Tag Archives: Abner Coburn

Disaffected Maine Republicans chuck their own governor, Part 2

Previous: Maine Governor Abner Coburn runs afoul of the special interests Married to Augusta native Harriet Stanwood, transplanted Pennsylvanian James G. Blaine wielded great power within the Maine Republican Party by summer 1863. Buying into the Kennebec Journal in 1853, he moved to Augusta and won election to the Maine House in 1858. Repeatedly re-elected, […]

Sitting governor runs afoul Republican opponents, Part 1

As Maine soldiers converged on Gettysburg, revengeful Republican politicians tossed aside the state’s sitting governor, Abner Coburn. A successful businessman from Skowhegan, he had beaten three opponents during the early June 1862 Republican state convention held in Portland. Winning the September election, he took office in January 1863 and soon collided with power-wielding politicians. Coburn […]

Fort Hell and the 7th Maine Battery, part 1

Ordered to shoot when he wasn’t supposed to, Senior 1st Lt. William Berry Lapham of the 7th Maine Battery promptly complied — and all hell quickly broke loose at the Petersburg position that Union soldiers called “Fort Hell.” An Oxford County man to his core — born in Greenwood, raised in Bethel, settled into a […]

Maine Supreme Court strikes down onerous draft-avoidance scheme

Maine Governor Abner Coburn scratched his head after Congress passed in March 1863 a law titled “An Act for enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes.” This law established the national draft, which spawned its own problems by summer 1863. New Yorkers might riot, burn, and kill in the Draft Riots, […]

The 17th Maine backstabbers, part 2

With his resignation from command of the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment already submitted, Col. Thomas Roberts had one last chore to perform: recommend his successor. Since the regiment’s muster in Portland in August 1862, Roberts’ second-in-command had been Lt. Col. Charles B. Merrill, also from Portland. Roberts was away sick when Merrill led the 17th […]

The 17th Maine backstabbers, part 1

The departure of Col. Thomas Roberts from the 17th Maine Infantry Regiment in late spring 1863 sparked a lobbying campaign that elevated his major to regimental command. The trouble was, his lieutenant colonel should have received the promotion. The 1860 census found Roberts living in Portland with his wife, Mary, and their three sons: Charles […]

Dead man walking gets promoted

With all the lead flying, a savage battle like Chancellorsville brought promotion for an aspiring young officer or NCO, especially if a bullet struck the right place … on someone else. Absent when his 17th Maine Infantry Regiment fought with III Corps and Daniel Sickles in the fields and woods comprising the Chancellorsville battlefield, Col. […]

Emancipation: An opportunity for promotion

The Emancipation Proclamation turned on the manpower spigot for the new black regiments forming at various locations in the United States. Since only whites could serve as officers in those regiments, many white soldiers sought higher status and pay by lobbying for commissions in the new units. Even discharged soldiers got in on the act. […]

Emancipation: Free the blacks, if only to save the whites

Sworn into office as Maine’s governor in early January 1863, Abner Coburn of Skowhegan strongly supported raising black regiments — and not just for applying more pressure on the struggling Confederacy. Enlisting “the negroes for armed service in holding Southern ‘forts, positions and stations’ will be an immeasurable relief to the population of the North,” […]

The right man at the right time for governor — Part I

  New Year’s Day 1863 gets some attention in American history books because the Emancipation Proclamation took affect that Thursday. But what happened six days later, on Wednesday, January 7? Not much on the national level, Civil War-wise, but a momentous event took place at the State House in Augusta. Maine’s first wartime governor, the […]