Maine at War

Cpt. O'Neil W. Robinson

Army officers lobbied for promotion in winter 1863

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Jan. 21, 2013, at 12:50 p.m.
After the Army sacked Capt. Edwin Bachelder for cowardice during the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., Gov. Abner Coburn sought a replacement to lead Co. B, 3rd Maine Infantry. He lacked no applicants, including Sgt. Rufus Crockett, a battle-hardened noncom who felt, “deserving and competent to have a commission” to command …
Maine at War
Lt. Col. Charles Tilden of Castine

The 16th Maine bled ‘a great Sacrifice’ at Fredericksburg

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Dec. 17, 2012, at 10:29 a.m.
The 16th Maine boys know that if they charge those distant hills, they will die. And today there can’t be a more miserable place to die than here, a few miles downriver from a Virginia town called Fredericksburg. Bobby Lee has strung his Confederate artillery and infantry all along the …
A large firing squad executes five Union soldiers convicted for deserting the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, sometime in 1863. Each blindfolded deserter sat on his coffin while awaiting his death; afterwards, each coffin was placed in the grave already dug for it. In South Carolina on Dec. 1, 1862, Alfred Lunt of Maine was shot under similar circumstances for deserting his Maine infantry regiment in Florida and robbing a local woman there. Lunt professed his innocence until the end, but too many eyewitnesses testified against him at his trial.

Hampden native joins circus, life of crime ends in execution

By Brian Swartz on Dec. 02, 2012, at 1:34 p.m.
Bad boy Albert H. Lunt could do no good, so 12 Union soldiers shot him dead at Hilton Head, S.C. on Monday, Dec. 1, 1862. And in case they missed, another dozen armed soldiers waited to use Lunt for target practice. Lunt seemed destined to pay for a life of …
Maine at War
An experienced nurse by September 1862, Isabella Fogg of Calais investigated rumors that Maine men wounded at the Battle of Antietam were receiving poor medical care. Her scathing report exposed the Army's incredible failure to care for thousands of wounded Union soldiers.

Calais nurse investigated Antietam’s hellish aftermath

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Sept. 24, 2012, at 12:53 p.m.
Isabella Fogg discovered a hell on earth after the slaughter at Antietam. Born in New Brunswick in 1823, Isabella Morrison married William Fogg of Calais in 1837. She lived in Calais and had three children, including a son named Hugh Morrison Fogg who went to war in May 1861 with …
Marching in column with their rifled muskets at "right shoulder arms," members of the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment cross the Sunken Road during the Sept. 17, 1862 Battle of Antietam. A veteran of Antietam, Capt. James Hope of the 2nd Vermont Infantry, painted this landscape years after the battle; he likely watched the 7th Maine advance to attack Confederate troops in the distance. The painting is now owned by the National Park Service.

The 7th Maine fought its way out of an Antietam trap

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Sept. 10, 2012, at 11:40 a.m.
Thomas W. Hyde led the 7th Maine Infantry to glory at Antietam, where 25 of his men died for nothing. Hailing from Bath, the 24-year-old Hyde commanded the 7th Maine by Sept. 17, 1862, when death, disease and desertion had thinned the regimental ranks to 15 officers and 166 enlisted …
Maine at War
Capt. Freeman McGilvery

Contrary to press accounts, the 6th Maine Battery fought well

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Aug. 27, 2012, at 1:33 p.m.
Rather than file a protest by firing a 10-pound Parrott rifle at the State Capitol in Augusta, an angry Capt. Freeman McGilvery wrote Gov. Israel Washburn a letter instead. After all, the governor might be more accommodating if cannonballs were not whizzing around his head. Hailing from Prospect, the 38-year-old …
George Washington Bartlett joined the 14th Maine Infantry Regiment as its chaplain in December 1861. Commissioned as a captain, he had no command responsibilities; during the Aug. 5, 1862 Battle of Battle Rouge, La., Bartlett remained at the front lines and witnessed the combat that engulfed his regiment. He later wrote Maine Gov. Israel Washburn about the experience.

Maine soldiers lost their pants during a battle in Louisiana

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Aug. 14, 2012, at 2:25 p.m.
Like the other soldiers belonging to the 14th Maine Infantry, George Washington Bartlett lost his pants during a battle fought at Baton Rouge, La. on Aug. 5, 1862. Born in Litchfield in 1827, Bartlett prospected for California gold, graduated from Bowdoin College (’54), and became a Unitarian minister after graduating …
Audience members listen as Miss Christabell Rose, a Civil War re-enactor, describes the circa-1862 dress modeled by K Hartsgrove of Newport. Both women participated in the Civil War Fashion Show held May 12 in the Prescott Building at the Good Will Hinckley School in Fairfield.

Civil War Fashion Show draws attentive crowd to Hinckley School

By Brian Swartz on May 14, 2012, at 4:09 p.m.
FAIRFIELD | Social status and clothing functionality influenced circa-1862 fashions, as more than 50 people learned during a Civil War Fashion Show held Saturday, May 12, in the Prescott Building at Good Will Hinckley School in Fairfield. Sponsored by the Maine Living History Association, the event featured approximately a …
Black Hawk Putnam of Houlton organized Co. E, 1st Maine Cavalry Regiment, and led his men to war in Virginia in March 1862. Two months later, he was wounded during a disastrous charge at Middletown, Va.; evading capture, Putnam reached Union lines nine days later. He was active in the Grand Army of the Republic after the war.

Black Hawk (Putnam) down

By Brian Swartz on May 07, 2012, at 12:54 p.m.
A Confederate ambush in the Shenandoah Valley shot a Black Hawk down in May 1862. Putnams helped settle Houlton, and to John Varnum and Elizabeth Putnam a son was born on April 28, 1838. Six years earlier a Sauk chief had led several Indian tribes in a brief and tragic …

Confederate artillery ambushed Maine cavalrymen in Virginia

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on April 23, 2012, at 4:51 p.m.
Masked batteries drove Capt. Robert F. Dyer and his patrol bonkers on Tuesday, April 15, 1862. Early that morning, Dyer received orders to take his Co. C, 1st Maine Cavalry Regiment and conduct “a reconnaissance on the line of the Orange and Alexandria R.R. to the Rappahannock river,” as he …
James Henry Carleton of Lubec commanded the California Column that drove Confederate troops from Arizona and New Mexico in spring 1862. Carleton's troops fought Confederates and Apaches.

Lubec cavalryman saved the Southwest for the Union

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on April 10, 2012, at 4:05 p.m.
Bandits and Confederates, beware: There’s a new “sheriff” in Tucson, Ariz. He’s James Henry Carleton from Lubec in far-away Maine, and he’s kicking desperado and Rebel butts all the way from Los Angeles to the Rio Grande. Born to Abigail and John Carleton on Dec. 27, 1814, James Henry discovered …
Maine at War
Capt. John E. Bryant of Fayette raised Co. C of the 8th Maine Infantry Regiment. He served for a few years along the Carolina and Georgia coasts.

Peru farm family paid heavy price to preserve the Union

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on March 26, 2012, at 4:37 p.m.
After his son enlisted in the 8th Maine Infantry Regiment and left Maine for a South Carolina cruise in 1861, Stephen G. Tracy decided he should join up and save the country, too. Both men should have stayed home. By spring 1861, Stephen Tracy farmed land in Franklin Plantation, a …
Born in Waterville, Charles Heywood became a Marine officer and fought in the savage March 8, 1862 sea battle between the USS Cumberland and the CSS Virginia, a Confederate ironclad. The battle took place at Hampton Roads, Va. Heywood later became the ninth Marine Corps commandant.

Waterville’s Charles Heywood battled an ironclad enemy

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on March 12, 2012, at 4:58 p.m.
Charles Heywood kept his cannon firing even as his ship sank. Born in Waterville on Oct. 3, 1839, Heywood was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps at New York City on April 5, 1858. Thirty-five months later he reported aboard the USS Cumberland, a 24-gun sloop …
Born in Hampden in 1802, Dorothea Dix championed the rights of the mentally ill and prisoners during the mid-19th century. After she volunteered her services to the Union in spring 1861, President Abraham Lincoln named her the Army’s superintendent of women nurses.

Abraham Lincoln owed Dorothea Dix a favor or two

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Feb. 27, 2012, at 4:52 p.m.
Did Dorothea Dix help save two Lincolns? The evidence suggests that she did, at least indirectly. Dix hailed from Hampden, where she was born to the destitute Joseph and Mary Dix on April 4, 1802. By the 1840s Dix championed the rights of the mentally ill and prisoners throughout the …
John S. French, who joined the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment as a private in spring 1861, was a commissioned officer by the time this photo was taken sometime after mid-June 1863. He was a naturally talented soldier who rose through the ranks to lead men into battle at Rappahannock Station, Va. that November.

John French avoided the temptations that awaited Union soldiers

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Jan. 09, 2012, at 4:48 p.m.
John S. French epitomized a Maine recruiting sergeant’s dream: a naturally talented youth who took so easily to soldiering that he would earn a battlefield commission — and keep himself out of trouble. Hailing from Albion, the 21-year-old French enlisted as a private in the Lewiston Light Guard on April …
An empty right sleeve identifies Ira Gardner as the second man from the left when members of the Edwin S. Rogers Post, Grand Army of the Republic, formed up in Patten on May 30, 1908.

Neither a sinking ship nor attempted murder could stop Ira Gardner

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Dec. 12, 2011, at 5:22 p.m.
Ira Gardner survived a ship collision on the Mississippi River and murderous Copperheads in Old Town to reach Patten “and my best girl” — but she was 100 miles away when he arrived home. Yet Helen Darling rushed to Patten to spend time with her sweetheart, who had been away …
In April 1862, Benjamin Franklin Hinkley and the 8th Maine Infantry Regiment helped capture Fort Pulaski, which guarded the Savannah River in Georgia. Fort Pulaski National Monument now preserves the restored fort, which is a “must-see” site for Civil War buffs.

Inaccurate rebel shooting let a LaGrange farmer come home alive

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on Oct. 11, 2011, at 3:58 p.m.
Credit inaccurate shooting by Confederates for populating LaGrange with Hinkleys — and credit inaccurate shooting by Benjamin Franklin Hinkley for populating LaGrange with crows. Hinkleys figure prominently in LaGrange lore: • First settler: David Hinkley Jr. in 1822. • First frame house: built by David Hinkley Jr.Story continues below advertisement. …
Marcellus Emery printed The Democrat in fourth-floor offices in the Wheelwright-Clark Block in downtown Bangor. A mob destroyed his printing press and hurled it into West Market Square on Aug. 12, 1861.

Freedom of the press went flying in Bangor in August 1861

By Brian Swartz, Special to the NEWS on Sept. 19, 2011, at 5:34 p.m.
Freedom of the press — at least the press owned by Bangor Democrat Marcellus Emery — literally flew out the window on Monday, Aug. 12, 1861. By that summer, many Maine Democrats opposed the fledgling Civil War. In his 1967 graduate thesis “Civil War Bangor,” professor John DiMeglio wrote that …
Hailing from Leeds in Androscoggin County, Oliver Otis Howard commanded a Union brigade at First Manassas and fought throughout the Civil War. He later led the Freedmen’s Bureau, which assisted former slaves seeking better lives in the South.

Oliver Otis Howard fought Confederate soldiers and an American president

By Brian Swartz on Aug. 08, 2011, at 4:25 p.m.
Col. Oliver Otis Howard brought Maine to the fight, caught partial blame for the defeat and his fearless battlefield leadership earned him a general’s star. As Confederate and Union troops battled atop Henry House Hill at Manassas, Va. on July 21, 1861, Howard commanded the 3rd Brigade comprising four infantry …
At Manassas National Battlefield Park in Virginia, only the foundation stones mark where the wood-framed Robinson House stood on the northern edge of Henry House Hill in July 1861. The 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment charged past the house during the Battle of Manassas.

William Deane carried the California Flag into battle at Manassas

By Brian Swartz, Special to the BDN on July 11, 2011, at 9:15 p.m.
Near sunset on Saturday, July 20, 1861, Col. Charles Jameson ordered the 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment “drawn up in a hollow square” near Centerville, Va., according to James Mundy in his book “Second to None.” Color Sergeant William J. Deane of Bangor stood with the six-man color guard. As Jameson …