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.

Mainers go violent at the Devil’s Den, part 2

Editor’s note: You can read part 1 here. Realizing that Confederates had swarmed over the Devil’s Den and captured three 10-pounder Parrott rifles atop Houck’s Ridge, Col. Elijah Walker led his men uphill to retake the guns belonging to Capt. James E. Smith’s 4th New York Battery. The 4th Maine had spent the afternoon on […]

Mainers go violent at the Devil’s Den, part 1

As John Bell Hood’s division swept east from the Emmitsburg Road after 3 p.m., the 4th Maine Infantry Regiment occupied a position near the Devil’s Den, the rock-tumbled outcropping at the south end of Houck’s Ridge. Atop it spread four 10-pounder Parrotts belonging to the 4th New York Battery, commanded by Capt. James E. Smith. […]

Unofficial integration: Maine Indians and “white” regiments

The War Department required that no “white” regiments, whether regular Army or state-raised, enlist minorities. Blacks could join “black” regiments, and as for American Indians, maybe they could serve with an Indian unit in Indian Territory, a.k.a. “Oklahoma” from statehood onwards. Black was black, white was white, Indians were Indians, and never the trio should […]

Lakeman loses larking lieutenants

Moses B. Lakeman lost lieutenants on June 20, 1863. He had a pretty good idea what happened to them. Commanded respectively by colonels Lakeman and Elijah Walker, the 3rd and 4th Maine infantry regiments served in the 2nd Brigade led by Brig. Gen. John Henry Hobart Ward, a New York City native and Mexican War […]

Super Horse meets his Gettysburg kryptonite

Super Horse carried a Maine officer throughout the July 2, 1863 slugfest at Gettysburg. The officer was Lt. Col. Freeman McGilvery, commanding the 1st Volunteer Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac. His breed unknown, Super Horse was definitely a male (“he,” McGilvery commented), either a stallion or a gelding. We do not know the […]

Union soldier murders Otis Howard’s black servant

A vicious Union soldier fatally shot a black servant employed at Brig. Gen. Oliver Otis Howard’s headquarters — and literally got away with murder in winter 1863. Many Union officers hired black servants during the Civil War. Other officers (particularly generals) assigned a white soldier to serve as what the British called a “batman,” an […]

Tullahoma Campaign history written in a Confederate cemetery

About halfway between Chattanooga and Murfreesboro exists a cemetery containing soldiers killed during the Tullahoma Campaign. And, as I learned, few cemeteries provide so much information about the fighting that put these men in their graves. Headed to Murfreesboro from Chattanooga on Interstate 24, my son, Chris, and I came through Hoover’s Gap and approached […]

Maine sailor helps capture a blockade runner

The blockade runner that a Maine sailor helped capture off Cuba became an American warship. A Rockland merchant captain, E.C. Healy, joined the Navy as an acting master and wound up aboard the USS Somerset, a side-wheel ferry launched at a Brooklyn, New York yard in early 1862. Measuring 151 feet in length and 32 […]

The 4th Maine’s Johnnies Come Marching Home, part 2

When the steamer carrying the homeward-bound 4th Maine rounded Owls Head at 3 a.m., Saturday, June 25, Rockland church bells started pealing, the Halfway Point battery “opened a salute,” and a minute gun fired continuously at the steamboat wharf, Vose observed. Aboard the inbound steamer, “every man was anxious to once more set foot on […]

The 4th Maine’s Johnnies Come Marching Home, part 1

Not even a sumptuous meal could keep the 4th Maine Infantry’s hard-bitten veterans from deserting in late June 1864. Losing 184 men during “the battle of the Wilderness,” the 4th Maine continued taking casualties as the Army of the Potomac battered itself bloody throughout May and into June. Twenty-three soldiers went dead or wounded “near […]