Tag Archives: 5th Maine Infantry

Illsley and his ilk met their match in Jackson

Shoulder-strap desire met gubernatorial reality on Monday, Sept. 9, 1861 at the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment camp near Washington, D.C. — and the “shoulder straps” led the subsequent mutiny. Known as the “Forest City Regiment,” the 5th Maine mustered into federal service at Portland (the “Forest City”) on Monday, June 24, 1861. Exactly a month […]

Images of the Dead

During the early months of the Civil War, civilians and soldiers — North and South alike — viewed war as a grand adventure comprising glittering cavalcades of marching soldiers and held-high flags. Then came the reality of war, experienced first on the battlefield by amateur soldiers in early summer 1861 and next by civilians some […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Hell comes to Rappahannock Station on a dark November night: Part II

  Cold steel is coming to Rappahannock Station on a dark November night. The bridgehead defended by the “Louisiana Tigers” and a North Carolina brigade faces assault along its entire defensive length — and the 5th Maine Infantry will “go in” on the Union right. Meanwhile, “about 500 yards” from “the enemy’s rifle pits, we […]