Meet the local heroes
When Confederate and Union troops collided at Gettysburg, Penn. 150 years ago, Maine artillery batteries and cavalry and infantry regiments played critical roles in “saving the day” for the United States. To honor those hard-fighting outfits, The Weekly introduces in this issue some of the hundreds of men from the lower Penobscot Valley who participated in the battle.
Mom gave her permission for Fred to fight
The battle’s toll was personal, as Hannah Rogers of Bangor discovered.
On Wednesday, July 15, the Bangor Daily Whig & Courier reported the “Death Of A Bangor Soldier. Intelligence has been received of the death of [Pvt.] Oscar Wyer, a member of the 20th Maine, (formerly of the 2nd), a son of Mr. Robert Wyer, of this city — He was killed at Gettysburg in the battle of the [July] 2nd … being shot through the abdomen with a rifle ball. He was a brave soldier, and universally loved and respected by his comrades. He was buried on the field.”
Assigned to the 20th Maine’s Co. F, which was commanded by Capt. Samuel Keene of Rockland, Wyer was killed in action during the fight on Little Round Top. So was Pvt. Charles F. Hall, another Bangor boy
On Thursday, July 16, the Daily Whig & Courier reported that “Fred H. Rogers of Company K, 4th Maine Volunteers, son of [the] widow [of] Leonard W. Rogers of this city was instantly killed at the battle of Gettysburg.
“He was about 20 years old. He was a brave and gallant soldier, and was much respected by his comrades. Fred was formerly in our employ, and we have watched his career with interest. He was in the first battle of Bull Run and has been in every battle by the 4th Maine since that time. His money was all sent home to his mother, except one dollar per month.”
An early enlistee — he joined the 4th Maine, a Midcoast regiment, on May 3, 1861 — Rogers willingly went with little pay so he could support his widowed mother, Hannah. Rogers’ father, carpenter Leonard Rogers, had died in August 1860, thus denying the family a regular income.
When the 17-year-old Fred informed his mother that he wanted to join the 4th Maine, Hannah granted her consent and certified on his enlistment papers that he was 18 already.
The Bangor Museum and History Center has published on the Maine Memory Network three letters that Fred Rogers wrote Hannah, with the last written from “Camp near Potomac Creek Va.” on March 23, 1863. By then the 4th Maine had participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg. “Dear Mother … I can assure you that Maine has got its name up during this campaign and so high too that it will remain up in the estimation of other and more popular states,” Rogers proudly stated.
“When our division went into the Battle at Fredericksburg Gen. [David] Birney was overheard to say … that he thanked God that he had got 3 Maine regiments in his division for they would not run from anything no matter what example the other Regts. might set.
“Yes, as long as I have been in the field I never yet saw the time that I was not proud to say that I am a Maine man,” Rogers wrote.
A few months later Hannah received the official news about her son’s death at the Devil’s Den. Fred lies buried at Oak Hill Cemetery in Brewer; his name is inscribed on the Soldiers’ Monument at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor.
From mutineers to war heroes
Two Orrington soldiers, Pvt. Charles E. Bowker and Pvt. Augustus N. Lufkin, belonged to Co. B, 20th Maine Infantry, but they had taken a circuitous route to reach this undermanned regiment commanded by Brewer’s Joshua Chamberlain.
Bowker, then 18, and Lufkin, a 25-year-old teacher, had signed on for three years with Co. C, 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment earlier in the war. In the movie “Gettysburg” some 120 mutineers from the 2nd Maine are unceremoniously dumped on Chamberlain. He’s even told that he can shoot them if he so desires.
Bowker and Lufkin were among those mutineers, men who figured that when the 2nd Maine went defunct after 24 months that they owned Uncle Sam no additional 12 months of service. Chamberlain did not shoot them; nor did Bowker and Lufkin participate in the 20th Maine’s epic stand at Little Round Top on July 2.
They were on detached duty with Battery L, 1st Ohio Artillery. Both men survived the battle.
Bowker vanished during the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864. Lufkin, an 1861 graduate of Bowdoin College, earned a commission as a company captain with the 45th United States Colored Troops. He returned home to Orrington and later served in the Maine Legislature.
With Chamberlain at Little Round Top
Many Bangor-area men fought in the 20th Maine’s ranks at Little Round Top. “In the field” on Tuesday, July 21, Col. Joshua Chamberlain of Brewer composed a report to Maine Gov. Abner Coburn.
“I embrace a rare opportunity — namely a day’s halt within a mile of our baggage — to write you in reference to the affairs of our Reg’t in which, I am well aware, you feel the deepest interest,” the report began.
“Within a month this Regiment has been engaged in the most active & honorable service — taking a conspicuous part in three fights in as many different states within that time & in all of them doing as well as the best,” Chamberlain wrote.
“At the great battle of Gettysburg, however, the Regiment won distinguished honor,” he noted. “A whole Rebel Brigade was opposed to this Regiment, charging on us with desperate fury, in columns of Regiments, so that we had to contend with a front of fresh troops after each struggle.”
The 20th Maine would not slip into state legend for many years, but Chamberlain’s report laid the groundwork.
“After two hours fighting on the defensive, our loss had been so great & the remaining men were so much exhausted, having fired all our ‘sixty rounds’ & all the cartridges we could gather from the scattered boxes of the fallen around us, friend & foe, I saw no way left but to take the offensive & accordingly, we charged on the enemy trying ‘cold steel’ on them,” he told Coburn.
“The result was we drove them entirely out of the field killing one hundred and fifty of them and taking three hundred & eight prisoners and two hundred & seventy five stand[s] of arms,” Chamberlain wrote.
The 20th Maine lost 38 men killed or mortally wounded and another 92 men wounded. The Bangor-area men counted in that number included:
• Pvt. Samuel Chase of Winterport, killed;
• Sgt. William Jordan of Bangor, killed;
• Sgt. Isaac Lathrop of Bangor, wounded on July 2. He died the next day;
• Corp. Vincent Pinhorn of Orrington, wounded in the hip.
Colonel composes Carmel citation
Writing from Gettysburg on Monday, July 6, Col. Richard Coulter of the 11th Pennsylvania Infantry Regiment composed a detail report about “the part taken by my command in the action with the enemy on July 1.”
He cited two senior officers for their conduct during the fighting, but referred to only one enlisted man by name.
“I wish to also call attention to the conduct of one of” the “mounted orderlies” assigned to Brig. Gen. John Cleveland Robinson, who commanded the 2nd Division to which Coulter’s regiment was assigned. Coulter referred to “Sergeant [Charles K.] Johnson, of the First Maine Cavalry.
“The promptitude with which he conveyed orders and communicated information was highly creditable,” Coulter wrote. “He has proved himself on this as well as on other fields to be a brave soldier.”
Johnson hailed from Carmel.
Hampden native fought for Minnesota
Standing almost forgotten among the overhanging trees and surrounding gravestones at Locust Grove Cemetery in Hampden is a Civil War monument etched with the names of fallen heroes. The monument also displays information as to where and when a Hampden man died in the service of his country.
Among the names etched there is that of “W. Lufkin.” He actually was Sgt. Wade Lufkin of Co. C, 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment.
According to Jean London, the Hampden Historical Society archivist, Lufkin was born to Benjamin and Betsy Lufkin on Jan. 1, 1837. He “lived later in Minnesota,” and “before entering the service he was a lumberman,” she indicated.
The 26-year-old Lufkin was among many loggers who arrived at Gettysburg with the 1st Minnesota. On Thursday, July 2, eight companies of the 1st Minnesota made a suicidal bayonet charge into two Confederate brigades advancing to shatter the Union line west of Cemetery Ridge. Lufkin was among the screaming soldiers who swarmed into the enemy ranks; he made it back, but 215 of his comrades were left dead or wounded on the battlefield.
On Friday afternoon, the 1st Minnesota helped repel the large-scale Confederate assault known as Pickett’s Charge. Wade Lufkin was shot and killed.
He lies buried among Minnesota’s hallowed dead at the National Cemetery in Gettysburg.
They had a way with animals
Not every Maine soldier shouldered a musket or manned a cannon at Gettysburg.
Pvt. Albert N. Eaton of Old Town served with the 6th Maine Infantry, but he and privates Charles D. Davis of Bucksport, Jerome Hyde of Corinth, and Arthur I. Saunders of Orland apparently had a way with draft animals and wagons; all four men worked as teamsters during the battle. This skill kept them out of harm’s way.
Often overlooked by visitors touring the Gettysburg battlefield are the Union graves in the National Cemetery, which stretches between the Baltimore Pike and the Taneytown Road.
The graves are arranged in arcs by state; the flat stones are set flush with the Pennsylvania grass. Maine has slightly more than 100 such stones, many bearing a soldier’s name and unit.
But some stones simply read “Unknown.” Men did vanish during the war; some Maine boys died in Southern prisons, and at least one Washington County soldier disappeared altogether from a Union hospital in Virginia.
Among Maine’s “unknowns” buried at Gettysburg, is one of them Pvt. Folsom Dutton, an Old Town boy who went “missing” on July 2, 1863? He belonged to the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment.
And does Pvt. William H. Woodbury of Frankfort lie among the “unknowns”? He vanished as the 4th Maine fought at the Devil’s Den on July 2.
The 4th Maine’s bloody stand at the Devil’s Den left more local men initially listed as missing and later confirmed as captured.
Among them were Corp. Rufus Bickford and privates John Donahue and Charles Rose (also wounded) from Bangor, Pvt. Ephraim Tasker from Dixmont, and Pvt. Charles A. Phinney from Winterport.
“He cut quite a dashing figure”
Quartermaster Sgt. Orin S. Haskell of Levant was born in Detroit in Somerset County in mid-January 1836. His parents, John and Winnefred Haskell, moved to Levant some years later.
Orin Haskell later worked as a clerk in Salem, Mass.; soon after the Civil War began, he came home to Levant. Haskell joined Co. A, 1st Maine Cavalry as a private in October 1861.
According to Levant historian Lynn Rogers, Haskell “had a dark complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, and was 5’5” tall.” Referring to Haskell’s photograph in the 1st Maine Cavalry’s regimental history, she wrote that “[I] must say, he cut quite a dashing figure.”
Haskell “served as company clerk, [and] regimental quartermaster (his position at Gettysburg) and was promoted for his meritorious service and at the end of the war was serving as first lieutenant of Company A,” Rogers indicated.
Haskell later moved to Pittsfield and helped launch the Pittsfield Advertiser in 1882. A long-time member of the Maine Press Association, Haskell held various posts in the local government. After his death in 1910, he was buried in the Pittsfield Village Cemetery.
Eddy made a good orderly
Among the Bangor-area men serving in Co. D, 1st Maine Cavalrywas Pvt. Eleazer Eddy of Eddington. At Gettysburg he was assigned as an orderly to Brig. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg.
As an orderly, Eddy exemplified the typical 1st Maine Cavalry trooper. Senior Army officers figured the Maine cavalrymen “make good ‘Orderlies’” because “they are smart and intelligent, they are Maine Men — they can read and write, and they can act equal to any men in the service,” wrote Lt. Col. Calvin Douty in November 1862.
Briefly the regiment’s commander until his death in June 1863, he underlined specific phrases in this letter.