Category Archives: Maine’s role

Spotsylvania Part VII: The dying groaned beneath the dead

As some 20,000 Union troops charged out of the fog and burst into the Mule Shoe salient at Spotsylvania Court House, Va. on May 12, 1864, Confederate resistance collapsed beneath the onslaught. Union soldiers swept up 3,000 prisoners, including the cane-wielding Maj. Gen. Edward Johnson and Brig. Gen. George Steuart, who led a mixed North […]

Spotsylvania Part IV: Maine regiments joined a Union battering ram

Did a Confederate sharpshooter seal the fates of some 200 Maine soldiers — and another 800 other Union boys — during the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House? Possibly. Dawn on Monday, May 9, 1864 found Col. Clark S. Edwards and his 5th Maine Infantry Regiment camped behind the rapidly lengthening Union earthworks northwest of Spotsylvania, […]

Spotsylvania, Part III: Maine soldiers witnessed horrific reminders of war

As the battle-weary men of his 2nd Brigade shuffled through the Chancellorsville battlefield on Sunday morning, May 8, 1864, Col. Emory Upton could see the year-old carnage not yet concealed by Virginia’s brilliant spring growth. He could not foresee the similar fate awaiting four of his five regiments within the next 25 days. The 2nd […]

The 6th Maine’s screaming demons led the way

Frantically loading and firing their rifled muskets, the Mississippi infantrymen defending the stone wall at Fredericksburg about 11:05 a.m. on May 3, 1863, suddenly realized that all the .58-caliber lead bullets in the world would not stop the screaming, wild-eyed berserkers swarming toward them. No matter how many comrades pitched onto the slope below Marye’s […]

Two heroes still stood at Chancellorsville

“Through smoke and fire and shot and shell, unto the very walls of hell, we did stand and we did stay, in that Virginia field so far away”: Thus does a paraphrased verse from John Tam’s “Over the Hills and Far Away” describe the fate that befell the valiant heroes of the 5th Maine Battery […]

Blood-letting at Salem Church

The regimental ranks thinned by 18 men in mid-morning on Sunday, May 3, 1863, the 5th Maine Infantry boys may have figured the fighting was over for the day. For them, the blood-letting had scarcely begun. After Union regiments captured Marye’s Heights that day, orders summoned Col. Clark S. Edwards and the 5th Maine to […]

Death dance with a Confederate cannonball

After enjoying the “beautiful night” that slipped away with the dawn on May 3, 1863, 1st Lt. George Bicknell saw that Sunday turn decidedly ugly. Sheltered by the Virginia darkness, he stood with his 5th Maine Infantry comrades as they waited the orders to attack nearby Confederate troops defending the heights southeast of Fredericksburg. As […]

Travel agent

Lagrange Severance showed promise as a fledgling travel agent … despite the faded blue uniform that he donned daily. When Col. George Shepley led the 12th Maine Infantry to war in November 1861, the delightfully named Lagrange marched along as a private in Co. H. Described by a Bangor newspaper as “a very intelligent young […]

Introducing Maine at War

Of all recent “Civil War” movies, only “Gettysburg” captured national attention. Its historical predecessor and cinematic prequel, “Gods and Generals,” bombed at the theater, probably because the film crews spent too much time “shooting” in Southern parlors and not in the military camps. Other Civil War-themed films, especially those wretchedly scripted for TV, also bombed. […]