A new monument now honors the Mainers who fought at Third Winchester on September 19, 1864 — and who also served during Phil Sheridan’s 1864 Valley Campaign.
Peter Dalton, a Maine Civil War historian and author now living in the Shenandoah Valley, and his wife Cyndi envisioned placing a monument on the Virginia battlefield where Sheridan’s Yankees defeated Jubal Early’s Confederates during a hard-fought battle that caused some 9,000 casualties. The Daltons worked closely with the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation, the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and many private supporters to turn the monument into reality.
The Maine units participating in the battle were the 7th,12th, 14th, and 29th Maine infantry regiments and the 1st Maine Battery and the 5th Maine Battery. According to Dalton, 231 Mainers were casualties at Third Winchester: 25 killed, 188 wounded, and 18 missing, “a fairly significant number” of the approximately 2,000 Mainers who marched with Sheridan. Another 434 Mainers became casualties during his campaign.
A contractor erected the 10-foot polished granite monument on the Third Winchester battlefield on Wednesday, November 17, 2021. Although the monument looks dark gray, its proper shade is called “topaz blue,” Dalton indicated.
“This is the first monument to the Union on this battlefield and the only one recognizing Maine’s role during the Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia,” said SVBF Chairman Emeritus Nicholas Picerno.
The SVBF “owns the land on which the monument has been placed,” said Picerno, the nation’s leading expert on the 1st-10th-29th Maine infantry regiments. “The 29th Maine Infantry fought on this battlefield and lost their commanding officer to a mortal wound. Other Maine regiments fought just as valiantly with the same courage and determination, and they, too, lost men in this battle.”
“Not only did the battle affect the soldiers who fought and died, it also had an impact on the Maine home front. It created widows, orphans, and parents who lost sons on the battlefields,” Picerno said. “These loses affected Mainers for generations to come.
“It was important to me to memorialize their sacrifice,” he said. “It was felt we should recognize the sacrifice made by Maine on this battlefield. Every Maine regiment that fought in the battle of Third Winchester is listed on the monument, including the names of two generals from Maine.”
Planning began several years ago, and private contributions “completely” funded the monument, which cost “pretty close to $20,000,” Dalton said. “We did get a declaration of support from the Maine Legislature,” but no public funds were applied to the project.
Spruce Head resident Morris C. Berry, whose grandfather, Hiram Berry, served in the 12th Maine Infantry Regiment from 1861 to 1866, took a strong interest in the project. “I contacted Peter Dalton and asked how I could be of help. He told me that the group was raising funds to support the costs involved.”
An active member of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Berry discussed the monument with the Department of Maine. “They agreed to support the fund financially,” he noted. “In addition, I requested that individual camps support it.” Many SUVCW members did so.
Berry also asked “the national organization to support the monument.” He applied for a $2,000 grant, which was approved.
“It means a great deal to me,” having the monument completed, he said. “To have those young men recognized for what they accomplished at the battle of Third Winchester in September of 1864 is great!”
The archaeologist hired by the SVBF to search the monument’s 15-by-15-foot site for battlefield artifacts “found 11,” including “one bullet you could tell had actually been fired,” Dalton said. “To find that many things at this point [in time] is quite amazing.”
He pointed out that the monument stands near where some Mainers fought at Third Winchester. “It’s in the Middle Field, a short distance, probably within 50 yards of where the 1st Maine Battery was located,” he said. “If you look at where the 29th Maine was and where the 7th Maine was, this location is about center to where everyone fought; there would have been roughly 2,000 Maine men there.”
Sculpted from granite quarried “outside of Atlanta, Georgia,” the Maine monument was officially dedicated on October 27, but delays in shipping it to Winchester mandated some changes to the dedication ceremony, Dalton noted. The sculptor “had trimmed off the excess on the stone,” and he presented one piece to each of six attendees (including Berry) whose ancestors had fought at Third Winchester.
“Peter and Cyndi Dalton were crucial to the success of this monument,” Picerno said. “Both are dedicated to Maine’s role in the Civil War and have become integral partners and advocates in the preservation, protection, and interpretation of our rich Civil War battlefields in the Shenandoah Valley.”
“Morris Berry and the Sons of Union Veterans, Maine Camp contributed with needed financial help,” said Picerno. “With their help and that of others, Maine’s contribution and sacrifice on the Third Winchester battlefield is now commemorated for perpetuity.”
“The real credit belongs to the soldiers that fought there,” Dalton said. “It is Cyndi’s and my personal legacy that we were privileged to help bring the project to fruition.”
To visit the Maine monument, turn onto Regency Lakes Drive at its intersection with the Berryville Pike (Route 7) in Winchester. Drive north through Regency Lakes mobile home park and pull into the small parking area by the Third Winchester access gate located on Averell Avenue. The monument is visible from the gate. Walk through the gate and follow the trail to the monument.
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