All posts by Brian Swartz

Brian Swartz

About Brian Swartz

Welcome to "Maine at War," the blog about the roles played by Maine and her sons and daughters in the Civil War. I am a Civil War buff and a newspaper editor recently retired from the Bangor Daily News. Maine sent hero upon hero — soldiers, nurses, sailors, chaplains, physicians — south to preserve their country in the 1860s. “Maine at War” introduces these heroes and heroines, who, for the most part, upheld the state's honor during that terrible conflict. We tour the battlefields where they fought, and we learn about the Civil War by focusing on Maine’s involvement with it. Be prepared: As I discover to this very day, the facts taught in American classrooms don’t always jibe with Civil War reality. I can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net.

The Confederate Yankee of Belfast

Just when you think every Maine-buried Confederate has been located, another one pops up. This time, however, the Confederate — George J. Grotton — became a Mainer. His tale begins with his birth in Lombard, Spain on August 22, 1835. His father was a Spaniard, his mother a Maine girl born in Lewiston. Arriving in […]

Suicide by ship

Six weeks after Lee surrendered at Appomattox, did the Civil War claim yet another victim aboard a Maine-bound steamer? Launched in 1863, the side-wheel steamship Katahdin stopped at various Maine ports while plying a regular round-trip route between Bangor and Boston. Late day on Friday, May 19, 1865, crewmen slipped the Katahdin’s hawsers at a […]

Emancipation: An opportunity for promotion

The Emancipation Proclamation turned on the manpower spigot for the new black regiments forming at various locations in the United States. Since only whites could serve as officers in those regiments, many white soldiers sought higher status and pay by lobbying for commissions in the new units. Even discharged soldiers got in on the act. […]

Emancipation: Free the blacks, if only to save the whites

Sworn into office as Maine’s governor in early January 1863, Abner Coburn of Skowhegan strongly supported raising black regiments — and not just for applying more pressure on the struggling Confederacy. Enlisting “the negroes for armed service in holding Southern ‘forts, positions and stations’ will be an immeasurable relief to the population of the North,” […]

Help erect a Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley

Help erect a Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley If you’ve ever buzzed through the Shenandoah Valley on Interstate 81, you can appreciate the incredibly beautiful natural surroundings. There are the Blue Ridge Mountains, Massanutten, the Luray Valley, and the farms and rolling fields and hills reaching far away from I-81 and the parallel Valley […]

Emancipation: The Maine press reacts, Part 2

Having printed the Emancipation Proclamation in its entirety and without acerbic commentary in the January 9, 1863 edition of his Republican Journal, publisher William H. Simpson understood that an influx of black soldiers would buttress the Union’s battle- and disease-thinned ranks. More Union soldiers and sailors meant more military pressure applied to Confederate defenders already […]

Emancipation: The Maine press reacts, Part 1

As December 1862 faded past Christmas, the calendar suddenly assumed significance for black Americans and many white Mainers who supported or despised them — or did not know what to think upon coming into close contact for the first time with freed slaves. The “contrabands (escaped slaves) are coming in continually, so that we have […]

Emancipation: Criticize Abe Lincoln at your own peril

A Phippsburg officer learned the hard way that shooting his mouth off about presidential policy (i.e., the Emancipation Proclamation) was a real bad idea. William H. Wheeler, publisher of the Bangor-based Daily Whig & Courier, reported on January 2, 1863 that “there are now three regiments of colored troops and 150 [men in a] heavy […]

Vandal strikes the Monroe Civil War monument

Who vandalized the Civil War monument in Monroe? Has a Confederate-hater mistaken the great coat-clad Union infantryman atop the monument for a Johnny Reb? Let’s look back 130½ years to see how this story began. On Memorial Day (Monday, May 30) 1887, hundreds of people trekked to the Village Cemetery on the Monroe Road in […]

Stoneman’s Raid: the 1st Maine troopers find their moxie

Day after day in the latter half of April 1863, inclement weather and heavy rain delayed the departure of Maj. Gen. George Stoneman and his Army of the Potomac cavalry on a deep-penetration into central Virginia, behind the lines of the Army of Northern Virginia. Only after an April 27 chewing out by Joe Hooker […]