Memorial Day – Remembering the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery

A monument stands in the Petersburg National Battlefield near Colquitt’s Salient Trail. Today there are tall pine trees, a paved path and quiet. It’s hard to imagine that this exact spot was once an open field described as “a burning, seething, crashing, hissing hell”.

picture1sLieutenant Horace H. Shaw used those words to describe the events of 18 June 1864, when the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment, some 900 men, were ordered to charge across 300 yards of open field to attack the Confederate breastworks near the tree line. Of the nine hundred, 632 were killed or wounded in the span of 10 minutes. The largest loss of life in a single action of any regiment in the war.
picture4sIn 1895, Horace Shaw organized funds to purchase the land and commission the monument [details here].
picture7sOne of the survivors was my 1st cousin 4x removed George A Stanhope, older brother of Gilbert. George was 22 when he enlisted in 1862, his first child Emma had been born just a few months before. In November of 1864 he was promoted to Corporal and returned to Robbinston, Maine when he mustered out in June of 1865. He and his wife Susan (Laskey) had nine more children, I’ve only found seven of the ten so far: Emma, Sophronia, George Jr, John, Mary, Alice and Jessie. Susan died in 1912 and two years later George married Sophia Hatt. He died 24 May 1919 in Calais, Maine.
1stMaine1

The more I read about what the men of the 1st Maine went through, the more I respect and appreciate the sacrifice made by the men and women in our military. I will certainly make every effort to observe Memorial Day more formally going forward, they deserve at least that.

If you are planning to visit this National Park, I’d highly recommend a visit to Civil War Hikes.
Maine-Virginia

Images Courtesy of Clarence Woodcock http://www.cwoodcock.com/firstmaine/index.html

Original source for much information about the 1st Maine and the first 3 images:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 20-22 May 2014.

This post is 21st in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

1st Maine Heavy Artillery 52 Ancestors: #20 Gilbert Stanhope

In 1862, Peter (my 3rd great-grand uncle) and Caroline (Davis) Stanhope had 5 sons of age to serve in the military. Curtis registered, but I can find no record of military service. Aaron and Lorenzo served in Infantry regiments (9th and 28th, respectively), George and Gilbert served in Company D of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.

Fortunately they all survived the war, though not without some physical reminders. In 1890 Gilbert was documented suffering as from rheumatism and deafness, he was 44 years old.

Year: 1890; Census Place: Jonesboro, Whitneyville and Marshfield, Washington, Maine; Roll: 7; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 59. Ancestry.com. 1890 Veterans Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.

Year: 1890; Census Place: Jonesboro, Whitneyville and Marshfield, Washington, Maine; Roll: 7; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 59. Ancestry.com. 1890 Veterans Schedules [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005. Image modified by author to show the relevant lines.

Over a 30 day span, he would have participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Second Cold Harbor and Petersburg as well as a number of smaller skirmishes. During that short time, over 1100 of his comrades in the 1st Maine were killed or wounded [over 600 in just 10 minutes at Petersburg]. And the war wasn’t over, they fought for almost another year. The accounts [see Ch.9 A Burning, Seething, Crashing, Hissing Hell] of 18 June 1864 at Petersburg alone are horrifying, I can’t imagine how the survivors could ever shake the shadow of war.

Gilbert returned to Washington county after the war and married Charlotte Frost. He worked as a farm laborer and lumberman. They had seven children: Frank, Lillie, Jonas, Betsy Annie, Sadie, Isabel and Gilbert.

In 1885, the survivors of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery gathered in Portland, Maine. I’m not sure if Gilbert was there, I’d love to find a picture of him to compare with this one.

Courtesy of Clarence Woodcock http://www.cwoodcock.com/firstmaine/index.html Image from the book "The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865" by Horace H. Shaw, Charles J. House. Citation details at the bottom of the page.

Courtesy of Clarence Woodcock http://www.cwoodcock.com/firstmaine/index.html
Image from the book “The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865” by Horace H. Shaw, Charles J. House. Citation details at the bottom of the page.

Gilbert died 17 June 1902 at age 56. According to his death record he broke his neck falling out of a wagon while intoxicated. A sad, unfortunate end to be sure.

Source for much information about the 1st Maine and the reunion image:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 12-14 May 2014.

This post is 20th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

“We lost some noble men”: The 1st Maine Heavies at Harris Farm

150 years ago today… great post from Chris Mackowski on the Emerging Civil War blog on the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.

Emerging Civil War

Bloomsbury, the home of Harris Clement Harris’s home, Bloomsbury

May 19, 1864, was “a day long to be remembered by the 1st Maine Heavy,” wrote a member of the regiment, “as it was on this day that we received our baptism of fire and learned the stern duties of a soldier.”

With the Overland Campaign bleeding the Army of the Potomac dry, Ulysses S. Grant called for fresh blood. Among those answering the call were “heavy artillery” units from the defenses around Washington—including the 1st Maine Heavies, shipping south from Fort Sumner, located in what is now Bethesda, Maryland.

No sooner had they joined the army, though, than they found themselves embroiled in a hot fight.

View original post 1,738 more words

1st Maine Heavy Artillery Survivor 52 Ancestors: #19 Frederick Stanhope

After the The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment fought along with the rest of the Army of the Potomac in smaller battles at the North Anna river and Totopotomoy Creek. In early June they fought in the battle known as Second Cold Harbor, near Mechanicsville, VA. In Grant’s memoir he wrote “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made… no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”

Map by Hal Jespersen, www.posix.com/CW

Map by Hal Jespersen, http://www.posix.com/CW

It was there that my 2nd great-grand uncle Frederick Stanhope received a gunshot wound. I’m not sure if the wound prevented him from fighting in any of the battles over the next year or so, but he did survive the war.

Frederick was about 17 when he enlisted 5 Jan 1864. He was mustered out 11 Sept 1865 and returned home to Robbinston, Washington County, Maine.

Cold Harbor Wounded

Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 12-14 May 2014.

A little over a year later, he married Hannah McLaughlin and they had four children: Sarah, Laura, Lucy and Frederick Jr.

Frederick was the eldest son of Rodolphus and Charlotte (Leighton), one of 10 children. I’m related to him through his older sister Sarah (my 3rd great-grandmother) AND his younger brother Sewall (my 2nd great-grandfather).

He died in Dennysville, Maine of tuberculosis on 1 May 1898, at age 52.

Stanhope, Frederick CW Pension Index

Stanhope, Frederick Pension Index. Roll T288 – 449. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S., Civil War Pension Index: General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.

This post is 19th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse 52 Ancestors: #18 George Henry Hayward

George Hayward was a 33-year-old father of six when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. His youngest child, Anna Amelia [my 2nd great-grandmother], had turned two the week before he was mustered into Company K of the 18th Maine Infantry Regiment.

In 1912 the Lewiston Journal published a profile on George in which some stories were shared that I think offer some great perspective on the life of a new soldier in 1862. Thanks to David Colby Young, the family of the late Robert L. Taylor and the Androscoggin Historical Society for transcribing and permission to share from their transcription of the original.

When the companies arrived at Portland they found tents pitched and a good supply of provisions. Most of the officers had little knowledge of what a soldier’s duty was.
When the uniforms came the space between the bottom of the pant’s legs I and the tops of the new army shoes was often an illustration of the relation of 4 the northern and southern states at that time. Nothing could bring them together.

After a while the men began to look natural but it was a good thing that there were no looking glasses. The little army cap, issued and worn at that time, the men regarded as a joke and wore it in all forms except that of a soldier. The arms and equipments, included an unnecessary amount of leather straps and a cartridge box. These were put on in every conceivable manner at, first. But the men soon adjusted themselves to their harness… Aug 24th, Sunday, the regiment took the train for Washington.

Many of the men saw Boston for the first time.

Many of the survivors will remember the reception at the cooper shop in Philadelphia, a refreshing bath and delicious supper. They arrived in Washington about noon of the 27th and were quickly marched into a huge barrack rack, where they were served with a slice of bread, and a piece of boiled beef, with poor coffee to drink and no place to sit down.

That night they encamped with out tents on the side of a hill which had been washed by the, rain, leaving upon the surface stones about the size of a robin’s egg, which, of course made very restless beds.

After a year and nine months of garrison duty in Washington D.C., the 18th Infantry was converted into the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment and assigned to join Grant’s army in Virginia, near Spotsylvania for the Overland Campaign. Again from the Lewiston Journal transcription:

Soon the men of Co. K were in active warfare and in the first battle at Spottsylvania courtyard, Mr. Hayward was wounded. The old soldier’s eyes filled with tears as he told how with the last charge in his gun, he was shot by a rebel.

On the 19th of May, In the same battle where Samuel Collier was killed, George was injured. While prone a bullet struck him between his spine and right shoulder-blade and traveled down his back. The bullet was cut from his hip area. George spent the next year in various hospitals and was eventually discharged in May 1865. According to his pension application he suffered lingering issues due to his injury and collected $12 per month as a result.

George and Rachel (Carter) Hayward. Used with kind permission of David Bennett

George and Rachel (Carter) Hayward. Used with kind permission of David Bennett

George was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia 19 July 1829, the son of Stephen and Anna (Gould) Hayward. In 1850 he married Rachel Bridges Carter (1832-1919), the eldest daughter of Samuel and Sarah (Cox) Carter. One more quote from the Lewiston Journal tells how they met:

One day while going to Pembroke to do some haying, he came to a big mud puddle, and on the other side of it he saw a pretty young lady. He helped her over and they soon became good friends. The young lady was Rachel B. Carter of Pembroke. On Jan. 2, 1850 she became his wife.

They would go on to have 12 children, 44 grandchildren and 66 great-grandchildren [that I know of]. George died 2 Sep 1913 in Dennysville, Maine at 84 years old.

This post is 18th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse 52 Ancestors: #17 Samuel Collier

You may have heard of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment. The unit has the unfortunate distinction of having the most men killed and mortally wounded in battle of any Union regiment during the Civil War. Samuel Collier, the husband of my 2nd great-grand aunt Frances Ellen Bowen, was one of them.

Samuel was born in England around 1830 and married Frances in November of 1861. They lived in Perry, Maine and in August of 1862 when the Army came to enlist men in Washington County, he signed up. His was originally the 18th Maine Infantry unit and the men of Washington County were assigned to Company K.

Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine

Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine 1863
Source Information:
Ancestry.com. U.S., Adjutant General Military Records, 1631-1976 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Various. Sacramento, California: California State Library.

For the next year and nine months, Company K served in defense of Washington D.C. in Batteries Cameron and Parrott and trained in Infantry and Heavy Artillery tactics. In April 1863, Frances gave birth to their son and named him after his father that he would never meet. Garrison duty in D.C. doesn’t sound like it was very exciting, they did a lot of practicing and drills, but never saw any actual combat. That was about to change.

In early May 1864 Grant’s Overland Campaign began and with it, the order for most of the regiments on guard duty in D.C. to join the battle. The 1st Maine joined Tyler’s Heavy Artillery Division. They met up with the main Army near Spotsylvania on May 18th and the next day had their baptism by fire.

Spotsylvania - May 12 1864. Map from NPS.gov, public domain

Spotsylvania – May 12 1864. Map from NPS.gov, public domain

Although the men of the 1st had been in service for some time, they were still “green”. When they were pressed into service near Harris’ farm to defend the right flank from Ewells’ attack, they fought in a more formal, by-the-book style, rather than the get on the ground/behind cover/in a foxhole – just survive – style that the veterans used. The veterans had learned that there is honor in living to fight another day.

So they stood, literally, in the open and fired at the enemy while being fired upon. As you can imagine, the results were devastating: 82 killed (including 6 officers), 394 wounded, 5 missing. Eventually the Union troops forced the retreat of Ewell’s men and ended the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. This was only the beginning for the 1st Maine, but that’s a story for another time.

For an excellent writeup of this unit, check out Andrew MacIsaac’s thesis “Here the Reaper was the Angel of Death: The First Maine Heavy Artillery During the Overland Campaign” posted here. Also see the National Park Service Regiment Details site.

This post is 17th in the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge series.

Wake Forest Cemetery Walking and Virtual Tours

I have this addiction to cemeteries. I’m sure I’m not alone, I’ve seen you all out there with me. Is vacation not complete if it doesn’t include a trip to a burial ground? Like two years ago, when we stopped at the Bentonville Battlefield (NC) and Confederate graveyard on our way home from the beach And a few years before that spent our anniversary walking through St. Mary’s Cemetery in Rochester, NH looking for the headstones of my great-great grandparents (we found them!).

One of the things I miss about not living in New England is not being able to search the cemeteries where my family members are personally. I’m sure many relocated family historians feel the same way.

Well, if your people are from Wake Forest, NC, I have great news. The town, in cooperation with the Cemetery Advisory Board [full disclosure, I’m a member] has added a Virtual element to their annual Cemetery Walking Tour.

The Walking Tour takes place the second Saturday in May annually, this year that’s next week: May 10th from 9:30am-12:30pm. There are docents representing various families, sharing their stories, photos and artifacts. The Sons of Confederate Veterans speak about some of the soldiers buried there. It is a fitting tribute and remembrance to those that have come before. More information on the tour is on the Town of Wake Forest website.

poster

The virtual tour is a wonderful addition, available on the web or via the Town of Wake Forest app (available on iOS and Android). You can use it for your own personal tour any time on your phone while walking around the cemetery. But perhaps more importantly for some, you never have to leave your chair, you can access it from anywhere!

WF Cemetery Tour Screenshot

WF Cemetery Tour Screenshot

There are currently 8 person-profiles, including the earliest known grave, several of the WF College presidents and other prominent citizens. The plan is to continually add new profiles and photos, not just of the headstones, but of the person along with a brief bio.

iOS Screenshot

iOS Screenshot

I applaud the town for its forward-thinking embrace of technology [did you hear we are getting a gigabit fiber network?] and hope that other towns and cemeteries do the same. While it will never replace actually being there, having this type of information online available means that someone who cannot travel can see the final resting place of a loved one. I hope more and more cemeteries can add this, especially the ones in Rochester, NH where my family is buried, my wife wants to go somewhere else for our anniversary.