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.

Connie Benwitz discusses Underground Railroad quilts at Minot event

I’m not a quilter. Susan is, though, and that’s why we attended the Minot Historical Society’s Civil War Days on Saturday, July 27: to hear Connie Benwitz talk about Underground Railroad quilts. Little did I know how much I would enjoy a program about quilting! The weekend featured re-enactors from Co. A, 3rd Maine Infantry; […]

Disparaged monument finds a quieter home 44 miles downriver

How soon until a darkness-clad thug “tags” the Virginia monument at Gettysburg? Confederate-monument vandalism continues unabated, with red spray paint applied to a Nashville, Tennessee monument in mid-June 2019, a 7-ton monument defaced in Santa Ana, Calif. on July 7, and a Bardstown, Kentucky monument splattered with red paint in May 2019. Living about 40 […]

The 5th Maine boys tramped into a leaden hail

Heroes tramped into a leaden hail at Gaines Mill, Va. on Friday, June 27, 1862. From chapter 34 in my new book, Maine at War Volume 1: Bladensburg to Sharpsburg, comes this adapted story involving the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment, commanded by Col. Nathaniel Jackson. When George McClellan decided to flee the Peninsula (the man […]

Two Confederate monuments find a prettier home

When anti-Confederate feelings ran high after Charlottesville, central Kentucky’s attention focused on two Confederate monuments standing prominently in downtown Lexington. A Congressional representative, a United States senator, James Buchanan’s vice president, and a Confederate general and secretary of war, John Cabell Breckinridge is practically unknown in Maine. He was a Bluegrass big shot in his […]

Maine musician watches the Army kill a deserter

A Portland soldier could not wait to share the gory details he saw while witnessing the first execution of a Union soldier during the Civil War. On Dec. 14, 1861, Pvt. Samuel Franklyn Parcher — he went by “Franklyn” or “Frank” — wrote a letter to his friend James O. Parsons, with whose family Parcher […]

Fourteen names printed on 12 lines

Imagine buying the local daily newspaper on Thursday, July 9, 1863 and perusing the four pages for interesting material, perhaps an ad, certainly any newsworthy blurbs. Suddenly a name leaps off page 2, third column from the left, about two-thirds down the page. The name belongs to a relative or a friend. He’s dead, wounded, […]

So you think you know Maine at Gettysburg, part 2

Here’s Part 2 of the Maine Monument Minutiae quiz involving Pine Tree State monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park. The answers are printed below. 1. Two Union generals lurk around the 2nd Maine Battery’s main monument on the Chambersburg Road. Who are those generals? 2. A small monument honoring a wounded Union general rises on […]

So you think you know Maine at Gettysburg, part 1

Gettysburg fans, let’s take Part 1 of the MMM quiz, short for “Maine Monument Minutiae.” And if you’re a “frequent flier” at Gettysburg or own the book Maine at Gettysburg, you might know the answers (printed below). 1. Which Maine regiment has as many monuments as its unit designation? And where are they? 2. Name […]