Thursday, August 22, 2013

Maine in the Civil War

Maine in the Civil War

Sentiment for Civil War
On March 15, 1820, Maine separated from Massachusetts and entered the Union as a free state when Congress accepted the 1820 Missouri Compromise. Separatists had argued that statehood would bring more equitable taxation and lower government expenses. However, the larger national issue of expanding slavery into western states complicated their bid for statehood. Southern congressmen would not allow Maine to enter the Union unless Congress admitted as a slave state. A joint congressional committee crafted the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri into the Union as a slave state and Maine in as a free state. This law would also prohibit the expansion of slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of the 36° 30´ latitude line. All seven delegates from Maine declined the compromise, because it meant the expansion of slavery, to which they were opposed. Thirty-four years later, the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed the spread of slavery through “Popular Sovereignty.” Three years later, the Supreme Court validated this repeal with the declaration that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit slavery in the territories in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford.
With their opposition to slavery, the Republican Party took hold in Maine in 1856, following several years of reform movements, including temperance and anti-slavery. Maine politicians held high positions in Lincoln’s administration. Maine Senator Hannibal Hamlin was Lincoln’s first term vice-president, and Senator William Pitt Fessenden served as Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury in 1864. Maine remained a Republican stronghold throughout the Civil War, and the majority of Mainers remained staunch supporters of suppressing the rebellion in the Southern states.
During the beginning of the American Civil War, several vocal abolitionist organizations kept the issue of slavery in the public eye. Newspaper editors informed the populace of the conduct and outcome of the war efforts. Maine factories produced ships, naval stores and supplies, army equipment, tents, etc. Thomas Lincoln Casey oversaw the state's coastal fortifications including forts McClary and Preble. He completed the massive Fort Knox on the Penobscot River.
Although no Civil War land battles were fought in Maine, anti-Confederate passions were inflamed in June 1863 when Southern raiders triggered the Battle of Portland Harbor after seizing a revenue cutter and trying to escape to the ocean.
During the war, there was still a contingent of southern sympathizers in Maine. Democratic newspapers criticized the war and Republican decisions. The passage of the federal draft law prompted a large peace demonstration in Dexter, Maine. Draft dodgers took to the border, especially in the forests of Arastook County. All the male citizens in Winter Harbor left together for Canada. Confederate privateers also took advantage of Maine’s unprotected coast.
Hannibal Hamlin of Paris, Maine, was Lincoln's vice-president during his first term. A strong orator and opponent of slavery, he urged both the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation and the arming of African Americans. He became aligned with Radical Republicans, which may have caused him to be dropped from the ticket in 1864.
Augusta newspaperman and U.S. Congressman James G. Blaine was a powerful voice on Capitol Hill and dominated post-war politics during the Reconstruction period. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was substantially Blaine's proposition, and later he was the 1884 Republican nominee for President.
Civil War
According to the 1860 U.S. census, Maine, a free state, had a population of 628,270. Although Maine did not fight any battles on its soil, Mainers fought in practically every major battle and campaign during the Civil War.

Approximately 73,000 men from Maine served in the Union Army and an additional 6,000 served in the U.S. Navy. They were organized into 30 regiments and 22 companies of infantry, 3 cavalry regiments, 1 regiment of heavy artillery, 3 companies and 7 batteries of light Artillery. Hundreds of civilians served as nurses, doctors, relief workers, and agents at home and on the field of battle. Many served in the United States Sanitary Commission or United States Christian Commission, as well as similar organizations.
During the Civil War, the state of Maine was a source of military manpower, supplies, ships, arms, and political support for the Union Army. Maine was the first state in the northeast to be aligned with the new Republican Party, partly due to the influence of evangelical Protestantism, and partly to the fact that Maine was a frontier state, and thus receptive to the party's "free soil" platform. Abraham Lincoln chose Maine's Hannibal Hamlin as his first vice president, and said on meeting Brunswick novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe (the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin), "so this is the little lady who made this big war".
Maine, eager for the cause, contributed a larger number of combatants, in proportion to its population, than any other Union state. It was second only to Massachusetts in the number of its sailors who served in the Union Navy. Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain (later a major general) and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry played a key role at the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment lost more men in a single charge (during the Siege of Petersburg) than any Union regiment in the war.
In the first battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861, the troops of Maine bore an honorable and conspicuous part, and despite the reverse suffered by the Union Army of McDowell, won fame for themselves and glory for their state.
By the close of the year 1862, there had been sent into the field from the State of Maine, twenty-seven regiments of infantry, one regiment of cavalry, one regiment of heavy artillery, six batteries, and one company of sharpshooters, exceeding 30,000 men. These were all volunteer troops, and were distributed in Virginia on the Peninsula; southwest of Washington; at Port Royal, S.C.; Fernandina and Pensacola, FL.; and at New Orleans. In addition to the troops above mentioned, a considerable number were also recruited for regiments in the field, which had become depleted from active service.
The Civil War had a tremendous impact on the state’s maritime and agricultural economy. Prior to the war, Maine’s shipping industry faced rising prices and a general decline in cargo shipping. However, while foreign trade declined in other northern ports during the war, it nearly tripled in Maine because of its commercial ties with Canada. Many Maine commercial vessels were sunk by Confederate raiders during the war. Of the fifty-three vessels sunk by the CSS Alabama, eleven were from Maine. Federal cutters also captured several Maine vessels that tried to run the Southern blockade.
During the progress of the war the Confederates made increasing efforts to acquire a navy, and already several powerful vessels flying their flag were inflicting much damage upon Northern commerce. In the spring of 1863 rebel privateers appeared off the coast of Maine and attacked a number of vessels. On June 26, 1863, the crew of the Confederate bark Tacony, under the command of Lieut. Reade, entered Portland Harbor in the disguise of fishermen, on board a fishing schooner they had recently captured. After the capture of the schooner, their commander had transferred to her his crew and effects, and then burned the Tacony. The night after their unsuspected arrival in the harbor, they succeeded in capturing the United States revenue cutter, Caleb Cushing, an armed vessel, as she lay at anchor. Inquiry the next morning soon disclosed the method of her disappearance, and a volunteer fleet was sent in pursuit. Being a sailing vessel, the cutter was soon overhauled in the outer harbor. After a brief resistance, the Confederates set the cutter on fire and took to their boats in an attempt to reach the fishing schooner. The magazine of the cutter was stored with 400 pounds of powder, which exploded at 2 p.m. with terrific force, in full view of thousands of citizens who were watching the proceedings from vantage points on the shore. The daring Confederates, 23 in number, were captured before they could reach the schooner, and proved to be from the man-of-war, Florida. Their leader held a regular commission from the Confederate government and they could not, therefore, be adjudged pirates. After a short confinement at Fort Preble, they were exchanged.
During the year 1864, Maine contributed to the military and naval service of the country an aggregate of 18,904 men, of whom 3,380 were enlisted under the call of Oct., 1863, and 3,525 were veteran soldiers, who reenlisted. Enlistments for the navy numbered 1,846. By the close of 1864, the state had furnished for the military and naval service more than 61,000 men, a number nearly equal to one-tenth of her whole population.
Soon after the capitulation of General Lee, April 1865, the Maine troops began to return home to their families and friends. The regiments returned, sunburned, ragged and worn, sacred for their losses and crowned with honor. Many flags had been captured, but not one had been lost, by the gallant sons of Maine. The troops furnished by Maine to the Union army during the progress of the war comprised two regiments of cavalry; one regiment of heavy artillery; three companies of garrison artillery; one battalion of seven batteries of light artillery; one battalion of six companies of sharpshooters; thirty regiments and sixteen companies of infantry, inclusive of the coastguard battalion of seven companies, a total of 72,114; or, reduced to a three years standard, 56,776. In addition to the above, the state was credited with a total of 6,750 men in the navy and marine corps, and also furnished about 800 men for the 1st D.C. cavalry, an independent organization under the command of Col. L. C. Baker. It will thus be seen that Maine contributed considerably more than one-tenth of her 'total population' to the service of the nation.
Of the numbers above given, according to The Union Army, 1908, Maine suffered 2,801 in killed or died of wounds, 4,521 died of disease; and 6,642 were mustered out for disabilities resulting from casualties occurring in service or from sickness. According to Frederick H. Dyer, A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, 1908, during the course of the Civil War, Maine suffered a total of 9393 deaths: 3,184 in killed and mortally wounded; 5,257 died from disease; 541 died as prisoners-of-war; 118 died from accidents; 298 died from causes other than battle. See also Maine in the American Civil War (1861-1865).
Notable Mainers
More than two dozen men from Maine served in the Union army as generals, and dozens more Mainers led brigades at one time or another as colonels. The highest-ranking officer was Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard of Leeds, who commanded the XI Corps in several major battles, including Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. He had lost an arm at the Battle of Seven Pines during the 1862 Peninsula Campaign. In the fall of 1863, Howard and his corps were transferred to the Western Theater to join the Army of the Cumberland in Tennessee. In the Battle of Chattanooga, Howard's corps helped capture Missionary Ridge and force the retreat of Gen. Braxton Bragg. In July 1864, Howard became commander of the Army of the Tennessee and fought in the Atlanta Campaign. He led the right wing of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman's forces in the famous March to the Sea and the subsequent Carolinas Campaign.
The women of Maine also distinguished themselves during the war, including Dorothea Dix Hamden, who served as a superintendent of nurses, and Amy Bradley, who supervised the Soldier’s Home in Washington. Other women helped coordinate the Sanitary Commission while others joined the Soldiers’ Aid Society. They worked doubly hard to maintain their homes, farms, and businesses, with their husbands, sons, and brothers away.
Brewer native Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, perhaps the most widely known officer from Maine, defended Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg and was awarded the Medal of Honor "for daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on the Great Round Top." His subordinate officers, including Ellis Spear and Holman S. Melcher, and the men of the 20th Maine successfully repulsed a series of charges made by Alabama troops of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Earlier in the war, the 20th had been led by Adelbert Ames of Rockland. The son of a sea captain, Ames rose at Gettysburg to command of a division. He led the successful assault in the Battle of Fort Fisher (commanding the 2nd Division, XXIV Corps), accompanying his men into the formidable coastal fortress as most of his staff were shot down by Confederate snipers.
Other notable generals from Maine included George Lafayette Beal of Norway, who led a brigade in the Red River Campaign and the Valley Campaigns of 1864. He was promoted to general for gallant service at the Battle of Cedar Creek, where his brigade broke the Confederate lines during the turning point of the battle. Hiram Berry of Rockland was killed at Chancellorsville while leading his 2nd Division of the III Corps in a bayonet charge. James G. Blunt, a fiery abolitionist born in Trenton, won a victory at the Battle of Honey Springs, bringing much of the Indian Territory into Union control. In 1864, Blunt's division inflicted the final defeat to Sterling Price at the Second Battle of Newtonia, ending Price's Missouri Raid.
Hiram Burnham of Narraguagus was killed while assaulting Confederate positions near Richmond, Virginia, during the Battle of Chaffin's Farm. Lowell's John C. Caldwell led a division in the Army of the Potomac at Gettysburg in the fighting in the Wheatfield. Aaron S. Daggett of Greene was the last surviving Union Civil War general when he died in 1938 at the age of 100. Neal S. Dow of Portland led a brigade during the Federal capture and occupation of New Orleans and later commanded the District of Florida.
Brothers Francis and James Fessenden, members of a prominent Maine political family, were both generals in the Union Army. Cuvier Grover of Bethel commanded a division in the XIX Corps during the capture of Baton Rouge and the Siege of Port Hudson. Hampden's Cyrus Hamlin led a brigade of black troops at Port Hudson and in other engagements. Albion P. Howe of Standish commanded 2nd Division of the VI Corps at Fredericksburg, Chancellorville, and Gettysburg. Rufus Ingalls of Denmark, Maine, was the Quartermaster General of the Army of the Potomac and later of all armies operating during the sieges of Richmond and Petersburg. He built up the huge supply depot at City Point, Virginia.
Erasmus D. Keyes of Kennebec County commanded the IV Corps of Army of the Potomac during the first half of the war. Augusta's Seth Williams was assistant adjutant general of the Army of the Potomac and later was inspector general on the staff of Ulysses S. Grant. At Appomattox Court House in April 1865, he carried Grant's message offering to accept Robert E. Lee's surrender to the Confederate lines and later delivered Grant's terms to the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia.
James Alden, Jr. of Portland commanded the steam sloop USS Brooklyn in the action with Fort Gaines and Fort Morgan and with the Confederate gunboats in the Battle of Mobile Bay. Henry K. Thatcher of Thomaston commanded the West Gulf Blockading Squadron in a combined arms action against Mobile, which surrendered April 12, 1865.
Danville Leadbetter, born in Leeds, however, had cast his lot with the Confederacy and became a general in its army. See also Maine in the American Civil War (1861-1865).

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