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.

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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.