer Help Save the Union in 1861 and 1862, our well-illustrated program will focus on how Maine and […]

Death knocked often at the chaplain’s door

When stretcher bearers carried the badly wounded Brig. Gen. Joshua L. Chamberlain ashore at Annapolis, Maryland on June 20, 1864, the news soon reached Reverend Henry C. Henries, the chief Army chaplain at the United States General Hospital in Annapolis. The War Department had opened the hospital on “the neat, comfortable buildings and beautiful grounds […]