In December, my Maine at War blog examined topics ranging from a little-known Mainer with a famous name to women overlooked by history’s focus on soldiers and their battles.
December 1, 2021: Scarborough’s Hiram Berry fought in Louisiana and Virginia
The highest-ranking Mainer to die during the Civil War was Rockland’s Hiram Berry, a major general when a Confederate sniper killed him at Chancellorsville. A lesser-known Hiram Berry toted a rifle with the 12th Maine Infantry Regiment while fighting at Port Hudson and in the Shenandoah Valley.
Civil War historiography has inadequately examined the wives who kept the home fires burning as their husbands traipsed off to fight. In midsummer 1863, a civilian traveling on a steamer bound for New York City watched Massachusetts soldiers and their wives share their last minutes together as the ship reached its dock. A Maine newspaper published his letter.
During a patriotic celebration held by the 8th Maine Infantry Regiment on Port Royal Island in early 1864, uniformed participants raised the most cheers for Matilda Gordon Saxton, wife of Brig. Gen. Rufus Saxton, as she ran a massive American flag up a 100-foot flagpole.
After not hearing from her brother more than a week after the Fredericksburg debacle, a worried Maine woman wrote him courtesy of the 5th Maine Infantry Regiment. His response explained why soldiers had little time to write after that battle.
Newspaper “attaches” touring a Portland-area military camp in late January 1865 encountered two soldiers who should not have been there, but failed to investigate why.