Let Me Tell You About My Vacation…

July 25, 2010 - No Comments

by Jim Barnes

As some of you may know, I spent a week in Maine last May. Anyone who knows anything about the American Civil War knows that Maine made a major contribution to the Union war effort in many different sectors. Maine was one of the first states in the northeast to be aligned with the Republican party (Wikipedia) and was the adopted home of Harriet Beecher Stowe, author of  Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Lincoln also picked his first Vice-President from Maine-Hannibal Hamlin.

Also, Maine contributed more manpower, per capita, than any other Union state. The most famous of which was the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry which was commanded at the Battle of Gettysburg by Colonel Lawrence L. Chamberlain. Most of you have probably seen the movie, “Gettysburg” which starred Jeff Daniels in the role of Col. Chamberlain, and some of you, like myself, worked as reenactor extras on the film.

So, I was particularly interested in seeing everything that I could about Maine’s Civil War heritage during the trip. One of our first stops was at the Mt. Hope Cemetery in Bangor. This is one of America’s first ‘garden’ cemeteries and is the final resting place for many Maine Civil war soldiers. Below you will see markers for soldiers from the 20th and 2nd Maine infantries, for example. There is also an imposing memorial to the Union dead of Maine at the cemetery.  This consists of a large castle tower ringed with crenalation at the top. There was a large gun which appeared to be a 30-pounder Parrott rifle on a an iron naval mounting  gazing out from the battlement.  A semi-circle of grave markers of Civil War soldiers and sailors lay on the uphill side of the monument. At the corners of this area were four smoothbore guns of howitzer length mounted on wooden naval carriages. If anyone can definitely identify these  guns, make a comment below. Near the Civil War memorial is a large Korean War memorial which was bordered by the flags of all the United Nations participants in that war and a listing of the Maine dead.

Later in the trip, we visite the Chamberlain statue in Brewer, Maine, which is just across the Penobscot River from Bangor. This features a large statue of Colonel Chamberlain and below him near the highway is a statue of a freed slave. Chamberlain served as governor of Maine for 4 terms after the war and also as the president of Bowdoin College. He is still a much-admired figure in the state.

In fact, all during the trip, we encountered Civil War monuments in our travels. According to Wikipedia, about 70 thousand Maine men served in the Union military and the impact on the state was deeply felt.  If you are interested in the Civil War, Gettysburg and Virginia aren’t the only places to check out. Take a look at Maine. Just watch out for the black flies!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maine_in_the_American_Civil_War

http://www.mthopebgr.com/photo-gallery

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