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, […]

20th Maine: the warrior and the bastard, part 1

His gray eyes peering through swirling gunsmoke, Pvt. George Washington Buck loaded and fired as fast as possible as Alabamians raged against the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment’s left flank on July 2, 1863. Numbering three officers, five sergeants, five corporals, and 33 privates, Buck’s Co. H reported to Capt. Joseph F. Land, a black-eyed merchant […]

Fort Knox slates mid-July Civil War encampment

Join Maine at War as we travel in time to the 1860s as Fort Knox State Park hosts a Civil War Living History Encampment from Friday, July 16 through Sunday, July 18. The three-day event will feature living history demonstrations of Civil War life, including camp life, cannon firing, garrison operations, and guard mount. Participating […]

Winfield Scott Hancock runs afoul a Maine sea captain, part 2

Editor’s note: You can read part 1 here. Soon after Robert E. Lee launched his artillery bombardment at Gettysburg on Friday, July 3, 1863, some 115 to 150 Confederate cannons fired steadily, “the air was filled with projectiles, there being scarcely an instant but that several were seen bursting at once,” said Maj. Gen, Winfield […]

Winfield Scott Hancock runs afoul a Maine sea captain, part 1

After sunrise on Friday, July 3, 1863, Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery started bringing batteries “into line on the low ground on our left center,” along Cemetery Ridge’s southern slope. His guns faced west toward distant Seminary Ridge and the nearer Emmitsburg Road, along which Confederates “were massing artillery in force.” Hailing originally from Stockton Springs […]

A spot of tea dispels the post-Gettysburg dark

When the going got tough, Maine nurse Sarah Sampson brewed tea — and her worried traveling companions suddenly relaxed in the southern Pennsylvania darkness. Gettysburg “was a field of blood, on which the demon of Destruction revelled [sic],” observed Dr. Jonathan Letterman, medical director for the Army of the Potomac. Three days’ fighting had left […]