Death surrounded the nurses of Gettysburg, part 2

Rain falling since July 14, 1863 had turned the grounds at III Corps’ hospital at Gettysburg “so wet and muddy” that nurses wore India-rubber boots to get around, said nurse Emily Bliss Souder, a Kennebunk-born Mainer now living in Philadelphia with her husband and surviving children. Not letting up until July 18, the rain cooled […]

Death surrounded the nurses of Gettysburg, part 1

At 7:30 a.m., Tuesday, July 14, several Philadelphia nurses left Baltimore on a Northern Central Railroad train for Hanover Junction. Among the women was 49-year-old Emily Bliss Souder, née Thacher, born to Stephen and Harriet (Preble) Thacher at Kennebunk in York County in June 1814. Her parent later moved to Lubec, where brother Joseph A. […]

What good are Union monuments at Gettysburg (part 3)?

After questioning the usefulness of Union monuments in part 1 and explaining their 19th-century value in part 2, I think that maybe there’s hope — or at least its inkling — in at least some Americans taking pride in what those monuments represent. In late June I conducted research at Gettysburg, across Stone Mountain, and […]

What good are Union monuments (part 2)? the United States has endured a year-plus of monument and statue bashing, what good are Union monuments on Independence Day 2021? I will come to that. However, a crowd that gathered in Hampden, Maine as the United States celebrated its 88th birthday on July 4, 1864 knew exactly what one particular Union monument represented. […]

What good are Union monuments (part 1)?

Not satisfied with tearing down Confederate monuments in 2020, some history haters turned their ignorance on Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. The Confederate monuments, many Americans might understand the reasons for demolishing, but vandalizing Lincoln and Grant statues? Lincoln never owned a slave and freed them all. Grant freed a slave soon after inheriting […]

Civil War fort protects entrance to Down East Maine river

In far Down East Maine, well-preserved earthworks recall when people feared that a Confederate sea raider — perhaps the notorious CSS Alabama or CSS Florida — might steam up the muddily mercurial Machias River and attack Machias, a lumber port and the Washington County shiretown. Constructed in Machiasport (the town separating Machias from the open […]

Hannibal Hamlin sparks life into a dying soldier

Vice President Hannibal Hamlin was no faith healer, laying his hands on sick people, and nor did he peddle miracle cures involving mysterious liquids packaged in colored bottles. But one sick young Maine soldier supposedly on his way to a military graveyard credited the unassuming vice president with keeping that particular grave unfilled. Frank D. […]

Edward Baker was country before there was “country”

Edward Baker was a country boy, all the way. He was raised in the country, he fought and died for his country, and his family gave him a country funeral. Born to Joseph D. and Belinda C. Baker in Orrington on September 22, 1843, Edward grew up in what’s called Orrington Center, focused around the […]

20th Maine: A warrior goes to glory, a bastard to prison, part 3

As the 20th Maine fought at Little Round Top, Pvt. George Washington Buck stood in the Co. H firing line. Buck had been a sergeant until the regiment’s bastard quartermaster, 1st Lt. Alden Litchfield, had physically assaulted the sick Buck in camp and then reported him for insubordination. The 20th Maine’s colonel, Adelbert Ames, had […]

Hell dumps a bastard on the 20th Maine, part 2

Among the privates assigned to Co. H, 20th Maine Infantry, was Theodore Gerrish, a 5-11, teen-aged farmer from Falmouth. Born in New Brunswick, he would become the 20th Maine’s first official historian, publishing his memoirs 17 years after the war. Gerrish remembered Sgt. George Washington Buck of Linneus as “a young man … a brave, […]