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.

Newspaper cheers when Augusta arrests a traitorous lawyer

You’ve probably heard this joke: “A lawyer and a snake are lying run over in the road. What’s the difference between them?” Answer: “There are brake marks over the snake.” The lawyer joke circulating in Lewiston, Maine in autumn 1862 went something like this: “What do you call a copperhead lawyer tossed into jail?” Answer: […]

Did God ward off a third strike against Joshua Chamberlain?

Note: This post is adapted from the wartime biography of Joshua L. Chamberlain that I am writing for Emerging Civil War. Shot down during his brigade’s Saturday June 18, 1864 charge at Petersburg, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain should have bled out on the battlefield. He did not. Recivered by stretcher bearers sent into the lead-filled […]

Maine at War will speak January 15 at Pittsfield Public Library

Central Maine fans of Maine at War are invited to join us at 11 a.m., Wednesday, January 15 at the Pittsfield Public Library, 110 Library Street, Pittsfield. Titled Maine Helps Save the Union in 1861 and 1862, our program will examine the vital role that Maine played during the first two years of the Civil […]

Returning Port Hudson veterans meet Hannibal Hamlin

What happens when warriors fresh off the battlefield spend two weeks traveling home? Hopefully they don’t stink, at least. Bloodied at Irish Bend in April 1863 and at Port Hudson that May and June, the 26th Maine Infantry boys probably lined the rails and cheered jubilantly as their steamboat chugged upriver, away from Port Hudson […]

Help erect the first Maine monument in the Shenandoah Valley

With Maine’s bicentennial only a few months away, join us in erecting the first monument erected in the Shenandoah Valley to the Maine soldiers who served there during the Civil War. The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation (of which I am a member) is raising funds to erect a Maine monument at the Third Winchester battlefield, […]

Researchers rely on primary sources for invaluable material

What are the best information sources for researchers focused on Maine and the Civil War? I would argue for what historians often call “primary sources,” material that is chronologically closest to the war years. Let me recommend these primary sources for serious wartime researching. Letters and diaries: Harder to find as 21st-century descendants trash the […]

Fort Hell and the 7th Maine Battery, part 3

Arriving at Fort Sedgwick about Dec. 1, 1864, the 7th Maine Battery’s gunners noticed no protection against indirect mortar fire. Aided by “a detail of infantry,” the Maine and New Jersey gunners used “gabions, sand-bags, timber and earth” to construct “bomb-proofs … along the parapet” to shelter the artillerymen and a large bomb-proof in the […]

Fort Hell and the 7th Maine Battery, part 2

Orders later came in November 1864 for the 7th Maine Battery to occupy Fort Alexander Hays on the Petersburg siege lines. Upon his arrival at the new port, Senior 1st Lt. William Berry Lapham realized the fort was “a soft place to spend the winter months.” His men started chopping trees and building housing and […]

Fort Hell and the 7th Maine Battery, part 1

Ordered to shoot when he wasn’t supposed to, Senior 1st Lt. William Berry Lapham of the 7th Maine Battery promptly complied — and all hell quickly broke loose at the Petersburg position that Union soldiers called “Fort Hell.” An Oxford County man to his core — born in Greenwood, raised in Bethel, settled into a […]

Plan a visit to Pea Ridge National Military Park

The Battle of Pea Ridge remains almost an anomaly, a bloody and important battle fought in northwestern Arkansas, yet almost ignored by Civil War buffs engrossed in wartime action east of the Mississippi River. The Pea Ridge battlefield is worth a visit — and prepare for something different from Gettysburg, Antietam, Manassas, and other familiar […]