Tag Archives: Theodore Gerrish

Finding the dead at Gettysburg

Twenty-four days after arriving at Gettysburg, Dr. Albion Cobb of the 4th Maine Infantry finally left his patients long enough to explore “the field of battle.” On Saturday, July 25, Cobb walked across the terrain defended by Union troop and gazed in astonishment at the soldiers still there. “I find the whole country planted with […]

Appomattox Road: “We had all loved Abraham Lincoln so much” — assassination

  Victorious Union troops saw elation shift to melancholy on the Ides of April 1865. The mood shift began with growling stomachs. After stacking their arms and receiving their paroles on Wednesday, April 12, Confederate troops had “rapidly departed to their homes,” commented Pvt. Theodore Gerrish of the 20th Maine Infantry. By Thursday “there was […]

Appomattox Road: Chamberlain accepts the surrender — April 12, 1865

  Tension stirred the blue-clad regiments stretched along Lynchburg Stage Road in mid-morning on Wednesday, April 12, 1865. “The Johnnies are coming,” a 20th Maine lad whispered within earshot of Pvt. Theodore Gerrish. “There they are,” a comrade said, chin-pointing to his right. Not far away, Brig. Gen. Joshua Chamberlain sat on his horse amidst […]

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 wanted to be there when the rebels found the last ditch” — Pursuit

  As the sun rose daily in early April 1865, the Maine boys pursuing Robert E. Lee’s disintegrating army sensed that the jig was almost up — and the thought of final victory buoyed their morale. “The end seemed close at hand,” recalled 1st Lt. Robert Brady Jr. of the 11th Maine Infantry. Only a […]

Appomattox Road: “The awful tide was rolling toward us” — Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Battle of White Oak Road

  “Daylight dawned, cold, wet, and cheerless” in the 20th Maine Infantry’s temporary camp west of Petersburg, Va. on Thursday, March 30, 1865, said Pvt. Theodore Gerrish of Co. H. The previous day, elements of the 1st Division, 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac, had captured the Confederate earthworks stretching across the Quaker Road near […]

Appomattox Road: “A heavy blow struck me just above the left breast” — Joshua Chamberlain at Quaker Road

  The end was approaching. By late March 1865, “we felt sure that he (Ulysses Simpson Grant) was preparing some great movement, and this must be still to the left, to cut [Robert E.] Lee’s communications and envelop his existing lines,” said Brig. Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th […]

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 […]

Spotsylvania Court House, Part II: “They were brutes”

  After Col. Charles Herring reached the expanding battlefield northwest of Spotsylvania Court House, Va. at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 8, 1864, Union generals kept maneuvering his ad hoc brigade hither and yon throughout the day to meet threats imagined and real as fighting engulfed nearby Laurel Hill. At 6 p.m., according to Pvt. […]

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 […]