Tag Archives: Portland

Racist white soldiers go after their black comrades in Cape Elizabeth — Part II

  By late 1863, black Maine men were joining the fight against the Confederacy. War Department policy prohibited blacks from serving in white regiments, so except for a few situations, the black Mainers enlisted in black regiments being raised in other states. Some recruits went to the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment (Colored), forming […]

Wishing you a “Merry Christmas” from a “one-horse town”

  Burping politely into his fisted hand, a well-fed 25th Maine Infantry soldier extended a heart-felt “Merry Christmas” to Portland Daily Press readers on Christmas Day, 1862. He had much for which to be thankful, especially the fact that he was not lying in a grave 50 miles south at Fredericksburg, where many other Maine […]

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: “The news spread through the city like wild-fire” — Portlanders celebrate on April 10, 1865

  The first week of April 1865 coincided with the happiest — and likely most accurate — headlines that residents of Portland (Maine) had read in four years. “Glorious News,” the John Adams-edited “Eastern Argus” proclaimed on page 2 on Tuesday, April 4. “The Rebel Capital Fallen! Petersburg in our Possession. The Stars and Stripes […]

The 5th Maine Infantry’s “galvanized Rebel” — Part I

  In tracing their Civil War ancestry, some folks discover (to paraphrase the title of Tony Horwitz’s delightful 1998 book) that they have a “Confederate or Yankee in the Attic”: The family’s connection to the Civil War wore Union blue or Confederate gray.A And then there are the fortunate Civil War descendants, like Elizabeth Kane […]

Mud on the Mules

  Cold rain dripping from his campaign hat, Lt. Col. James “Jim” S. Fillebrown sat squarely in the saddle and watched the mucky chaos engulfing his 10th Maine Infantry Regiment on Wednesday, Jan. 21, 1863. Until three days earlier, Fillebrown and his men had spent the early winter camping near Fairfax Court House in Virginia. […]

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 […]

Meet the Heroes of Evergreen Cemetery: Part II

  Approximately 1,400 Civil War veterans — I call them “heroes,” if only because they fought to preserve our country — lie buried at Evergreen Cemetery on Stevens Avenue in Portland. On a recent sunny, warm summer’s day, Friends of Evergreen docent Lin Brown introduced me to about 50 of them. We toured the 239-acre […]

Meet the Heroes of Evergreen Cemetery: Part I

  Nowhere else in Maine can people meet so many Civil War veterans than at Evergreen Cemetery, located at 672 Stevens Ave., in Portland — — and through its well-organized docent tours, the Friends of Evergreen are anxious to make the introductions. Through the mid-19th century, burials gradually filled Eastern Cemetery and Western Cemetery in […]

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 […]