In 1890 the residents of Orono erected a monument honoring its citizens who served in the American Civil War. From 1861 to 1864, approximately 10 percent of Orono residents (population 2,544 circa 1860) went off to war.
These 250 Orono men joined the 70,000 other Maine men who contributed to the Civil War. Some 39 Orono men are listed as having died in the battlefield or from wounds or disease. An unknown number died in prison camps, where they were buried in mass graves. Other men died years later due to war-related causes.
Orono men and boys served in 27 Maine Civil War units, including infantry, heavy artillery, militia, sharpshooters, the 1st Maine Cavalry (which had an Orono farrier), and the Navy. Some regiments had only one or two Orono participants while others, such as the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, had as many as 60.
Five Orono doctors served as field staff in different regiments. Orono soldiers were part of Maine regiments that engaged in major battles such as Gettysburg, Bull Run, Antietam, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Manassas, and Vicksburg, and some were sent as far as New Orleans.
In 2015 the United States will mark the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War.
The Orono Historical Society is researching Orono’s role in the war and plans to present a spring lecture with stories of the town’s soldiers and citizens. Sources for this research are based on “The History of Penobscot County, Maine,” published by Williams, Chase and Co., 1882 and “Old Orono Oddments,” by Dr. Douglas Glanville, a collection of historical anecdotes published by The Penobscot Times in1992.
The focus now is to repair and restore Orono’s oldest monument, raised in memory of the town’s soldiers in the American Civil War. Contributions may be sent to the Orono Historical Society, PO Box 324, Orono, ME 04473.
Polly Camp and Theresa Morrow serve on the Orono Historical Society Board of Directors.