Tag Archives: Portland

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 […]

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, part 1

The Civil War literally and figuratively scarred Henry Wadsworth Longfellow — and caused him to write a poem that became a Christmas song. The famous poet is a native Mainer, being born in Portland to Stephen and Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow on February 27, 1807. The Maine Historical Society owns and operates the poet’s childhood home […]

The Baltimore incident, part 1

While passing through Baltimore during the war, the 10th Maine Infantry Regiment developed close friendships with particular Unionists. One such friendship sparked two incidents not forgotten by the regiment’s survivors. The first incident involved Reuben Viele. Born in St. Francis, Province of Quebec, he migrated to Lewiston sometime before the war. Gray-eyed and black-haired, he […]

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 […]

“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, […]

Racist white soldiers go after their black comrades in Cape Elizabeth — Part II

  By late 1863, black Maine men were joining the fight against the Confederacy. War Department policy prohibited blacks from serving in white regiments, so except for a few situations, the black Mainers enlisted in black regiments being raised in other states. Some recruits went to the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment (Colored), forming […]

Wishing you a “Merry Christmas” from a “one-horse town”

  Burping politely into his fisted hand, a well-fed 25th Maine Infantry soldier extended a heart-felt “Merry Christmas” to Portland Daily Press readers on Christmas Day, 1862. He had much for which to be thankful, especially the fact that he was not lying in a grave 50 miles south at Fredericksburg, where many other Maine […]

Quaker cannon has begun, no more shooting, no more fun

When I was young, we sometimes played “Quaker meeting has begun, no more laughing, no more fun.” Participants turned stone-faced and silent; the first one to crack a smile or laugh lost the game, which took its name from the stillness that Quakers allegedly practiced during their meetings. The tough 5th Maine Infantry boys played […]

Appomattox Road: “The news spread through the city like wild-fire” — Portlanders celebrate on April 10, 1865

  The first week of April 1865 coincided with the happiest — and likely most accurate — headlines that residents of Portland (Maine) had read in four years. “Glorious News,” the John Adams-edited “Eastern Argus” proclaimed on page 2 on Tuesday, April 4. “The Rebel Capital Fallen! Petersburg in our Possession. The Stars and Stripes […]