Tag Archives: Portland Daily Press

Confederates raid Portland harbor, and Edwin Stanton does not care

Confederate sailors under Lt. Charles W. Read, CSN, had captured the Revenue Service cutter Caleb Cushing in Portland harbor early on June 27, 1863 and had almost gotten away. Unable to fire up the cutter’s steam engine and hampered by a fickle, apparently pro-Union breeze, Read and his crew were overtaken by two pursuing steamers […]

The 7th Maine Infantry’s “gallant remnant” goes home

Portland raised a ruckus for one battered Maine infantry regiment in October ’62. With disease, the Peninsula Campaign, and their heroic and shot-to-pieces Antietam charge behind them, the 7th Maine’s survivors numbered around 350 men, with perhaps 150 fit for service by early October. Bestowing a rare wartime honor, Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan ordered […]

Augusta CSI pursues a soldier’s killer

Had a serial killer struck in the Kennebec Valley? Had he dispatched yet “another victim”? Augusta authorities knew they had a serious problem “on Tuesday morning,” November 25, 1863. “The dead body of a man having no clothing on but an under shirt, was found in a pasture” on the Randall farm, “about four miles […]

Reign of terror off Nova Scotia, part 2

Last week: Reign of terror off Nova Scotia, part 1 After his CSS Tallahassee bagged the Maine-based schooner Floral Wreath about 40 miles off Cape Sable Island on Thursday afternoon, August 11, 1864, Confederate Navy Capt. John Taylor Wood soon spotted another victim. With the Floral Wreath sinking (if not sunk) and her crew now […]

Reign of terror off Nova Scotia, part 1

Men — lots of them — likely lined the ship’s rails as the schooner Sarah B. Harris sailed into Portland Harbor on Thursday, August 18, 1864. Aboard the crowded schooner, Capt. Delano probably chatted with his unexpected guests, particularly other merchant skippers who had quite the tale to tell. They had survived (but not so […]

A Gettysburg mystery

Among the Mainers killed at Gettysburg exists a mystery: John C. Wadsworth of Cornish. His Masonic brothers held a funeral for their brother slain on the field of valor, and everyone in Cornish believed he died at Gettysburg. Yet … When he enlisted in the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment on August 5, 1862, Wadsworth was […]

“Sprechen sie Deutsch” in Portland?

A Maine newspaperman failed to ask all the pertinent questions when handed a most mysterious human-interest story in late January 1865. Four Portland-area newspapers sent “attaches” to visit Camp Berry in Cape Elizabeth on Wednesday afternoon, January 25, 1865, according to the Portland Daily Press. The papers included the pro-Republican PDP and its arch rival, […]

The origin of the phrase “seeing the elephant”

Throughout the Civil War, soldiers on both sides often referred to their first experience in combat as “seeing the elephant.” A novice soldier would express his desire to “see the elephant,” effectively wishing himself to be baptized by hostile fire so he could become a veteran. Then he could write home, “I have seen the […]