Maine at War: July 2019

20th Maine monumentHere’s what our friend Brian Swartz was up to in July at his blog Maine at War:

July 3, 2019: Fourteen names printed on 12 lines
A central Maine newspaper requires only 12 lines of type to list 14 soldiers from the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment killed or wounded. But those men were more than names printed in ink.

July 10, 2019: Maine musician watches the Army kill a deserter
Pvt. Samuel Franklyn Parcher of the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment watches a firing squad execute the first Union soldier shot for desertion during the Civil War. Parcher then describes the details in a letter to a Portland (Maine) friend.

July 17, 2019: Two Confederate monuments find a prettier home
The City of Lexington, Kentucky decides to relocate rather than destroy two prominent Confederate monuments, and a Mainer checks out their new home.

July 24, 2019: The 5th Maine boys tramped into a leaden hell
Advancing into heavy Confederate fire at Gaines Mill, the 5th Maine Infantry lads “involuntarily bent forward their heads” as they approached Stonewall Jackson’s fast-shooting veterans, remembered Col. Nathaniel Jackson.

July 31, 2019: Disparaged monument finds a quieter home 44 miles downriver
Months before Charlottesville, city and university officials move a prominent Confederate monument from the University of Louisville’s Belknap Campus to the Ohio River town of Brandenburg. A Mainer investigates.


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4 Responses to Maine at War: July 2019

  1. Mike Maxwell says:

    When we think of Maine’s contribution to the Civil War, most of us call up Colonel Joshua Chamberlain and his regiment’s performance at Gettysburg. But three other “Mainers” have caught my attention during the course of Civil War study: James E. Powell. Born in England, James married his wife in Maine and had his “home” at The Forks… when he was not on duty with the U.S. Army fighting Indians out West. By the time of the Civil War, Powell had gained promotion to 2/LT and in March 1862, as Major Powell, joined the 25th Missouri Infantry in time for the events at Shiloh. Today it is recognized that James Powell played a crucial role in stumbling upon “the whole Rebel Army,” the subsequent exchange of gunfire alerting the sleeping camp of Union troops at Pittsburg Landing that “the enemy was almost upon us.”
    William H. Chase. Born in Maine (then part of Massachusetts) at Buckfield in 1798 he was appointed to West Point in 1814 and one year later was graduated into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After spending forty years building masonry fortifications along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of America, Chase and his wife (from Louisiana) settled at Pensacola (the four forts there built by Chase). And William Chase left the Army and got involved in developing property and building railroads. With Florida lurching towards Secession late in 1860, Chase offered his services to Governor Perry and was installed as Colonel of Florida Militia. It was Colonel Chase who demanded surrender of Fort Pickens from Lieutenants Adam Slemmer (from Pennsylvania) and Jeremy Gilman (from Maine).

  2. Mike Maxwell says:

    Navy Quartermaster William Conway. Born in Knox County, Maine in 1802, Conway joined the U.S. Navy at an early age and was nearly sixty years old when assigned to duty at Pensacola Navy Yard in Florida. On 12 January 1861 the Navy Yard was surrendered to Militia forces; and at 1:30 p.m. Quartermaster Conway was ordered to, “Haul down the flag,” But Conway refused; and the officer who directed the action was forced to haul the flag down, himself. For this refusal to follow orders, Navy Quartermaster William Conway was awarded a Gold Medal in 1861 by patriots in California. (See “William Conway and the Conway Celebration of 1906” available at

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  4. Mike Maxwell says:

    Alonzo Ridley. This man was born in Maine, but was working in Massachusetts when GOLD was discovered in California. He joined the rush, and like most of the 49ers, had no luck. Ridley became an Indian agent, then an Indian fighter, and by the start of the Secession Crisis “back east,” he was Undersheriff of Los Angeles. At behest of Southern sympathizer, George Gift, Alonzo Ridley helped organize the Los Angeles Mounted Rifles in early 1861 (and when General Albert Sidney Johnston required an escort to get east across the desert to Texas, it was Captain Ridley and the Los Angeles Rifles that provided that service.) Once General Johnston joined the Confederate Army, Captain Ridley did, too, and organized “Buckner’s Guides” (a scout, courier and bodyguard service for Confederate Generals.)
    There is more to Alonzo Ridley’s story, but I have run out of room…

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