Gathering at a local cemetery beneath a beautiful late summer sky, residents of Milo re-dedicated their town’s Civil War monument this August with capable assistance from Civil War descendants and re-enactors.
Participating organizations included the Milo Historical Society; the Sarah Elizabeth Palmer Tent No. 23, Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War; the Col. C. S. Douty Camp No. 11, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War; re-enactors from Co. B, 20th Maine Infantry Regiment; and the Marine Corps League.
Milo lies where the Pleasant, Piscataquis, and Sebec rivers meet in rural Piscataquis County. The town had 959 residents in 1860, according to the federal census; many men went to war, particularly with the 2nd Maine Infantry, 6th Maine Infantry, and 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiments. Some men did not return.
Members of the local Jane Carver Sampson Tent, DUVCW, decided in 1927 to replace an existing wooden memorial “with a stone memorial,” said Estella Bennett, the DUVCW’s Department of Maine president. The Milo Fire Department “and other patriotic organizations and friends in town” assisted with the fund raising, she said.
Town residents dedicated the monument, a gray granite shaft placed in the Evergreen Cemetery on Park Street, during a well-attended ceremony held on May 20, 1931. The Jane Carver Sampson Tent disbanded years later.
In the 21st century, Milo resident and Marine Corps veteran Ronald Knowles spearheaded an effort to create a well-designed Veterans Memorial at the cemetery’s main Park Street entrance. The town moved its Civil War monument to a prominent location near the street and within the Veterans Memorial a few years ago, and residents decided to re-dedicate the monument during the town’s 2023 bicentennial festivities.
The ceremony started at 2 p.m., Saturday, August 12. Representing the town, Milo Select Board Chair Don Banker invited Peter Redman, Department of Maine Commander, SUVCW, “to accept … this memorial and to request that it be re-dedicated by you to the noble purpose for which it has been set up.”
Responding for the SUVCW “and its allied orders representing as they do all the soldiers and sailors who defended the integrity and authority of the nation,” Redman said, “I thank you and those [that] you represent for this memorial,” which “assures us that those who gave their lives for the Union … are held in remembrance.
“It stands for brave and loyal obedience to the command of the nation,” he said.
“The obligations of citizenship are not restricted to time or place nor to conflict of arms,” Redman said. The monument “gives encouragement for the future since the recognition and approval of it gives a patriotic fidelity, heroism, and incentive for the display of public valor and virtue in all coming time.”
Despite the competing noise — passing ATVs, motorcycles, and several emergency-service vehicles — from busy Park Street, the ceremony went as planned. A color guard from Col. C. S. Douty Camp No. 11 and re-enactors from Co. B, 20th Maine Infantry posted the colors, and an SUVCW member read aloud the names of Milo men who died in military service during the war.
As SUVCW Chaplain Howard Black started to read the prayer of dedication, a siren sounded in the distance, then intensified as a sheriff’s patrol cruiser raced north on Park Street. “Almighty God, we thank you for your sovereign care and protection,” Black said.
The cruiser’s driver silenced his siren while passing the ceremony. “May our dead be enshrined in our hearts, may their graves be altars of our grateful and reverential patriotism,” Black said as the siren resumed in the distance.
” And now, O God, bless this memorial … in honor of the mothers who gave their sons to brave deeds, in honor of wives who wept for husbands who shall never come back again, in honor of children whose heritage is their fallen father’s heroic name, in honor of men and women who ministered to the hurt and dying,” Black said.
Pausing as a horn- and siren-blaring fire engine swept out Park Street, Bennett recalled the purpose of the DUVCW and the veteran-oriented services that its members provide. She belongs to the Sarah Elizabeth Palmer Tent, which formed in June 2004.
“The cause is great,” said Ronald Knowles, quoting “a Maine youngster” who had joined “the fight to save the Union and end slavery.” He cited Maine’s contributions to the war, including more than 70,000 soldiers, more than 40 state-raised army units, and 7,322 Mainers who died in military service.
The Co. B color guard fired a three-volley salute, and a trumpeter played Taps. Redman thanked Banker “and those you represent for the courtesy in permitting us … to honor our dead.”
Black gave the benediction. “We assign back to the town of Milo this memorial, and I thank you for permitting us this opportunity,” he said.
Redman also “assigned back this memorial” to the town. The SUCVW color guard and the Co. B re-enactors then retired the colors.
A video of the monument re-dedication ceremony can be viewed on my YouTube channel.
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Brian Swartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He enjoys hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.