Spotsylvania Court House, Part II: “They were brutes”

  After Col. Charles Herring reached the expanding battlefield northwest of Spotsylvania Court House, Va. at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 8, 1864, Union generals kept maneuvering his ad hoc brigade hither and yon throughout the day to meet threats imagined and real as fighting engulfed nearby Laurel Hill. At 6 p.m., according to Pvt. […]

Spotsylvania Court House, Part I : The rear guard marches to the sound of the guns

Union soldiers expected that after the savage fighting they had endured in The Wilderness in early May 1864, Ulysses Simpson Grant would withdraw the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers and let his mauled divisions encamp to lick their wounds. Other generals — particularly Ambrose Burnside and Joseph Hooker — had […]

Great violence happened here in bucolic Spotsylvania County

Mainers visiting the Spotsylvania Court House battlefield will find no monuments dedicated to Pine Tree State regiments. A few Union monuments stand here; the first encountered by visitors is the John Sedgwick monument at the intersection of Brock Road and Grant Drive. The low-key monument marks the spot where the Sixth Corps commander offered himself […]

May 24 ceremonies honored 1st Maine Heavy Artillery

Spring peepers added a special touch to a ceremony held in Bangor Saturday, May 24 to honor a Maine regiment shattered during a tragic charge in Virginia almost 150 years ago. The Queen City was among 11 sites across the United States selected to participate in a National Park Service-sponsored program titled “Reverberations.” Specific Union […]

Preserve the battlefields where the Maine boys fought

  Of the many places where Maine soldiers and sailors fought 150 years ago, some sites no longer exist. The 9th Maine Infantry “went in” with the 54th Massachusetts Infantry on the failed nighttime assault on Fort Wagner near Charleston in July 1863. By war’s end, the sea was already claiming Fort Wagner and the […]

The Wilderness, Part IV — Trapped

After capturing Confederate-held trenches at the western edge of Saunders Field in The Wilderness on May 5, 1864, 20th Maine Infantry soldiers kept pushing their enemies through the tangled undergrowth beyond those trenches. The Maine soldiers advanced across this particular terrain just west of the trenches still found at Saunders Field. Anchoring his regiment’s left […]

Bangor to host national event in honor of 1st Maine Heavy Artillery

During a National Park Service-sponsored event titled “Reverberations — Commemorating the Overland Campaign,” Maine will honor a battle-shattered Civil War regiment as part of 11 observances taking place across the United States on Saturday, May 24. “The purpose of this Civil War 150th event is to help people understand that the suffering on the battlefields […]

The Wilderness, Part III — Slaughter at Saunders Field

  For the 20th Maine boys hurrying west from their recently constructed breastworks near the Old Wilderness Tavern in central Virginia, the slaughter began sometime after 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 1864. At noon Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin had received an order to probe westward along the Orange Turnpike with his 1st Division of […]

The Wilderness, Part II — “The air was filled with lead”

  Theodore Gerrish and his 20th Maine Infantry comrades knew little about strategy — — but they certainly knew how to fight when the generals got their strategy all wrong. Ulysses Simpson Grant intended to hustle the well-rested and -equipped Army of the Potomac through The Wilderness on Wednesday, May 4, 1864. By emerging into […]

The Wilderness, Part 1 — One last fine spring day dawned on the 20th Maine

  When Pvt. Theodore Gerrish of the 20th Maine Infantry awoke to a perfect morning on Sunday, May 1, 1864, he never imagined that he and his friends would not see such a day again. Ulysses Simpson Grant believed that shoving the Army of the Potomac through a godless central Virginia forest that spring would […]