Two Confederate monuments find a prettier home

When anti-Confederate feelings ran high after Charlottesville, central Kentucky’s attention focused on two Confederate monuments standing prominently in downtown Lexington. A Congressional representative, a United States senator, James Buchanan’s vice president, and a Confederate general and secretary of war, John Cabell Breckinridge is practically unknown in Maine. He was a Bluegrass big shot in his […]

Maine musician watches the Army kill a deserter

A Portland soldier could not wait to share the gory details he saw while witnessing the first execution of a Union soldier during the Civil War. On Dec. 14, 1861, Pvt. Samuel Franklyn Parcher — he went by “Franklyn” or “Frank” — wrote a letter to his friend James O. Parsons, with whose family Parcher […]

Fourteen names printed on 12 lines

Imagine buying the local daily newspaper on Thursday, July 9, 1863 and perusing the four pages for interesting material, perhaps an ad, certainly any newsworthy blurbs. Suddenly a name leaps off page 2, third column from the left, about two-thirds down the page. The name belongs to a relative or a friend. He’s dead, wounded, […]

So you think you know Maine at Gettysburg, part 2

Here’s Part 2 of the Maine Monument Minutiae quiz involving Pine Tree State monuments at Gettysburg National Military Park. The answers are printed below. 1. Two Union generals lurk around the 2nd Maine Battery’s main monument on the Chambersburg Road. Who are those generals? 2. A small monument honoring a wounded Union general rises on […]

So you think you know Maine at Gettysburg, part 1

Gettysburg fans, let’s take Part 1 of the MMM quiz, short for “Maine Monument Minutiae.” And if you’re a “frequent flier” at Gettysburg or own the book Maine at Gettysburg, you might know the answers (printed below). 1. Which Maine regiment has as many monuments as its unit designation? And where are they? 2. Name […]

Maine at War author will speak at Civil War weekend at Norlands

Join Maine at War at the Rally for Norlands: Civil War Living History Weekend, to be held this coming weekend (June 22-23) at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center, 290 Norlands Road, Livermore. The largest gathering of all things Civil War taking place in Maine in 2019, Rally for Norlands is organized by two re-enactor units: […]

Civil War research digs into the weed patch

Researching the Civil War deep “into the weeds” requires time, patience, and a passion for the war. War-related research resembles a well-run Maine farm. There are the highly visible “crops”: the apple orchard, the potato field (think Aroostook County), the pea vines and bean stalks, etc., etc. Let’s compare that same farm to research related […]

Enrollment Act laid out the new national draft in detail

Note: This is one in a series of posts about the national draft and its impact on Maine. The Lincoln Administration had threatened a draft to stimulate recruitment in summer 1862, but settled for nine-month regiments to get enough men into uniform for the following winter. Fewer volunteers rallied around the flag by midwinter ’63, […]

Only a national draft could reinforce the Federal armies

Note: This is the first in a series of drop-in posts about the national draft and its impact on Maine. Was Ambrose Burnside a Confederate secret agent? No, but his pugnacious refusal to cancel the bloody December 13, 1862 charges at Fredericksburg almost accomplished in the Army of the Potomac camps what Robert E. Lee […]

The Letter to the Widow

Note: Memorial Day is Monday, May 27 After watching a young Maine soldier slip into eternity, Nathaniel P. Banks shared the captain’s last moments in a poignant letter to his widow. Born in Exeter, the teen-aged Abbott Coan moved to Orono in the early 1850s. Eschewing the initial patriotic call to arms in spring 1861, […]