Tag Archives: 20th Maine Infantry

The “Coward of the County” redeems his honor

Perhaps his shame led William R. Bubar of Eaton Grant (merged with an adjacent township to form Lyndon in 1859) to assume a nom de guerre when he finally joined the war effort. At the request of my sweet wife, we attended the Kenny Rogers concert last December in Bangor. Rogers sang many of his […]

Finding the dead at Gettysburg

Twenty-four days after arriving at Gettysburg, Dr. Albion Cobb of the 4th Maine Infantry finally left his patients long enough to explore “the field of battle.” On Saturday, July 25, Cobb walked across the terrain defended by Union troop and gazed in astonishment at the soldiers still there. “I find the whole country planted with […]

Appomattox Road: “We at once charged him with lying” — disbelief on April 9, 1865

  John Haley, the scrappy private from Saco, disbelieved the news that “an inveterate newsmonger” delivered to the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment around 10:30 a.m., Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865. Heading ever westward, Haley and his Co. I comrades had tramped, tramped, tramped their weary way west across southern Virginia the previous day. Up and […]

Appomattox Road: “We will fight our way back to the regiment!” — Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Five Forks

  Withdrawn from its White Oak Road earthworks after dark on Friday, March 31, 1865, the weary soldiers of the 5th Corps “about-faced” and went after Five Forks on April Fool’s Day … … and, in a master stroke attributable to sloppy reconnaissance, emerged onto the road leading to Appomattox Court House. Saturday’s clear, cold, […]

Appomattox Road: “The awful tide was rolling toward us” — Chamberlain and the 20th Maine at Battle of White Oak Road

  “Daylight dawned, cold, wet, and cheerless” in the 20th Maine Infantry’s temporary camp west of Petersburg, Va. on Thursday, March 30, 1865, said Pvt. Theodore Gerrish of Co. H. The previous day, elements of the 1st Division, 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac, had captured the Confederate earthworks stretching across the Quaker Road near […]

Appomattox Road: “A heavy blow struck me just above the left breast” — Joshua Chamberlain at Quaker Road

  The end was approaching. By late March 1865, “we felt sure that he (Ulysses Simpson Grant) was preparing some great movement, and this must be still to the left, to cut [Robert E.] Lee’s communications and envelop his existing lines,” said Brig. Gen. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th […]

Meet the Heroes of Evergreen Cemetery: Part II

  Approximately 1,400 Civil War veterans — I call them “heroes,” if only because they fought to preserve our country — lie buried at Evergreen Cemetery on Stevens Avenue in Portland. On a recent sunny, warm summer’s day, Friends of Evergreen docent Lin Brown introduced me to about 50 of them. We toured the 239-acre […]

Spotsylvania Court House, Part II: “They were brutes”

  After Col. Charles Herring reached the expanding battlefield northwest of Spotsylvania Court House, Va. at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 8, 1864, Union generals kept maneuvering his ad hoc brigade hither and yon throughout the day to meet threats imagined and real as fighting engulfed nearby Laurel Hill. At 6 p.m., according to Pvt. […]

Spotsylvania Court House, Part I : The rear guard marches to the sound of the guns

Union soldiers expected that after the savage fighting they had endured in The Wilderness in early May 1864, Ulysses Simpson Grant would withdraw the Army of the Potomac across the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers and let his mauled divisions encamp to lick their wounds. Other generals — particularly Ambrose Burnside and Joseph Hooker — had […]

The Wilderness, Part III — Slaughter at Saunders Field

  For the 20th Maine boys hurrying west from their recently constructed breastworks near the Old Wilderness Tavern in central Virginia, the slaughter began sometime after 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, 1864. At noon Brig. Gen. Charles Griffin had received an order to probe westward along the Orange Turnpike with his 1st Division of […]