First Maine Forward

The history of the Maine First Heavy Artillery has always fascinated me. Having grown up in Maine and having developed an early interest in the Civil War I heard and read about the 20th Maine at Gettysburg but some thing always bugged me that true experience of Maine’s involvement in the Civil War went much deeper. I don’t actually recall when I first came across a reference to the First Maine Heavy Artillery. It may have been their flag that used to be displayed at the State Capital Building in Augusta. The orignal flags are being preserved by the Maine State Museum.

Whatever it was the story of this regiment has fascinated me. I wanted to be able to understand how this regiment came earn the distinction of suffering having suffered the greatest number of battle casualties of any regiment during the Civil War. The short story is that this 900+ members of this regiment charged the Confederate line outside Petersburg, VA on June 18, 1864 and in as little 10 minutes 630 of these men were either killed or wounded. In my quest to learn more I went out and bought a copy of the original regimental history published by Horace Shaw and Charles House in 1903. While an invaluable research tool for it’s well detailed unit roster the narrative history is some what lacking as it provides no critical analysis of how the regiment came to earn their bloody history.

So with my thirst unquenched I determined to research the history of the regiment. It is a journey I am still on and still enjoy. Over the years I have amassed hundreds of pages of articles, reminisces, letters, diaries, photos and references to the First Maine Heavy Artillery. Along the way I have met some people with similar interest in the history of this regiment. Many thanks go to Clarence Woodcock (a descendant of solider from the First Maine) who has produced and manages a web site dedicated to memory of the First Maine Heavy Artillery. Another person who I came in contact with on this journey was Mike McCardell. I will share more on Mike in a later post but those who had the privilege to know him and call him a friend know how much he is missed.

I am at a point now that I think I can begin to pull my research together try to tell the story of the First Maine Heavy. My challenge is getting the words to flow. I am hoping that bogging will help me keep the creative juices flowing. While I have a my master’s thesis as a starting point I still have to go through the process of expanding the scope and trying to tell the complete story as well as better analyzing how the experience of the First Maine impacted the men of this regiment. My goal is to write a book that does the history of the First Maine Heavy Artillery proud with lots of notes, a complete bibliography and lots of maps and illustrations.


I've never felt the pull to write a history of my ancestor's regiment, the 42nd Georgia, but I understand the impulse.

I wish you luck and publication. We'll let that line that runs across the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania best left unmentioned.
Andy said…
David, thanks for the comments. from what I can tell I did not have an ancestor in the ACW but the attraction to better undertsnd teh experience of these men on both sides has always been there for me.


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