Tag Archives: William H. Simpson

A heart-felt weekend sent 200 new soldiers to war

Discipline held some 200 departing soldiers in their ranks at Steamboat Landing at Belfast on Monday, May 20, 1861 — but tears still flowed. Scrambling that spring to form infantry regiments, Maine Governor Israel Washburn Jr and Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon created Nos. 1 through 6 by blending existing militia companies with newly recruited […]

The Girls of Company A

At 5-10¼, the hard-bitten Capt. Charles Baker tolerated no foolishness while “inspecting and telling off his men” at their Belfast camp on Saturday evening, April 30, 1864. A day earlier he had received “an unexpected order to report to the seat of war” (Washington, D.C.) with Company A, “Coast Guards Infantry” — and be darn […]

Sumter’s 9/11 aftermath: Penobscot Bay reacts to war

As happened after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, the Fort Sumter assault briefly united loyal Americans against an outrage committed against their country and upon their fellow Americans. Events taking place in Stockton and Belfast in coastal Waldo County that last full week in April 1861 exemplified Mainers’ response to the nation’s first 9/11-style disaster. […]

Fort Sumter and 9/11

As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, many Americans who were then older than ages 7 or 8 can recall where they were upon learning that terrorists had flown hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Besides killing 3,000 people, that attack launched a 20-year war that America lost on August 31, […]

Newspaper cheers when Augusta arrests a traitorous lawyer

You’ve probably heard this joke: “A lawyer and a snake are lying run over in the road. What’s the difference between them?” Answer: “There are brake marks over the snake.” The lawyer joke circulating in Lewiston, Maine in autumn 1862 went something like this: “What do you call a copperhead lawyer tossed into jail?” Answer: […]

Emancipation: The Maine press reacts, Part 2

Having printed the Emancipation Proclamation in its entirety and without acerbic commentary in the January 9, 1863 edition of his Republican Journal, publisher William H. Simpson understood that an influx of black soldiers would buttress the Union’s battle- and disease-thinned ranks. More Union soldiers and sailors meant more military pressure applied to Confederate defenders already […]

Emancipation: The Maine press reacts, Part 1

As December 1862 faded past Christmas, the calendar suddenly assumed significance for black Americans and many white Mainers who supported or despised them — or did not know what to think upon coming into close contact for the first time with freed slaves. The “contrabands (escaped slaves) are coming in continually, so that we have […]