Tag Archives: John L. Hodsdon

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 […]

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 […]

Selectmen deny help to a hero’s elderly parents

With one son killed and another son wounded while defending the United States, finances turned grim for Cherryfield farmer Nicholas Newenham and his wife, Bridget, during summer 1864. They asked the town’s selectmen to provide the family with financial assistance, as mandated by state law. When selectmen repeatedly sent the Newenhams packing, Nicholas appealed to […]

Sumter’s 9/11 aftermath: An editor visits the hometown recruits

On Sunday and Monday, April 28-29, Bridgton Reporter editor Enoch Knight visited “the various companies of the [1st Maine Infantry] Regiment now about leaving for the seat of war. “Our readers will remember that almost every town in this vicinity [western Cumberland County and adjacent Androscoggin and Oxford counties] has its sons there,” Knight wrote. […]

When blue lives mattered

Sometimes the past slaps the present, especially concerning our heroes. For the past few years I’ve scoured Maine to photograph its Civil War monuments, some 140 or so and ranging from the small to the tall, from the bland to the boring to the weird. I’ve photographed most, but somehow the monument in Madison fell […]

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 […]

Seven days in May shatter the 7th Maine

My God. The casualty list runs almost 1½ columns in the Daily Whig & Courier — and this is real “broadsheet,” not the narrow pages that pass for newsprint nowadays. And this is only the 7th Maine Infantry Regiment, which will muster out in 98 days. Paraphrasing George Pickett post-Gettysburg charge, Capt. John H. Channing […]

Only a national draft could reinforce the Federal armies

Note: This is the first in a series of drop-in posts about the national draft and its impact on Maine. Was Ambrose Burnside a Confederate secret agent? No, but his pugnacious refusal to cancel the bloody December 13, 1862 charges at Fredericksburg almost accomplished in the Army of the Potomac camps what Robert E. Lee […]

The Soldierly Monument, Part 4

Stephen Decatur Carpenter had been dead 5½ months and in his grave some four months when Bangor residents dedicated the monument erected initially to honor him — and ultimately all of the Queen City’s war dead. And the thousands of people who gathered to honor all their heroes saw the war come home that particular […]

The 20th Maine lads on Death Row

An incident overlooked by the history books inexplicably placed 14 lads from the 20th Maine Infantry on Death Row, and someone must be held accountable for doing so. Ellis Spear or Walter Morrill or Holman Melcher? No, they were not in charge when these men from Maine committed the transgression that led to their collective […]