Fifth Maine museum connects past and present

  When the 5th Maine Infantry boys decided to party after the Civil War, they figured that Portland was the obvious place … … but to keep their poignant reunions private and give their weary comrades a quiet place to “get away from it all,” the 5th Maine’s surviving members chose peaceful Peaks Island as […]

Mutineers could drive an officer crazy

Deserters were not the only man-made plague that drove Maine officers crazy during the Civil War; independent-minded Maine soldiers might mutiny, too, if they so decided. Patriotic fervor swept the Midcoast in mid-April 1861. A business partner with Hiram Berry, Elijah Walker sold coal and lumber in Rockland, recently split from Thomaston and designated the […]

A deserter’s fate, Part II: A firing squad delivered the verdict

  After deserter Albert H. Lunt of the 9th Maine Infantry Regiment was convicted of various crimes by a court martial convened at St. Augustine, Fla., he was sentenced to death. President Abraham Lincoln upheld the sentence in mid-November 1862; Army officers scheduled the execution for Dec. 1. Lunt was transferred to Hilton Head, S.C., […]

A deserter’s fate, Part I: Even the Confederates didn’t want him

  Bad boy Albert H. Lunt could do no good, so 12 Union soldiers shot him dead at Hilton Head on Monday, Dec. 1, 1862. And in case they missed, another dozen armed soldiers waited to use Lunt for target practice. Assigned to Co. I, 9th Maine Infantry Regiment, Lunt seemed destined to pay for […]

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 VI: A rooster’s crow unleashed the slaughter

Wandering amidst hell on earth after sunrise on Friday, May 13, 1864, Pvt. John Haley and other survivors of the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment gazed upon “more dead than we had ever seen,” he later told his journal. Raised in summer 1862, the 17th Maine belonged that spring to the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, part […]

Spotsylvania Part V: Sloppy staff work dooms a successful charge

At the time when they should be eating supper on Tuesday, May 10, 1864, some 5,000 to 5,500 Union soldiers crouched in the piney woods opposite the Confederate-held Mule Shoe at Spotsylvania, Va. The nervous boys in blue belonged to 12 Sixth Corps regiments that Col. Emory Upton would momentarily lead in a charge to […]

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 […]