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.

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 […]

2nd Maine deserters pop up in odd places

Historical records tell us that when the 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment mustered out in May 1863, the three-year recruits transferred to the 20th Maine while the two-year men went home. Not every 2nd Maine lad went in one direction or the other. In fact, while sailing to Bangor in May 1863, the regiment strewed deserters […]

Mainer offers tours highlighting Jackson’s Valley Campaign

Civil War buffs traveling with Shenandoah Civil War Tours can glimpse the 1862 Valley Campaign through the eyes of Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, courtesy of Peter Dalton of Northport. Passionate about the Civil War since he was in sixth grade in Belfast, Peter knows the Shenandoah Valley intimately, and he shares battle details and wartime […]

Chamberlain an officer? You gotta be kidding me!

As the 16th Maine Infantry slowly coalesced at August in summer ’62, the War Department asked Maine to raise three additional infantry regiments. Each would number around 1,000 men, plus 35-37 officers (if you counted the surgeon and assistant surgeon). Sitting at a desk in Brunswick on Monday, July 14, the 33-year-old professor of modern […]

Confederate re-enactors bring Southern realism to Civil War events

Only Texas Avenue and a bit of grass separated the Confederate and Union camps during Drums on the Penobscot, held August 10-12 in Bangor. However, unlike their counterparts from the Civil War, these Johnny Rebs and Billy Yanks were not shooting at each other. In fact the re-enactors often appear at the events during the […]

Readfield father threatens to turn recruiter into dead hero

Sgt. Maj. Abner R. Small of Waterville enjoyed a snug recruiting gig at the State House in Augusta as Stonewall Jackson and his hard-marching infantry battered three Union armies in the Shenandoah Valley in May 1862. Confident of victory in the Valley and on the Peninsula, the War Department had halted recruiting efforts in April. […]

A moment in time with Mr. Lincoln

At least two participants in the Bangor Historical Society-hosted Drums on the Penobscot traveled a bit in time on Sunday, August 12, courtesy of Abraham Lincoln. Portrayed by Steve and Sharon Wood of Claremont, N.H., the president and his wife, Mary, visited the Union and Confederate camps that morning. The Lincolns strolled arm in arm […]

Organizers, re-enactors deem Drums on the Penobscot a “huge success”

It’s not every day that Maine artillerymen fire a salute to President Abraham Lincoln, but such was the order of the day as the Bangor Historical Society hosted Drums on the Penobscot: A Civil War Experience, held August 10-12 on the UMA-Bangor campus at Bangor International Airport. The second annual Civil War weekend organized by […]