Category Archives: the Civil War during its sesquicentennial

“A potato! A potato! My kingdom for a potato!” at Thanksgiving 1863

Which food would an Army cook want to serve a Maine regiment at Thanksgiving? Hardtack so old that Noah had served it on his ark — or apples and potatoes shipped directly from Maine? By Thanksgiving Day 1863, Maine soldiers longed for “real” food: apple pie like mom made, beans prepared with real molasses, bread […]

A missing Gettysburg veteran turns up in the most logical place

As Veterans Day approaches, the final resting place of a long-forgotten hero mentioned in an obscure journal has been “found” … … and, actually, he was there all along. Dr. Albion Cobb, assistant surgeon of the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment, helped care for the myriad wounded of Gettysburg during and after the battle. He saved […]

A wild flower collected from a soldier’s grave

  Fifty-eight years before the first Armistice Day observance in the United States, a compassionate Bath nurse visited the grave of a young Maine soldier in Washington, D.C. Sarah Sampson also ensured that a brigadier general would not forget John W. Campbell, who had fought in one battle before losing his life. Hailing from Livermore, […]

Finding the dead at Gettysburg

Twenty-four days after arriving at Gettysburg, Dr. Albion Cobb of the 4th Maine Infantry finally left his patients long enough to explore “the field of battle.” On Saturday, July 25, Cobb walked across the terrain defended by Union troop and gazed in astonishment at the soldiers still there. “I find the whole country planted with […]

Bullets whistled around Dr. Cobb in a Gettysburg hospital: Part II

No matter how poorly their assistant surgeon felt, the 4th Maine boys left their camp near Gum Spring and marched north “to the mouth of the Monocacy River” on June 25, 1863, the ill Dr. Albion Cobb noticed as he swayed to and fro in a lurching medical wagon. As rain muddied the roads all […]

Physician, heal thyself on the road to Gettysburg: Part I

If Dr. Albion Cobb had known the horrors awaiting Army of the Potomac surgeons converging on Gettysburg, he might have consigned himself permanently to the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment’s sick list on Thursday, June 25, 1863. Apparently from Ogunquit, Cobb had studied medicine with “a Dr. Stone,” according to Richard F. Potter, a Connecticut resident […]

Young Rockland soldier saves the flag at the Devil’s Den: Part II

Screaming the famous “Rebel yell,” thousands of Confederates rolled east toward Houck’s Ridge and the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg around 4 p.m., Thursday, July 2, 1863. They rolled back a skirmish line comprising the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters and marksmen from the 4th Maine Infantry. The fighting surged toward Devil’s Den and the valley (soon to […]

Young Rockland soldier saves the flag at the Devil’s Den: Part I

If you’ve walked amidst the boulders at the Devil’s Den at Gettysburg, you have crossed paths with a Maine soldier who should have received the Medal of Honor for what he did there. Let me introduce Henry O. Ripley, an obscure hero who stepped onto the Gettysburg stage and emerged unscathed. Confederates should have killed […]

A reasonable offer could bring a Civil War veteran “home” to Maine

A bit of Maine-related Civil War history is looking to come home to the Pine Tree State. During his tenure as Maine’s governor, Joshua L. Chamberlain instituted a printed testimonial for Maine veterans seeking a paper memorial of their wartime service. Qualified veterans — they had to prove their veterans’ status, but Maine made it […]

Quaker cannon has begun, no more shooting, no more fun

When I was young, we sometimes played “Quaker meeting has begun, no more laughing, no more fun.” Participants turned stone-faced and silent; the first one to crack a smile or laugh lost the game, which took its name from the stillness that Quakers allegedly practiced during their meetings. The tough 5th Maine Infantry boys played […]