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.

Al Williams escapes a Gettysburg grave, part 2

As the sun swung westward over Gettysburg on Thursday, July 2, 1863, Sgt. Albert N. Williams of Augusta likely kept watch over the men of Co. G, 19th Maine Infantry Regiment. Commanded by Col. Francis E. Heath, the Maine boys could see blue-colored South Mountain on the western horizon and the Codori Farm buildings much […]

Al Williams escapes a Gettysburg grave, part 1

President Abraham Lincoln delivers his 271-word “Gettysburg Address” during the Nov. 19, 1863 dedication of the new Soldiers’ National Cemetery under development on Cemetery Hill in Gettysburg. (National Park Service) Despite some 8 inches of snow dropped by what the Weather Fools dubbed “Winter Storm Avery” (real people don’t name snowstorms), the 155th anniversary of […]

Appointment with a Wilderness destiny, part 2

The enemy was close, way to close for comfort in midafternoon on Thursday afternoon, May 5, 1864. Sgt. Charles H. Haynes of Ellsworth and Co. E, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment stood with his comrades inside the treeline along the eastern edge of Saunders Field, a large opening amidst the scrub-entangled Wilderness in central Virginia. He […]

Appointment with a Wilderness destiny, part 1

Sgt. Charles H. Haynes of Ellsworth marched toward his appointment with destiny as he crossed the Rapidan River on a pontoon bridge around sunset on Wednesday, May 4, 1864. His life would change dramatically within 72 hours. Twenty-six when he enlisted in Co. I, 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment on December 13, 1861, the married Haynes […]

Brownfield monument depicts a particular young hero

His right hand held palm outward, the soldier looks incredibly young. Turns out he’s just a kid. The designation of November 11 as Veterans Day lay decades in the future as Pvt. Daniel Augustus Bean and Co. A, 11th Maine Infantry Regiment, mustered into the United States Army on Monday, November 11, 1861. Along with […]

Spooked by ol’ Stonewall himself

Does the ghost of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson haunt the Shenandoah Valley, site of his legendary 1862 Valley Campaign? What a silly idea! Family and friends buried Jackson more than 150 years ago in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Lexington, Va. Later renamed the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, the burial ground contains ol’ Stonewall and other Southern […]

Virginia night battle broke a Machias mother’s heart

Sometime in latter November 1863, Capt. Wyer Bradbury opened a letter from home. The news was bad — real bad. A merchant ship’s skipper, Wyer lived in Machias with his wife, Eliza, and the Bradburys had raised at least two sons, James and Willie. Twenty when he enlisted in Co. C, 6th Maine Infantry Regiment […]

John Haley, the reluctant recruit

At Saco in York County, 22-year-old John West Haley wondered if he should enlist as Maine formed five new infantry regiments in summer 1862. Looking back some 15 months, he realized that “in 1861 I concluded I had a duty to perform[,] but hesitated about embarking on this troubled sea,” said Haley, recently a Saco […]

A local gem found during a Civil War search

Sometimes you find a gem when researching the Civil War. While scouting “Things to Do” in a weekend Bangor Daily News, I noticed the paragraph detailing the Corinth Historical Society Museum, open 2-7 p.m. on Wednesdays and 1-3 p.m. on Sundays. The phrase “Civil War artifacts” leaped off the page, so this being Sunday, we […]

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 […]