Tag Archives: Oliver Otis Howard

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 […]

North Yarmouth Academy alumni fought during the Civil War

Depending on the town, Maine schools operated “hit or miss” prior to the Civil War. Students might learn the “three R’s: reading, riting, and rithmetic,” but not much more, particularly in rural areas where mud season, spring planting, and fall harvest restricted students’ educational availability to the winter months. Some opportunities existed for higher learning. […]

Artillery back story at Gettysburg, part 4, all hell breaks loose at the seminary

As his North Carolina brigade emerged from McPherson’s Woods outside Gettysburg and started down the swale separating McPherson’s from the Lutheran seminary, all hell broke loose. Opposite on the seminary campus stood a 10-gun Union artillery line, comprising the six bronze Napoleons of Capt. Greenlief T. Stevens and the 5th Maine Battery and the four […]

Lottery winner catches the Maine-bound boat

However badly that Joseph Hooker blew the Battle of Chancellorsville, an order he issued on January 30, 1863 went over very well with the Army of the Potomac’s rank-and-file. “Orders were given on January 30th from the headquarters of the army that furloughs might be granted for fifteen days to one regimental and two line […]

Yakking about Lincoln sinks a Phippsburg officer

There’s a time to yap and a time to shaddup, as a promising Maine officer discovered in winter 1863. Having toyed with its wording for months, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation in autumn 1862 and set January 1, 1863 as its effective date. All slaves in areas hostile to the United States government […]

A nurse goes to war, Part 1 — “such suffering and confusion I never before witnessed”

After receiving a telegram on Wednesday, May 7, 1862, Bath nurse Sarah Sampson hurried to the war zone, which in that far-away spring was Virginia’s so-called “Peninsula.” What she saw and did there launched her into history as a 3rd Maine Infantry Regiment legend. Sarah Sampson had traveled with her husband, Lt. Col. Charles A.L. […]

Emancipation: Criticize Abe Lincoln at your own peril

A Phippsburg officer learned the hard way that shooting his mouth off about presidential policy (i.e., the Emancipation Proclamation) was a real bad idea. William H. Wheeler, publisher of the Bangor-based Daily Whig & Courier, reported on January 2, 1863 that “there are now three regiments of colored troops and 150 [men in a] heavy […]

A wild flower collected from a soldier’s grave

  Fifty-eight years before the first Armistice Day observance in the United States, a compassionate Bath nurse visited the grave of a young Maine soldier in Washington, D.C. Sarah Sampson also ensured that a brigadier general would not forget John W. Campbell, who had fought in one battle before losing his life. Hailing from Livermore, […]

“Boom!” goes the colonel’s career

  Did Elijah Walker blow a future promotion on a quiet night outside Yorktown, Va. in April 1862? Only if he shot off his mouth after a Confederate shot off a cannon that night. A 42-year-old Rockland coal-and-lumber merchant in spring 1861, Walker decided the join the 4th Infantry Regiment being raised by his business […]

The 5th Maine Infantry’s “galvanized Rebel” — Part I

  In tracing their Civil War ancestry, some folks discover (to paraphrase the title of Tony Horwitz’s delightful 1998 book) that they have a “Confederate or Yankee in the Attic”: The family’s connection to the Civil War wore Union blue or Confederate gray.A And then there are the fortunate Civil War descendants, like Elizabeth Kane […]