All posts by Brian Swartz

Brian Swartz

About Brian Swartz

Welcome to "Maine at War," the blog about the roles played by Maine and her sons and daughters in the Civil War. I am a Civil War buff and a newspaper editor recently retired from the Bangor Daily News. Maine sent hero upon hero — soldiers, nurses, sailors, chaplains, physicians — south to preserve their country in the 1860s. “Maine at War” introduces these heroes and heroines, who, for the most part, upheld the state's honor during that terrible conflict. We tour the battlefields where they fought, and we learn about the Civil War by focusing on Maine’s involvement with it. Be prepared: As I discover to this very day, the facts taught in American classrooms don’t always jibe with Civil War reality. I can be reached at visionsofmaine@tds.net.

Bugged by bureaucracy as the 4th Maine’s war winds down

He’d been shot and briefly captured at Gettysburg, had led his men into the maelstroms at First and Second Manassas, and had scurried as dawn approached on December 16, 1862 to find and save missing pickets at Fredericksburg. Now Elijah Walker was home, but bureaucracy followed him even there. With the Army of the Potomac […]

The army bungles discharging two 4th Maine heroes

The War Department kicked out two 4th Maine Infantry officers in November 1863 and promptly kicked one back in. The other guy wasn’t quite so lucky … A Rockland merchant who recruited Co. B, 4th Maine Infantry Regiment, Elijah Walker rose from captain to colonel by spring 1862, when the departing Hiram Berry left the […]

Confederates raid Portland harbor, and Edwin Stanton does not care

Confederate sailors under Lt. Charles W. Read, CSN, had captured the Revenue Service cutter Caleb Cushing in Portland harbor early on June 27, 1863 and had almost gotten away. Unable to fire up the cutter’s steam engine and hampered by a fickle, apparently pro-Union breeze, Read and his crew were overtaken by two pursuing steamers […]

The 7th Maine Infantry’s “gallant remnant” goes home

Portland raised a ruckus for one battered Maine infantry regiment in October ’62. With disease, the Peninsula Campaign, and their heroic and shot-to-pieces Antietam charge behind them, the 7th Maine’s survivors numbered around 350 men, with perhaps 150 fit for service by early October. Bestowing a rare wartime honor, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan ordered […]

The 6th Maine Infantry’s heroes meet 50 years later

Ellsworth rolled out the red carpet when the 6th Maine Infantry’s elderly survivors converged on the Hancock County shiretown 50 years after going forth to defend the Union. When the 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment left Bangor for Washington, D.C. by train on May 14, 1861, five unattached companies remained at Camp Washburn. These companies were […]

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, part 2

Continued from “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, part 1” Charles Longfellow, the eldest son and child of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, left the family’s home at Craigie House in Cambridge, Massachusetts without explanation or a “good-bye” on March 10, 1863. He traveled to Washington, D.C. and initially attached himself to a Massachusetts artillery […]

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, part 1

The Civil War literally and figuratively scarred Henry Wadsworth Longfellow — and caused him to write a poem that became a Christmas song. The famous poet is a native Mainer, being born in Portland to Stephen and Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow on February 27, 1807. The Maine Historical Society owns and operates the poet’s childhood home […]

Maine navy skipper nabs ”the Goliath of Rebeldom”

Wise to the ways of the sea, Captain Joshua D. Warren kept the steam up aboard his warship when blockading the approaches to North Carolina’s Cape Fear River. That practice paid dividends one morning in late spring 1862. Born in Wiscasset on January 1, 1809, Warren went to sea and by 1850 was a “shipmaster” […]

New knees and all, Maine re-enactor marches on Gettysburg’s 2022 Remembrance Day

Carrying a full pack, one Maine-based Civil War re-enactor participating in this year’s Remembrance Day parade at Gettysburg ventured forth on “my new knees” replaced last year. Not knowing how well they would handle the long march to the Gettysburg National Cemetery, he went forth proudly representing Maine heroes who had fought at Gettysburg 159 […]

Lookout Mountain park commemorates the November 1863 “Battle Above the Clouds”

Point Park on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee rates among my favorite Civil War sites. Made famous during the November 24, 1863 Battle Above the Clouds (one battle that Joe Hooker did right), this ragged spur on the mountain’s north-facing summit gained perhaps greater fame from the photographs taken immediately afterwards. Its dramatic outline dominating […]