Tag Archives: Charles Tilden

Open your mouth and say “ah”

In the summer of 1862, prospective recruits joining the five new infantry regiments forming in Maine faced one gauntlet not run by the volunteers of ’61: tougher medical exams. Fourteen months earlier, doctors had approved recruits because they had sufficient fingers and toes and a palpable pulse. Stunned by vast numbers of soldiers medically discharged […]

Readfield father threatens to turn recruiter into dead hero

Sgt. Maj. Abner R. Small of Waterville enjoyed a snug recruiting gig at the State House in Augusta as Stonewall Jackson and his hard-marching infantry battered three Union armies in the Shenandoah Valley in May 1862. Confident of victory in the Valley and on the Peninsula, the War Department had halted recruiting efforts in April. […]

Joe Hooker takes command, and Maine boys notice, part II

The arrival of Joe Hooker at Army of the Potomac headquarters in late January 1863 stirred interest, trepidation, and many questions. Within weeks he instituted morale-building improvements that restored the army’s elan. “Never was the magic influence of a single man more clearly shown than when Hooker assumed command,” said Capt. Charles P. Mattocks of […]

Blanket Brigade: the perfect gift for Thanksgiving

  Note: This is the conclusion of the three-part series about the “Blanket Brigade.” Rising from their rude shelters in Ridgeville, Md. on Sunday, Sept. 14, the 16th Maine Infantry boys listened to “the terrific cannonading” erupting from the Battle of South Mountain, fought miles to the west, Adjutant Abner Small recalled the distant thunder. […]

Blanket Brigade: hard luck on the Potomac

  Note: This is the second part of a three-part series about the “Blanket Brigade.” A hard-luck infantry regiment that Maine fielded in midsummer 1862 later drew scathing ridicule as the autumn rains and cold literally dissolved clothing, men, and equipment in those wretched weeks after Antietam. Commanded by Col. Asa W. Wildes of Skowhegan, […]

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.” […]

Requiem for a hero

Tilden is dead. He whom Confederates could not kill along the railroad at Fredericksburg or at Oak Hill outside Gettysburg, he whom as the 16th Maine Infantry’s “Harry Houdini” never met an escape opportunity that he would not take, he is dead. Born in Castine on May 7, 1832, Charles W. Tilden died at his […]

16th Maine met its Armageddon at Gettysburg

Charles Tilden led 275 men of the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment into Gettysburg around noon on Wednesday, July 1, 1863. Only 40 men answered the regimental rolls after sunset on that bloody day. The other 235 men had vanished after savagely battling thousands of Confederates that afternoon. Among the missing was Tilden, who hailed from […]

17-year-old soldier charges with the 16th Maine at Fredericksburg

  The 16th Maine boys know that if they charge those distant hills, they will die. So do the Johnnies awaiting them. And today, just 12 days before Christmas 1862, there can’t be a more miserable place to die than on these muddy farm fields about 2 miles downriver from a Virginia town called Fredericksburg. […]

The 16th Maine Infantry monuments at Gettysburg

  From time to time we will wander to Gettysburg and visit the monuments left there by Maine units. Today let’s walk where the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment fought and died. Late afternoon on July 1, 1863, Col. Charles Tilden and his 16th Maine were west of Gettysburg, holding a line that essentially stretched from […]