Of the 70,000 Mainers who served in Maine Units during the Civil War, some 250 were from Orono, according to the Orono Historical Society. These men fought in major battles including those at Antietam, at Bull Run, at Gettysburg, at Chancellorsville, at The Wilderness, at Manassas and at Vicksburg.
Thirty-nine Orono men died in battle or from injuries or disease, and others died in prison camps.
An 1862 Orono company that reported to the Maine Adjutant-General was led by Capt. John W. Atwell, 1st Lt. Charles W. Ross, 2nd Lt. Elverton W. Butler, 3rd Lt. Charles H. Holt, 4th Lt. John E. Bennoch and Orderly Sgt. Frank Hamblen, according to the “History of Penobscot County, Maine,” published in 1862.
The history included short biographical sketches of “distinguished soldiers” from Orono:
— Brig. Gen. James H. Carleton, who served from the Aroostook War to the Western frontier.
— Surgeon Alden Palmer, who became assistant surgeon of the 2nd Regiment, surgeon of the 9th Regiment and acting chief operating surgeon of the 24th Army Corps. While in charge of a hospital in Wilmington, he came down with a fever and died at age 28.
— Lt. Israel H. Washburn, who enlisted in the 16th Regiment and served at Fredericksburg.
— Capt. Benjamin B. Foster, who was first lieutenant of Co. I of the 11th Maine, assistant adjutant general on General Peck’s staff, then captain of a North Carolina loyal regiment, and aide-de-camp to Gen. G.B. McClellan. Foster also was assistant adjutant general of the 7th Army Corps.
— Delon H. Abbott, hospital steward, assistant surgeon and then surgeon of the 9th Maine.
— C.H. Fernald, Navy seaman, master’s mate and then acting ensign.
— Albert White, who served in Co. I, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, 1862 to the end of the war, attaining the rank of first lieutenant.
— Col. Gideon Mayo, commandant of Camp Pope at Bangor.
— George Vinal, second lieutenant, Co. G.
— Daniel W. Freeze, second lieutenant, Co. I.
— James H. Thompson, surgeon.
— Alfred D. Morse, first lieutenant, Co. A.
— Abbott Coan, first lieutenant, Co. F.
— Edward H.B. Wilson, second lieutenant, Co. F.
— Warren Crowell, quartermaster, then captain, Co. C.
There are many more Orono people listed in the military section of the Penobscot County history, which is available at several libraries. Those named include enlisted men.
The Orono Historical Society is researching the town’s participation in the Civil War in preparation for marking the 150th anniversary of the end of the war in 2015.
The “soldier” on the town’s Civil War Monument in Webster Park was removed from its base a few years back for restoration. Some work has been done, but more funds need to be raised in order to fix up the statue before returning him to his place of honor.
Every little bit helps, so do consider making a contribution to the monument’s restoration by sending a check to Orono Historical Society, PO Box 234, Orono, ME 04473.
Those interested in LD 1662, a bill regarding maintenance of graves of any U.S. veteran of any war in public cemeteries or in ancient burial grounds, will be interested to know that the bill has been referred to the Committee on State and Local Government.
The bill would remove specific requirements about maintaining war veterans’ graves, and add language requiring the municipality to maintain the graves in “good condition and care.”
It was in 1917 that the Legislature first decreed that towns should maintain any cemetery that contained the remains of any Revolutionary War soldier or sailor.
Helen Shaw, a certified genealogist who has researched the Maine laws pertaining to this, writes that it was in 1944 that the Legislature added graves of buried wartime veterans who belonged to the Army, Navy or Marines. The Army then included the Army Air Corps.
In 1999, the pertinent language that became law stipulated that municipalities maintain burials of “any Revolutionary soldiers or sailors or veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States of America who served in any war.”
In the 2013 session of the Legislature, LD 274 split off ancient burying grounds from public cemeteries, stating that municipalities were obliged to maintain veterans’ graves in public cemeteries.
LD 1662 would return the wording about veterans in the law regarding ancient burying grounds.
Helen Shaw is active in many organizations that have an interest in veterans’ graves, but she also is concerned as an individual. Her testimony in a recent public hearing can be read at mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/getTestimonyDoc.asp?id=14001.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.