Tag Archives: 17th Maine Infantry

Going Home: “ragged and dust laden” they marched into Richmond

When Robert E. Lee affixed his signature to the Appomattox Court House surrender document on April 9, 1865, he effectively flipped the Civil War switch to “off.” The shooting suddenly stopped, except in specific regions of the Deep South and Trans-Mississippi where Confederate and Union troops would not learn about the surrender for days. Gunfire […]

Appomattox Road: “We at once charged him with lying” — disbelief on April 9, 1865

  John Haley, the scrappy private from Saco, disbelieved the news that “an inveterate newsmonger” delivered to the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment around 10:30 a.m., Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865. Heading ever westward, Haley and his Co. I comrades had tramped, tramped, tramped their weary way west across southern Virginia the previous day. Up and […]

Appomattox Road: “We will fight our way back to the regiment!” — Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Five Forks

  Withdrawn from its White Oak Road earthworks after dark on Friday, March 31, 1865, the weary soldiers of the 5th Corps “about-faced” and went after Five Forks on April Fool’s Day … … and, in a master stroke attributable to sloppy reconnaissance, emerged onto the road leading to Appomattox Court House. Saturday’s clear, cold, […]

Appomattox Road: The solemn-faced nincompoop soon returned

  Winter 1865 found John Haley of Saco serving with the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment in the Union lines southwest of Petersburg. He and his Co. I comrades alternated their duty between the monotony and military regimen of camp life and dangerous duty at picket posts much nearer Confederate lines. “A new year dawns, the […]

Blanket Brigade: Forming the regiment

  In early April 1862, United States Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas ordered that recruiting cease in the loyal states. On April 3, Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon issued General Order No. 11, directing that “all officers and others engaged” in “Volunteer recruiting service in this state” should “close their several offices and [points of] rendezvous.” […]

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 […]

A dwindling color guard protected the 17th Maine’s flags

Protecting the flags of the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment took guts at Gettysburg. Commanded by Lt. Col. Charles Benjamin Merrill, the 17th Maine belonged to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, 3rd Corps — the same corps that Maj. Gen. Dan Sickles deployed to its evisceration west of Cemetery Ridge on Thursday, July 2, 1863. He […]

Answering the call

After Abraham Lincoln asked the loyal states to send more men to fight the Confederacy in early summer 1862, the War Department requested that Maine raise four additional infantry regiments. That meant Maine would send 4,000 men (at 1,000 men per regiment). With 15 infantry regiments already sent to far-flung battlefields, Maine would create the […]