Category Archives: the Civil War during its sesquicentennial

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 […]

Fort Hell and the 7th Maine Battery, part 2

Orders later came in November 1864 for the 7th Maine Battery to occupy Fort Alexander Hays on the Petersburg siege lines. Upon his arrival at the new port, Senior 1st Lt. William Berry Lapham realized the fort was “a soft place to spend the winter months.” His men started chopping trees and building housing and […]