Friday, July 07, 2006

New Home for First Maine Forward!!!!!

I have moved First Maine Forward to my Typepad account. The new URL is

I moved most of old posts but not the comments. I hope you like the new look. Please update your links. Thank you

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

New Books on the night stand

My work (the stuff I do to pay the bills) is no way related to my passion for reading and researching about the Civil War. The one connection between my corporate world job and my history life is that my job gives me the financial wherewithal to build my personal Civil War library. There is nothing more I like in then finding a new Civil War title. Over the past week I pick three new titles and added them to my reading list.

William Marverl's Mr. Lincoln Goes to War ( 2006, Houghton Mifflin). I have enjoyed Marvel’s writing in the past so I picked it up. I am about ½ through it. Marvel’s assertion that Lincoln was calculating in how he positioned the South to take the first shot is not really a new theory. Richard N. Current’s Lincoln and the First Shot ( 1963, Harper and Row) covered a lot of this same ground. Marvel is a little harsher in his view of Lincoln during the lead up to Fort Sumter. While Current cites Lincoln as being aware that launching and expedition to the fort would probably lead to war he also indicates that Lincoln believed that a peaceful solution could be reached. Marvel on the other hand indicates that Lincoln missed opportunities to prevent war and in fact fanned the flames. The one thing that stands out is how Marvel debunks the idea that northern soldiers in 1861 were strictly motivated for patriotic reasons. He writes that the abstract notions of patriotism or principle really only played a superficial role in getting men from the north to volunteer in 1861. His theory is that was not a lot of difference in the motivation between those soldiers who enlisted in 1861 to those who enlisted in 1863

The second book which I did find at my local Border’s is Glenn W. LaFantasie’s Gettysburg Requiem, The Life and Lost Causes of Confederate Colonel William C. Oates. (2006, Oxford University Press). I picked this up because I am a sucker for books that have to do with the action around Little Round Top. Growing up in Maine the stories of Joshua L. Chamberlain could not be ignored. As I have grown older understanding how the legend of Chamberlain has grown (a lot through his own hand) has become more interesting. I this book will provide some good insight into how Chamberlain’s chief opponent at Gettysburg viewed what happened and worked to memorialize the scarf ices of his men.

The third book just arrived today. Edmund J. Raus Jr.’s Banners South, A Northern Community at War ( 2005, Kent State University Press). An initial overview shows that this a regimental history of the 23rd NY with a twist. Instead of the traditional focus on strictly the military aspects of the 23rd’s history Raus deals extensively with the connection between the common solider and the home front. I am looking forward to reading this book because as I work through my own research the element of the home front is never far from the minds of the soldiers.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Am I a Centennialist?

Another day and yet another Centennialist rant. Does the fact that somebody reads and is inspired by a populist publication like American Heritage make one a Centennialist? If so I must be one because my first exposure to the Civil War came from the pages of AH and their picture history. If I am one does that mean so are Gary Gallagher and Gerry Prokopowicz? I heard them both say that AH was one of their first exposures to the Civil War. Maybe I should clean out my book case and fill the holes with some good quality anti-centennialist writings. I am still under forty so maybe there is time for me to purge my soul and get rid of the albatross around my neck.

Friday, June 16, 2006

June 18, 1864: “A Pile of Loyal Maine Legs and Arms..”

The 142nd anniversary of the Charge of the First Maine Heavy Artillery will fall this coming Sunday. I recently came across this reference to the aftermath of the charge.

June 19th, 1864
"I have been up to my elbows in blood all day, and its is a relief now just at night to turn for a few minutes homeward, where there is peace and happiness. Our Division had a terrible time yesterday afternoon charging the rebel lines- all the more terrible because the assault was repulsed. Our Brigade, fortunately was not e engaged… but the rest received an awful fire and, ever since here at the hospital, we have been full of the saddest business. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, now doing infantry services, a very large Regt. Composed of a fine class of young men was dreadfully cut up. 500 will not much exceed their loss in killed and wounded. The dear, glorious fellows have been writhing and groaning and dying ever since, and my heart aches for them. It is a sorry sight to see them brought one after the other - these Maine boys and laid on the Surgeon’s table. A pile of loyal Maine legs and arms is the token of what the day’s work has been. Petersburg seems a hard nut to crack and is costing us heavily."

Chaplin Joseph Hopkins Twichell, The Civil War Letters of Joseph Hopkins Twichell, A Chaplain's Story (University of Georgia Press, 2006)

The Charge of the First Maine Heavy Artillery has been listed as the single greatest battle loss of any regiment during the entire Civil War. To me the size of the losses on June 18, 1864 is not most important element of this story. What is most important is how the losses on June 18th effected the small towns and villages of Eastern Maine.

For example the town of Carmel, Maine in Penobscot County according to the 1860 Census had a population of 1271. In the course of the war this town had 14 men who were killed or mortally wounded. 10 out of the 14 who were members of the First Maine Heavy Artillery. 7 of those ten were killed on June 18, 1864. In other words .6% of the this town’s 1860 population was killed on June 18th. Cherryfield, Maine in Washington County had 5 men KIA/Mortally wounded on June 18th. This represented 31% of the towns total losses for the whole war.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Well My Ancestor was in the 12th Maine!!!

This comes from the Gospel Banner in Augusta, Maine dated August 27, 1864.

“The oddest pets we have yet seen, says a Washington paper, were two bears, which the 12th Maine Regiment, of the Nineteenth Corps, led through the city recently. These bears were brought all the way from Louisiana, and have been in several fights. The have become perfectly tame and tractable, and march along at the head of the band, with an air that indicates they feel themselves veteran soldiers of the bruin order, and that they have a character to sustain.”

Just shows you never know what you might find when you are doing research.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

New ACW Blog

Touch the Elbow is a new CIvil War related blog I just had a chance to look at today. It looks interesteing and I will be adding it to my links section.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Must See Radio

Fellow Blogger Kevin Levin is scheduled to appear on Civil War Talk Radio on Friday June 9th. I am looking to forward the hearing him and the discussion on his study of the Crater.
Civil War Top 100