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

The war left Elihu Washburne’s youngest sister a widow

Left widowed with two children (the youngest only a year old) days prior to Gettysburg, Caroline Ann Holmes did what many similar widows did in Maine during the Civil War; she turned to her family for help. The fact that certain brothers would exert political, economic, and military influence across New England and the Midwest […]

Cavalry trooper killed at Middleburg came home to a hero’s funeral

A telegram arriving in Gardiner on Monday, June 22, 1863 broke a mother’s heart and stunned people living in the Kennebec River port. George Stone Kimball, age 30, was dead, killed by hostile fire in Virginia’s Bull Run Mountains days earlier. “In the springtime of life … blessed with education and talents and all that […]

Atlantic Canada’s Civil War heroes come to life in Graves Matter

Before each Memorial Day weekend, many volunteers (including Scouts) spread out across Maine cemeteries to place American flags on veterans’ graves. Afterwards, perceptive visitors notice the flags secured to the five-pointed metal stars marking specific graves. Based on the Grand Army of the Republic’s symbolic star, these stars identify the graves of Civil War veterans. […]

Granite State Mainers

A Civil War monument in New Hampshire lists many local men who served in Maine units. Does this mean these veterans are “Granite State Mainers”? For some, certainly “yes.” Located sufficiently distant from the Seacoast and the White Mountains to avoid the tourist hordes, Rollinsford lies directly across the Piscataqua River from South Berwick, also […]

Summer of ’63 rumor-mongers

Call them “the jitters of summer ’63”: From Pennsylvania to New England, civilian nerves trembled as rumor-mongers whispered, gossiped, wrote, and spoke. The Confederates are coming! The Confederates are coming! The Johnnies are here! Crossing the Potomac River at Williamsport and elsewhere, Confederate troops tramped north from the Shenandoah Valley and spread into the Cumberland […]

New book titled Gettysburg Faces is a compelling read

With his recently released Gettysburg Faces: Portraits and Personal Accounts, Ronald S. Coddington has brought to life the Gettysburg Campaign by connecting readers with the faces and names of people participating in it. A compelling layout and easy readability make this a “must read” book for everyone passionate about Gettysburg. A specialist in Civil War […]

New Brunswick men bolstered the Union ranks during the Civil War

Maine sent approximately 73,000 men into the army to fight during the Civil War, but not all those recruits hailed only from the Pine Tree State. In fact, “over 2,400 New Brunswick-born men enlisted in the State of Maine,” says Canadian historian and Civil War re-enactor Larry Burden. He and his wife live in St. […]

Join us this Thursday as we examine Joshua L. Chamberlain and his battlefield promotion

Brewer Public Library Thursdays in the Archives: Joshua Chamberlain’s Promotion Thursday, October 6th, 7:00pm on Zoom Civil War historian and author Brian F. Swartz will present a lecture on Joshua Chamberlain on Thursday, October 6th at 7PM on Zoom. His program will focus on Chamberlain’s battlefield promotion to Brigadier General and the Senate resolution bestowing […]

Old Zack and the upgraded Civil War monument

Civil War memory lingers to this day in Sherman, the Maine town that sent the highest percentage of its men of any Northern municipality to help save the Union from 1861 to 1865. Between the Washburn Memorial Church and the veterans’ monument in Sherman Mills (the town’s built-up section) stands a small cannon mounted on […]

Small Maine town emptied out to help save the Union

To the aptly named Sherman, Maine goes “the undisputed honor of being the Banner Town in the United States” by summer 1865, according to late 19th-century historian May H. Spooner. And how had this small town located amidst the rolling hills in southwestern Aroostook County earned this distinction? By sending “113 soldiers” to help preserve […]