Tag Archives: Army of Northern Virginia

Quaker cannon has begun, no more shooting, no more fun

When I was young, we sometimes played “Quaker meeting has begun, no more laughing, no more fun.” Participants turned stone-faced and silent; the first one to crack a smile or laugh lost the game, which took its name from the stillness that Quakers allegedly practiced during their meetings. The tough 5th Maine Infantry boys played […]

Appomattox Road: “We waited for morning and Gen. Lee’s army” — April 9, 1865

  Shortly after sunset on Saturday, April 8, 1865, a few dozen 1st Maine Cavalry troopers and their weary horses vanished into the Virginia darkness near Appomattox Station, a major stop on the Southside Railroad linking Petersburg with Lynchburg. The troopers went foraging for food and fodder while their comrades remained near the station. Suddenly […]

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  Withdrawn from its White Oak Road earthworks after dark on Friday, March 31, 1865, the weary soldiers of the 5th Corps “about-faced” and went after Five Forks on April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, […]

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 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 […]

The Long March

“Tramp, tramp, tramp the boys are marching” in late June 1863 as Joseph Hooker and the Army of the Potomac chased the Pennsylvania-bound Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia. Somewhere on the wretched Piedmont roads tramped the men belonging to the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment, mustered into federal service at Portland two […]

A horse here, a horse there, the 1st thing you know, you’ve got a cavalry regiment

Among the storied Maine outfits deployed against Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was the 1st Maine Cavalry Regiment. No cavalry history of the Army of the Potomac would be complete without repeated mention of the 1st Maine Cav. But this hard-fighting regiment did not exist in spring or summer 1861. In fact, the […]