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  • Maine Soldiers in the Civil War

    Russell C. Farnham, CG

    At some point, genealogical researchers will be motivated to attack the many volumes of published material on the Civil War. It can be a challenge, depending upon how deep the researcher wishes to go in finding information about his ancestor. Some researchers may be content with the knowledge that "John Smith" served in various battles, was discharged, and returned home to raise his family. Others may have a more abiding interest in learning of the battles and units that the individuals served in, exactly where they took place, the strategy, the sickness, the traveling, the heroes, and most important, the detail that lays it all out (known in this business as the source). The source provides documented "proof" of service, but also serves to expand the "face" of the ancestor. A tale that was passed down (and possibly embellished) by generations now becomes very real, and is supported by factual, official source material from the United States government.

    On April 22, 1861, General Order No. 6 was issued by Maine Governor and Commander-in-Chief Israel Washburn, Jr. Typically, the order was issued by his Adjutant General, John L. Hodsdon, and was addressed to Major Generals James H. Butler, 1st Division; William H. Titcomb, 2nd Division; and William Wirt Virgin, 3rd Division. The order directed that they enlist "TEN THOUSAND VOLUNTEERS, to be organized into Ten Regiments, without regard to present military districts, immediately enlisted and mustered into the active militia service of the State."

    Each company was to consist of one captain, two lieutenants, four sergeants, four corporals, one fifer, one drummer, and not less than fifty nor more than eighty-five privates. Men below the rank of commissioned officer were not accepted if they were above forty-five or under eighteen years of age, or if they were not in good physical health. Interestingly, the order also stipulated "When practicable, you will detail a commissioned or non-commissioned officer to drill, discipline and instruct such recruits." 1The very broad wording of this order supports the urgent atmosphere and the popular notion that the majority of the soldiers left their farms, businesses, and families to serve with only the most limited training to prepare them for war.

    The following represents the staff of the 1st Regiment, Maine Volunteers: 2

    Nathaniel J. Jackson, Lewiston, Colonel
    Albion Witham, Portland, Lieutenant Colonel
    George G. Bailey, Portland, Major
    James S. Fillebrown, Lewiston, Adjutant
    William S. Dodge, Portland, Quartermaster
    Wentworth P. Richardson, Portland, Surgeon
    A.A.C. Williams, Brunswick, Assistant Surgeon
    George Knox, Brunswick, Chaplain
    Foster Randall, Lewiston, Sergeant Major
    Stephen H. Manning, Brunswick, Quartermaster Sergeant
    George J. Northrop, Portland, Hospital Steward
    David Jones, Westbrook, Drum Major
    Cyrus Freeman, Lewiston, Fife Major

    The following soldiers were raised and mustered May 3, 1861 by Capt. J W Gardiner, for three months service at Portland, for service in Company "A," 1st Regt of Maine Volunteers, commanded by Capt. Tukey.

    Rank Name Age Residence
    Captain George W Tukey 44 Portland
    Lieutenant George H. Chadwell 30 do
    Lieutenant Charles L McAllister 28 do
    Sergeant John M. Beal 32 do
    Sergeant Alex. Bell 44 do
    Sergeant Perez B. Burnham 26 do
    Sergeant Simeon B. Wiggin 36 do
    Corporal Charles A. Chellis 32 do
    Corporal James Berry 45 do
    Corporal Charles H. Scott 22 do
    Corporal Benjamin F. Witham 25 do
    Musician William H. Sewell 34 do
    Musician Joseph H. Graham 22 Fall River
    Private George M. Adams 26 Westbrook
    do John R. Begg 19 Portland
    do Davis C. Bowker 35 do
    do John E. Barnard 34 do
    do Thomas Barry 19 C. Elizabeth
    do Freeman N. Boynton 22 do
    do John B. Bowie 22 Portland
    do John F. Copp 20 do
    do John F. Collins 22 Philadelphia
    do Benjamin S. Cushman 18 Portland
    do Thaddeus W. Coolbroth 21 do
    do Charles B. Chamberlain 18 C. Elizabeth
    do Edmund W. Dyer 22 do
    do John Green 31 Portland
    do Stephen H. Guptill 21 Fryeburg
    do Rufus W. Hyde 33 Portland
    do Webb Hall 30 do
    do Nils A. Hanson 23 do
    do Henry D. Hall 27  
    do Charles L. Holbrook 19 Starks
    do Thomas Hanley 19 Cumberland
    do Edward J. Hockley 23 Portland
    do Charles E. Illsley 23 Harrison
    do George S. Jordan 21 C. Elizabeth
    do Andrew B. Jordan 23 do
    do Frank S. Kennard 21  
    do Merritt A. Kennard 19  
    do William Lovitt 21 C. Elizabeth
    do James Lovitt 19 do
    do Edward R. Lincoln 22 Portland
    do John H. Munsey 23 do
    do George H. McKenney 23 do
    do Angus McDonald 27 do
    do Albion Murray 21 Westbrook
    do Charles P. Norton 21 Portland
    do Charles H. Newell 20 do
    do Charles H. Osgood 26 East Boston
    do John B. Pike 31 Portland
    do Tobias Pillsbury 2d 20 C. Elizabeth
    do Albert H. Purinton 23 Portland
    do Frank G. Rich 26 do
    do George H. Ross 21  
    do Edward Roach 29 do
    do Albert W. Smith 25 do
    do Thomas W. Soule 27 do
    do George Strong 32 do
    do Charles W. Stockman 24 do
    do Daniel W. Stackpole 24 do
    do George W. Swett 20 Gorham
    do John B. Swett 23 Portland
    do Albert H. Swett 21 do
    do George L. Stevens 27 Westbrook
    do Edw. G. Schoonmaker 22 Cleveland
    do George R. W. Thaxter 22 Portland
    do William D. Tyrrell 23 C. Elizabeth
    do Samuel O. Waterhouse 22 Portland
    do Edward P. Wyer 29 do
    do Oliver G. Whitten 26 do
    do Benjamin F. Whitten 39 do
    do John Witham    
    do Albert S. Watts 22 N. Gloucester
    do Henry E. Willard 23 C. Elizabeth
    do Alvan S. Wilson 19 Portand
    do Alfred R. Wormwood 21 N. Gloucester


    An appendix contained in the same volume provides more personal detail of individuals, such as their name; age; residence; marital status; date mustered into service; the date of death, imprisonment, and discharge, if applicable; place of illness, if applicable, and remarks. Not all of the information is complete for each individual, but the range of information that is available in these volumes is evident. The following are selected excerpts: 3

    • Private Jeremiah C. Gilman, age 20, was of Milo, single, and was mustered into service 28 May 1861, in Company D, 2nd Inf. Regt. He was wounded at Bull Run, and died November 1861 at Richmond, VA.

    • Corporal Lewis R. Haskell, age 25, was also of Milo, single, and also mustered into service 28 May 1861, also in Company D, 2nd Inf. Regt. He was taken prisoner at Richmond Va., on 21 July.

    • Sergeant Stephen D. Millett, age 38, married of Milo, was mustered into service on 28 May 1861, and was promoted to 2d Lieutenant 2 Oct. He may have served with a brother, also Sergeant, Samuel V. Millett, age 43, married, also of Milo who was discharged 4 Oct with a disability.

    In addition to the published volumes relating to the service of individuals, there are other military records that can provide still further information about our ancestors.

    Compiled Military Service Records: Each individual who served during the Civil War had a Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR) for each regiment in which he served. The Civil War section of the National Archives website describes it in detail: "The CMSR contains basic information about the soldier's military career, and it is the first source the researcher should consult. The CMSR is an envelope (a jacket) containing one or more cards. These cards typically indicate that the soldier was present or absent during a certain period of time. Other cards may indicate the date of enlistment and discharge, amount of bounty paid him, and other information such as wounds received during battle or hospitalization for injury or illness. The soldier's place of birth may be indicated; if foreign born, only the country is stated. The CMSR may contain an internal jacket for so-called 'personal papers' of various kinds. [Note] however that the CMSR rarely indicates battles in which a soldier fought; that information must be derived from other sources." 4

    Pension Records: Most Union soldiers or widows or minor children applied for a pension. In other cases, a dependent father or mother would apply. There are 544 rolls of film that are indexed and available for viewing through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) (T288, General Index to Pension Files 1861-1934). These records can be accessed in person at the National Archives (700 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20408-0001). No prior arrangement is necessary. Copies of records are available by mail, by using NATF Form 85 (Pension) and NATF Form 86 (CMSR) for each soldier. The forms can be requested by sending an email that includes your name and address, form number, and number of copies requested to mailto:inquire@nara.govor by writing to:

    National Archives and Records Administration
    Attn: NWDT1
    700 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20408-0001

    The National Archives and Records Administration also has a branch office at the Frederick C. Murphy Federal Center, (380 Trapelo Road, Waltham, Mass., 02452-6399; phone [781] 647-8104; It serves the New England states, and is open Monday, Tuesday, and Friday from 8 a.m to 4:30 p.m, and Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. No original records are pulled after 4 p.m. Civil War Pension records are not available at this branch, but there are a host of New England records available there, and researchers are best advised to call first.

    Records of Events: Information about a soldier's war activities can be deduced from the activities of each company. These were compiled from the original muster rolls and returns, and vary in content. Some give day-by-day narratives of a company's activities. They rarely name individuals. The records of Union regiments are reproduced on microfilm (225 rolls, M594, Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations). Confederate regiments are reproduced in 74 rolls (M861, Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Confederate Organizations). These rolls are arranged by state, by regiment and by company, and are being published as Supplement to the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 51 volumes (Wilmington, NC: Broadfoot Publishing Co., 1994-97).

    Most states have published volumes of material that show infinite detail about those who served from their state. There are six volumes issued by the Maine Adjutant General that provide much detail about the individuals who served from that state:

    • Annual Report of the Adjutant General of State of Maine, for the Year ending December 31, 1861
    • Annual Report of the Adjutant General of State of Maine, for the Year ending December 31, 1862
    • Annual Report of the Adjutant General of State of Maine, for the Year ending December 31, 1863
    • Annual Report of the Adjutant General of State of Maine, for the Year 1864 and 1865, Vol 1.
    • Annual Report of the Adjutant General of State of Maine, for the Year 1864 and 1865, Vol 2.
    • Annual Report of the Adjutant General of State of Maine, for the Year ending December 31, 1866.

    Unfortunately, these annual reports are difficult to navigate, owing to the lack of an index. It is therefore absolutely essential that researchers know the military organization of the person being researched. The alternative is to spend hours pouring over these four-inch thick volumes. Even that may never yield the name of an ancestor because he may appear in another volume, or in the same volume but in a different company to which he may have been transferred. The state of Maine recognized this, and issued a supplement 5containing five different indices. Of particular note is the initial index of Volunteers in Maine and U.S. Organizations:

    Volunteers from April 1861 to 1 Jan 1863
    Volunteers from 1 Jan 1863 to the close of the war

    The other more singular reference is of Persons Drafted, Furnished Substitutes in 1863. Two remaining indices are of individuals: Transferred and omitted [and] Additional. These provide a smoother transition into the earlier volumes and should permit more rapid identification of ancestors.

    1. Annual Report of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine for the year ending December 31, 1861 (Augusta: Stevens & Sayward, printers to the state, 1862):81.
    2. Ibid, 52-53.
    3. Ibid, Appendix D:10.
    5. Supplement to the Annual Reports of the Adjutant General of the State of Maine for the years 1861, 62, 63, 64, 65, and 1866 (Augusta: Stevens & Sayward, printers to the state, 1867). 

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