Civil War Exhibit: Kennebunk at War

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[Wall quote: “Our loss has been severe in the Maine Regiments.” – Joseph Eaton, December 1862]

Death and Disease

 [Quote: “We went through some of the wards where they were dressing the wounds and they looked bad to me. One poor fellow was having his leg taken off as we passed.  He was groaning dreadfully and the blood was running in streams on the floor…If a person wishes to get an idea of war let him go over one of these hospitals after a battle and he will see sights he never dreamed before.” – Seth Bryant, February 1863]

The average field doctor had little or no formal education in medicine. Soldiers often nicknamed the regimental doctors “butcher.” Those soldiers that survived injuries in battle risked a high rate of infection due to the unsanitary conditions of the hospital. Because of their situation on the front lines, washing hands or instruments was rare. This gave way to “surgical fevers” which are caused by bacteria cells that generate pus, destroy tissue, and release toxins into the bloodstream. Gangrene, the rotting away of flesh caused by obstruction of blood flow, was also common after surgery.

 Camps were populated by mostly younger soldiers, who had never been exposed to more common illnesses, and often succumbed to diseases such as measles, chickenpox, mumps, and whooping cough. For every soldier killed in battle, two died of disease. The Confederacy suffered as well; one quarter of its troops succumbed to disease caused by rotting food or contaminated water.

Common diseases during the War:

  Typhoid Fever:

Transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Symptoms include fever, headache, delirium, and a distended abdomen. The disease killed nearly 30,000 Confederate and 35,000 Union troops. Chances of survival: One in three.


An inflammatory disorder of the intestines and colon caused by bacterial infections. Symptoms include painful abdominal muscle spasms and chronic diarrhea. This disease killed 45,000 Union and 50,000 Confederate troops.


Fever, difficulty breathing, and chest pain are associated with this disease, transferred by infectious agents like bacteria and parasites. In the 19th century, it was referred to as “captain of the men of death.” Responsible for deaths of 20,000 Union and 17,000 Confederate troops

 Yellow Fever and Malaria:

Once an infected mosquito bit a person, the onset of the disease began in a few days.  Symptoms included head and body aches, high fever, and vomiting. Damage to the liver resulted in a yellowing of the eyes and the skin. Patients often vomited the blood, which appeared black. Affected 1.1 million Union troops alone.


This disease was caused by a lack of vitamin C. The gums become spongy and teeth become loose; mucus membranes begin to bleed. Soldiers rarely received vitamin C, as it is mostly found in fruits and vegetables which were not part of their daily rations.


The Views at Home

 [Quote: “The great absorbing topic of conversation and reading at the present time  now but a passing notice.  People have not the disposition to read books giving accounts of past events, when present events are, to us, of so much more importance.” – Andrew Walker, Sept 12 1862]


Like today, opposing views on the war and its management were consistent topics of conversation in Kennebunk. While most people in town agreed with the Abolitionist platform, many men in town spoke out against Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and supported each state’s right to choose the legality of slavery or not. Constant delays of Union generals, resulting in high casualties and money wasted, frustrated Kennebunk citizens. On January 3, 1862, Edward Emerson Bourne wrote: “No progress in suppressing the rebellion. The government and army seem to have gone into winter quarters. General Scott’s principle of conquering an enemy by waiting may do very well, when he has an army of five or 10 thousand men only, but when one of 600,000 is eating up the substance of the country, such a principal will meet with no response in the patriot’s heart.”

By March 1863, Kennebunkers had become used to the daily reports from the battlefield. The Civil War had become more commonplace; the level of excitement within the town dropped off and citizens did not speak as much about the topic as when the war commenced. During his time with the 27th Regiment, Seth Bryant reported that Kennebunk men and women sometimes visited the men at camp; William Perkins of Kennebunkport stayed for a few days. Major James Stone’s wife stayed with him for at least a month.

 Captain Nathaniel Lord Thompson returned from a trip to Baltimore, and reported what he saw during a tour through regimental camps in Maryland. He told Andrew Walker that the nine-month men were in “bad condition,” and those that had been there more than a year were “in a filthy condition, and some are ragged.”

 The men liable to be drafted from Kennebunk in 1863 petitioned the town for assistance to their dependent families if they were to leave for war. They asked for $300 to each soldier’s family, which was the same amount each drafted man would be fined if he skipped the draft or procured a substitute. A week later, the selectmen decided on a price: each man would be paid $275. An argument ensued over whether all drafted men would be paid – whether or not they actually went to war. In the end, only men accepted into U.S. service (not those who did not pass the medical requirements) were paid.



 A drafted man in the Civil War could hire a substitute to take his place. Early in the war, men either volunteered or found substitutes within the town to take their places. However, as the war drew on, more and more men hired substitutes from Canada. In 1864, the price men paid in Portland for a substitute was $375, which equals about $10,125 today.

 [Requirements for the draft, August 1862:

Acton                         26

Alfred                                     21

Berwick                      41

Biddeford                   74

Buxton                        53

Cornish                      10

Dayton                        16

Eliot                            46

Hollis                           31

Kennebunk                49       

Kennebunkport         62

Kittery                        60

Lebanon                     45

Limerick                     26

Limington                  30

Lyman                                    26

Newfield                     19

North Berwick                       29

Parsonsfield               36

Saco                            63

Shapleigh                   23       

Sanford                      39

South Berwick                       51

Waterborough                       31

Wells                           53

York                           67]

 As the war continued, townspeople depended on the newspaper for news of developments in the campaign. Far too often, they received false reports of events and outcomes. Andrew Walker noted how quiet the streets of the town had become, as so many men had left to fight. The war engendered a military feeling in most people in town. Men and boys wore different kinds of military clothing in Kennebunk as normal outerwear. Retailers sold army clothing for cheap prices, and as soldiers returned home the clothing became even more common. Consequently, light blue pants, dark blue frock coats, and soldiers’ caps became an ordinary sight on the streets of Kennebunk.

[Interactive with a soldier’s uniform. Click on different parts of the uniform and a description will pop up]

[Did You Know?

 In April 1861, Kennebunkport man Jeremiah Kahal (commonly called Jerry Kelly) enlisted as a soldier and traveled South. After he left, the village heard a number of reports of his death. Upon hearing the reports of his own death, Kahal wrote to his wife: “If you hear again that I am dead, do not believe it until you hear from me.”]

The economy suffered as the war continued. With so much of the population at war, Andrew Walker believed that people in Kennebunk would not be able to do “business enough during the coming winter to pay their way.” Taxes rose to pay war expenses; beginning January 1, 1862, Congress passed a tax bill to raise $20,000,000 for the war effort. Local companies and ship owners noticed the change, too. Factories on the Mousam River had too much product on hand that did not sell.

                       Captain Nathaniel Lord Thompson noted that when the Civil War began, there were about fifty vessels that went on foreign voyages from Kennebunk. By 1864, no more than ten vessels were owned in both Kennebunk and Kennebunkport. The price of cotton and cotton goods skyrocketed. In one year, 1860 to 1861, the price to purchase cotton for Andrew Walker’s store doubled, from 11 to 22 cents per bale.

 The pall cast on men in town from near-constant calls for more soldiers became a common threat. By 1864, many young men in York County and throughout Maine left their homes to avoid the draft. As Andrew Walker described, some went to Canada, some to California, and many on “foreign voyages, that make the annual voyage of four months or more.” During the September 1864 draft, nearly one-third of the names drawn for Kennebunkport were absent, either at sea or elsewhere.




[Wall sign: “Join the Cavalry! The most dashing brand of service – protect the country, secure the bounty, and avoid the draft.”]


The 1st Maine Cavalry was organized at Augusta, Maine, where the men mustered in on October 31, 1861, for three years. This regiment, including several men from Kennebunk, saw more men killed in battle than any other cavalry regiment in the army. 15 Officers and 159 enlisted men were killed and mortally wounded, three Officers and 341 enlisted men died of disease, for a total of 518.


[Did You Know?

Agents enlisted by the U.S. to purchase horses for the army traveled throughout New England, with many of the horses coming from New Hampshire and Vermont. In a four month period, from October 1862 to February 1863, one agent passing through Kennebunk had purchased 1,800 horses at an average cost of $75 each.]


Private Joseph Eaton of Wells wrote of his experience in battle with the 1st Maine Cavalry in a letter to his family in late August, 1862: “I was detailed with the surgeon all day to help take up the wounded and conduct the Ambulances from the battlefield. About dark, my horse tired out and dropped down. The Rebels were so near me that I did not stop to unpack my saddle, but fell in with the ranks of the 30th NY. Retreated to Centerville, where we arrived about midnight. Several small fights since then, but I have no horse therefore know but little about how they came out.”


After encountering battles almost weekly from May to August, the regiment arrived at Washington, DC, in September 1862, and was attached to Burnside’s Corps to participate in his engagement in Maryland. After several skirmishes in that state, the cavalry fought at the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest single day of the war. Nearly 700 horses were lost in action or worn out in service by the end of 1862.


During a skirmish, Kennebunk native Joseph C. Hill, who previously acted as the town recruitment officer, was captured with others in his company. As he sat in the prisoner transport wagon, Hill rummaged through the items in the wagon; he found a revolver. He immediately shot the Confederate guard, recaptured his horse and those of his unit, and led them back behind Union lines.


By October 1864, the regiment was engaged in the actions at Gravelly Creek and Boydton Plank Road. The original members of the regiment whose term of service expired November 4th, 1864, were mustered out.


1st ME Cavalry Engagements:


  • Middleton, VA May 24, 1862
  • Winchester, VA May 25, 1862
  • Luray, VA June 1862
  • Cedar Mountain VA August 9, 1862
  • Brandy Station, VA August 20, 1862
  • Warrenton, VA August 22, 1862
  • Rappahannock Station, VA August 24, 1862
  • Thoroughfare Gap, VA August 28, 1862
  • 2nd Bull Run, VA August 28-29, 1862
  • Frederick, MD September 12, 1862
  • South Mountain, MD September 13-14, 1862
  • Antietam, MD September 17, 1862
  • Fredericksburg, VA December 12-13, 1862
  • Dumfries, VA December 28, 1862
  • Rappahannock Station, VA April 14, 1863
  • Louisa Court House, VA May 2, 1863
  • Stoneman’s Raid, VA May 5-7, 1863
  • Bealton, VA May 10, 1863
  • Brandy Station, VA June 9, 1863
  • Aldie, VA June 17, 1863
  • Middleburg, VA June 17, 1863*
  • Upperville, VA June 21, 1863*
  • near Aldie, VA June 22, 1863
  • Gettysburg, PA July 2-3, 1863*
  • Halltown, WV July 15, 1863
  • Shepardstown, WV July 16, 1863*
  • Sulphur Springs, VA October 12, 1863*
  • Mine Run, VA November 30, 1863*
  • Fortifications of Richmond*
  • Dahlgren Raid, VA February 29 – March 2, 1864
  • Strasburg, VA May 1, 1864
  • Todd’s Tavern, VA May 8, 1864*
  • Beaver Dam Station, VA May 10, 1864
  • Ground Squirrel Bridge, VA May 11, 1864*
  • Sheridan’s Raid, VA
  • Hawe’s Shop, VA May 28, 1864*
  • Cold Harbor, VA June 2, 1864*
  • Trevillian Station, VA June 11, 1864*
  • St. Mary’s Church, VA June 24, 1864*
  • Malvern Hill, VA July 28-29, 1864
  • Berryville, VA August 14, 1864
  • White Tavern, VA August 15, 1864
  • Deep Bottom , VA August 16, 1864*
  • Charles City Crossroads, VA August 18, 1864
  • Reams Station, VA August 23-25, 1864*
  • Stony Creek, VA September 16, 1864
  • Wyatt Farm, VA September 29, 1864*
  • Vaughan Road, VA October 1, 1864
  • Boydton Plank Road, VA October 27, 1864*
  • Bellefield, VA December 10, 1864*
  • Hatcher’s Run, VA February 5, 1865
  • Dinwiddie Court House, VA March 31, 1865
  • Fame’s Crossroads, VA April 5, 1865
  • Lee’s Train, VA April 6, 1865
  • Sailor’s Creek, VA April 6, 1865
  • Farmville, VA April 7, 1865
  • Appomattox Court House, VA April 9, 1865


Goodwin and Shorey:

 Charles C. Goodwin and Henry P. Shorey were both members of the 1st Maine Cavalry; Goodwin in Co. I, and Shorey in Co. M. Goodwin was born June 28, 1839 in Wells, Maine. Henry P. Shorey was born in c. 1836 in Kennebunk. In the Museum records, both are listed as having a wife named “Harriet Shorey.”

 As a farmer, Goodwin enlisted in the First Maine Cavalry on October 21, 1861, and mustered in 10 days later as a private. He was unmarried at the time. He was promoted to corporal March 1, 1862, and was an orderly for General Porter until the Second Battle of Bull Run, when he reported to General Pope.

 On September 14, 1862, Goodwin was the bearer of dispatches to General Reno at the battle of South Mountain; he was talking with Reno when the latter was killed on his horse. Goodwin led the horse, with the dead General, through the fight to the woods. Later, Goodwin was an orderly for General Burnside at the Battle of Antietam, and had his horse shot out from under him in the charge across the stone bridge. He was promoted to sergeant on March 3, 1863, and was put in charge of dismounted men during the Shenandoah Valley campaign.

 On January 26, 1864, Shorey mustered in as a private. He left his wife, Harriet, and their four children, near Kennebunk. Shorey joined the company on February 27th. That day, he was probably one of 300 men that reported to General Kilpatrick for duty in the expedition to Richmond, which later failed. Charles Goodwin was taken prisoner at Snickers Ferry on July 23, 1864 and sent to Winchester Prison, from which he escaped six days later. Shorey, who continued to fight with the regiment, was wounded in the fight at Boydton Plank Road on October 27th, and taken prisoner there. He was sent to Libby Prison, famous for its reputation of harsh conditions (like Andersonville). Believing that Shorey had died during the battle, the Union sent word to his wife that he had been killed.

 In November, Andrew Walker noted that Harriet Shorey received a letter from her believed-to-be-dead husband, writing from prison. Overjoyed by the news of his survival, she was devastated again less than a month later when Henry Shorey died of his wounds in Libby Prison on December 7, 1864 at 29 years of age. Charles Goodwin mustered out of the 1st Maine Cavalry on November 25, 1864; as an original member of the regiment, his term of service had expired. Goodwin returned to Wells and soon moved to Kennebunk, where he married the widow Harriet Shorey sometime in 1865.

Libby Prison:


Libby Prison consisted of three tenement buildings, each four stories high. Captain Luther Libby, originally from Maine, used the warehouse buildings as a ship’s chandlery. The Confederacy, in need of a prison, gave Libby 48 hours to leave the premises, and then converted the building to its new use so quickly that Libby’s sign was never removed; thus the name Libby Prison.


– More than 50,000 prisoners passed through this Confederate prison

–  The capacity of the prison was reported to be 1,200 men, but the number was most likely exceeded.

– The lack of sanitation and overcrowding caused rampant and widespread disease

– Death rates for prisoners were especially high during 1863 and 1864 because of food and supply shortages

– The windows were barred but open to the elements, increasing the discomfort of the prisoners

– Prisoners brought in from battles were often left for days half clothed, starving, and without any medical attention

– The bodies of the men that died in Libby Prison were relocated to Richmond National Cemetery after the war. Sadly, over 88% of the graves represent unknown soldiers.




The 8th Regiment left the state on September 10, 1861, and in the following month sailed from Annapolis with General Sherman’s expedition to Port Royal, South Carolina. Father and son Charles and Charles H. Nason, brothers Jesse and Charles Webster, and Plummer Adjutant, son of the 27th Regiment’s George Adjutant, were some of the many men that joined the regiment from Kennebunk. During their service, soldiers took part in the battle at Fort Pulaski, Georgia, and the occupation of Jacksonville, Florida. Most of their time was spent in garrison duty at Hilton Head, South Carolina.


New recruits and conscripts kept the regiment numbers at their maximum even though the loss from disease had been very large. At least two men from Kennebunk died of disease in the 8th Regiment: Washington Emerson died of consumption in Port Royal, South Carolina in December 1863 at age 42, and William Clark suffered from chronic diarrhea before dying on October 20, 1864 at age 20.


In March 1864, 330 men and 16 officers re-enlisted, and were given a thirty day furlough to travel home. On March 26, while home on furlough, Kennebunk soldier Alvah Rideout spoke to Andrew Walker about the state of the war, saying: “When I enlisted I enlisted from patriotic motive as did many others, but now Patriotism is all played out. Now a soldier out South would be laughed at if he should say he enlisted from Patriotism. That day has gone by.” Upon the soldiers’ return, the regiment moved northward to the battle zone in the mid-Atlantic states. In July, Alvah Rideout was reported missing after a skirmish in Petersburg. He died at a Florence, South Carolina prison on November 15, 1864.


In less than a year, the regiment saw so many men killed that it won its place in the “300 Fighting Regiments,” a list of those who sustained the heaviest losses in battle. For example, at Drury’s Bluff, the 8th Regiment lost almost a quarter of the men engaged. Four days later, a detachment of 190 men suffered 83 casualties. At Cold Harbor, the regiment lost nearly a third. Veterans of the regiment were mustered out in September 1864. The remaining men were present at Appomattox, and after the war was over they remained in Virginia until the 8th Regiment’s term expired in January 1866.


The regiment lost a total of 381 men during service. Killed or mortally wounded: 6 officers, 128 enlisted. Died of disease: 4 officers, 243 enlisted.

 [ interactive map: click on each area to learn more about the engagements]

8th ME Engagements:


  • Fort Pulaski, GA – April 10-11, 1862
  • Jacksonville, FL – March 23-31, 1863
  • Drury’s Bluff, VA – May 4-16, 1864
  • Ware Bottom Church, VA – May 9-20, 1864 (Petersburg Campaign)
  • Cold Harbor, VA – may 31-June 12, 1864 (Petersburg Campaign)
  • Petersburg, VA – July 30, 1864 (Petersburg Campaign)
  • Chaffins Farm, VA – September 28-30, 1864 (Petersburg Campaign)
  • Fort Gregg, VA – April 2, 1865 (Appomattox Campaign)
  • Fort Baldwin, VA – April 2, 1865 (Appomattox Campaign)
  • Rices Station, VA – April 6, 1865 (Appomattox Campaign)
  • Appomattox, VA – April 9, 1865


Cyrus B. Goff: Born about 1833 in Massachusetts. He enlisted at age 26 on August 15, 1862, as a private in Company F, 8th Maine Infantry. He volunteered for service with his brothers-in-law, Albert and William Junkins. Each received the $150 bounty for volunteering, plus $100 each from William Lord for being among the first ten men to sign up. William Junkins later died of heart disease, three months before his discharge from the army. Goff was taken prisoner with another soldier in his company, Edmund Vaughan, at the battle of Fair Oakes, Virginia, on October 27, 1864. He remained in Libby Prison until his parole on February 28, 1865. Edmund Vaughan was moved to Andersonville Prison, where died at 21 years of age. Vaughan was the grandson of Benjamin Brown, a wealthy merchant of Kennebunk in the late 18th Century. After mustering out in July 1865, Goff worked as a laborer.


Reverend Charles Nason: Not able to obtain an appointment as Army Chaplain, Charles Nason enlisted as an infantryman on August 15, 1862 in Company S. During his last sermon at the Methodist Church on August 20, people crowded into the building to hear him speak about the present state of the country, and his opinions on the causes of the war – “wickedness of the nation and slavery.” He told the crowd that he had enlisted because he thought it was his duty to do so, and that he could do more good in the army than he could by staying home. Nason’s 18 year old son, Charles H., enlisted in the same company with his father. In November, Charles H. was transferred from volunteer service to the 12th  Regiment U.S. Regular Infantry. His father resigned from service in July 1863 and returned to Maine. Four months later, Charles H. was taken prisoner near Culpepper, Virginia in November 1863. In response, his father rejoined the army as a chaplain of the 2nd Maine Cavalry in December. Charles H. died in Andersonville Prison in March 1864 at the age of 20. His father resigned his commission in the 2nd Maine Cavalry in March 1865.




The 27th Maine, in its majority, was made up of mostly York County volunteers. Kennebunk had obtained its quota of volunteers, so no draft was needed in the town. After inspection from Dr. Smith of Biddeford, every volunteer from Kennebunk reported to Camp Abraham Lincoln near Portland. After waiting for two weeks at Camp, the men were mustered into U.S. service on September 30.


[What happened?

Seth Bryant had left Portland to visit his home in Kennebunk. Arriving back at camp just in time to get ready, Captain Samuel Dana of the 17th Regiment mustered the men of the 27th into service. Bryant noted that “very few men were rejected by him,” only Kennebunker Augustus Brown for heart disease. “Captain Dana also insisted that one of my sergeants had no teeth, but I protested that as far as I knew they all had good teeth, and he let him pass.”]


The regiment departed from Portland on October 20, 1862, and Andrew Walker saw their train – so heavy with men and supplies it took two engines to pull it – pass through the Berwick Station: “While we were at the railroad junction at Berwick, the cars with 27th Maine Regiment puffed up on their way to the beat of war. This regiment is formed of men chiefly if not entirely from this County. The newspapers of the day say the regiment has 950 men including officers.”


As the train moved the troops south, they were met with celebrations throughout the east coast. At a stop in Philadelphia, Kennebunk soldier George Emerson wrote: “Our reception in Philadelphia will be of gratification to me for all time to come. They shook hands with us on every side, and the boys kissed, I daresay, hundreds of girls and I was not backward in doing my part I will tell you.” Twenty-five hours after leaving Portland, the troops set up their tents to the east of Capitol Hill.


James M. Stone of Kennebunk was chosen as Major. York County had originally requested that the Captain of the regiment be a “Kennebunk man,” and Seth Bryant – of this town – was selected as Captain. Other Kennebunkers in the regiment included brothers Charles and William Gooch and 54 year-old rock workman George Adjutant.


[Did You Know?

During the Civil War, infantrymen were issued uniforms by the Army; officers had to purchase their own. This practice continues today; the Army requires officers to purchase and maintain two sets of uniforms.]


[Object: James Stone commission paper]


Upon arrival in Washington on October 26, 1862, they were issued old-fashioned flintlocks, and they camped on Robert E. Lee’s ravaged estate (now the site of Arlington National Cemetery). With nothing to do but guard the area, Captain Bryant, Sergeant Isaac Emery, and others visited the Senate and Representatives Chambers, as well as the White House. By January 1863, the regiment was being slowly ravaged by typhoid and other diseases. Picket duty in snowy, frozen weather, which alternated with rain, heat, and wind made surviving a southern winter a struggle. Seth Bryant likened the snowstorms to dealing with Maine weather. Emerson’s three words, repeated several times throughout his diary, define the soldiers’ situation: “Cold and uncomfortable.”


[Object: Camp Seward 27th ME drawing]


The regiment remained in this location until mid-1863 to protect the capital, along with 80 other regiments to ensure the safety of the city. The men marched and performed drills at camp, and picketed near various locations around Washington and Arlington for the protection of the city. Camped just below General Robert E. Lee’s mansion, many of the 27th Regiment looked through his house and gardens, which were abandoned. Both George Emerson and Seth Bryant admitted to picking flowers from Lee’s gardens. The men watched as other regiments passed through to the front lines, but the 27th remained in Washington on guard duty.


[Object: Bryant’s revolver and sword]


October 24, 1862: “I looked for my revolver to show him and found that someone had stolen it out of my trunk. I am sorry, as it was a present from my friends in Kennebunk.”


The men waited to receive notice of their release as their nine months of service came to a close. Suddenly, new orders assigned the 27th Regiment to the Army of the Potomac to join the northward march to Gettysburg. As soon as the promise of battle came, however, the orders were countermanded on the eve of their march to Pennsylvania. The regiment returned to Arlington for transportation home and discharge from the service.


Yet the Battle of Gettysburg loomed, and the capital lacked troops for its defense and protection. President Lincoln and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton appealed to the 25th and 27th Maine Regiments to remain in the city, assigning Medals of Honor to all those that, “after the expiration of their term, offer their services to the Government in the present emergency.” The 25th opted to leave immediately. The 27th Regiment, however, discussed it further. Arguments erupted between those who wanted to stay, and others concerned for their families, properties at home, and the oncoming arrival of the haying season in Maine. The men stood in line, and those who chose to stay stepped forward. Captain Seth Bryant noted three-hundred and eleven men chose to reenlist. Secretary Stanton, thankful for the assistance during a crisis, promised Medals of Honor to these men. The rest of the regiment, nearly 550 men, began the journey home. Seth Bryant noted, “Those who remained were rather glad to get rid of them as there was so much talking and arguing as to make it very unpleasant.  The Secretary of War has requested the names of those who volunteered to stay and says they shall have Medals of Honor for so doing.”


                        MEDAL OF HONOR


Congress created the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration, in 1862. Since the value of the Medal had not been determined in the early years of its existence, soldiers of the Civil War frequently received these medals for routine activities, including bringing in wounded in non-combat areas, capturing enemy colors, and other duties. The 27th Regiment received the Medal for safeguarding Washington for four more days than their original volunteer enlistment.


In January 1865, a typographical error in record-keeping allowed the government to forward Medals of Honor to all 864 soldiers in the 27th Regiment. Colonel Wentworth of Kittery was to distribute them to the men; however, vandals stole several of them from Wentworth’s home before he had the chance. Theories of the medals’ whereabouts continue even today.


In 1917, a War Department board reviewed every medal awarded to ensure consistency in criteria. This resulted in the Purge of 1917, during which over 900 medals were struck from the official record, including those of the 27th Regiment. This enabled the Department of War to elevate the medal to the position it holds today. Unsurprisingly, very few of the medals were returned to the government.


After mustering out of service, many of the Kennebunk men in the 27th reenlisted in other regiments. Horace Taylor, George Wakefield, George Oakes, and William Moody, enlisted in the 2nd Maine Cavalry in the fall of 1863; Horace Burbank and Seth Bryant later joined the 32nd Regiment in 1864.


                        [Object: David Goodwin (20th ME) Discharge Papers]


Isaac H. Emery: Born in Biddeford about 1821, Emery enlisted at age 41 as a musician. Previously, Emery acted as the orderly sergeant in Kennebunk, creating the draft rolls of local citizens. While in the army, Emery wrote music for his regimental band as its leader. His wife, Sarah, wrote to him many times during his post in Washington.


                                    [Object: Sarah Emery’s letter to Isaac]


Between April 1861 and August 1862, hundreds of regimental bands mustered into service with volunteer regiments. Kennebunk men included Robert Junkins, Tristram Goodwin (both in the 1st Maine Cavalry), and George Downing (2nd Maine Regiment). These men were paid solely to provide military music, and considered non-combatants. However, by the end of 1861, the Union experienced a strain on its finances, and searched for ways to save its funding for the war. In July 1862, the War Department issued General Order No. 91, directing that all regimental bandsmen be mustered out of service within 30 days. Brigade bands took their place, made up of competent musicians within the ranks of soldiers.


[Object: Isaac Emery’s Cornet]

Seth E Bryant: Seth Bryant was born in Massachusetts in 1826. He moved to Kennebunk with his wife Mary, and worked as a customs officer. Bryant enlisted September 30, 1862 as a commissioned Captain in the 27th Maine, Company I, writing, “The President having made a call for 300,000 men to serve nine months in the army, I decided to be one of the number and enlisted at a meeting this evening.” They mustered out Nov. 24th 1862.


[Object: 27th ME returns sheet]


[On wall: List of men drafted in 1863, as listed in Andrew Walker’s diary (includes J.C. Lord, Tristram Goodwin, William Symonds, and 89 others)]                     

[Wall sign: “Veterans consider: You are liable to be drafted unless volunteers are secured, and the State’s quota filled!”]




The 32nd Maine Regiment was the last fully organized regiment of infantry raised in Maine during the war, recruited early in March 1864. It was hurriedly recruited, with six of the companies sent to war before the other four were raised. The infantry was immediately placed on active duty, and the 1st and 2nd battalions went under fire in less than 3 weeks after breaking camp in Maine. The majorities of Companies A, F, H, and K were made up of York County men.


[Object: Horace Burbank Captain of 32nd ME Commission]


[Interactive: Materials lists written by H. Burbank]


                        [Object: Invoice of stores written by Horace Burbank]


                        [Object: Materials expended in battle written by Burbank]


                        [Object: letter about loss of troops, written by Burbank]


Kennebunkers Seth Bryant and Horace Burbank, previously of the 27th Regiment, were named captains in the 32nd Regiment, of Company I and Company A respectively. Captain Bryant was discharged in November 1864 due to disability. Burbank was captured in the Battle of the Crater on July 30, 1864, and was sent to Richmond Jail. During his time there, he kept a diary, narrating his daily experiences of prison life. After six months of imprisonment, Burbank and several other officers and enlisted men escaped their captors, and returned to fight with the Union army as Sherman marched through Georgia.


[Did You Know?


After returning from the war, Horace Burbank used his Bowdoin College education to become a lawyer. He married Lizzie Thompson, daughter of Kennebunk’s Captain Nathaniel Lord Thompson. Lizzie’s sister, Ida, was the mother of Edith Barry, founder of the Brick Store Museum.]



[Read all about Horace Burbank’s experiences in Richmond Jail with the new e-book, “The Diary of Horace Burbank,” now published by the Brick Store Museum!]


[Did You Know?

The 32nd Regiment boasted the youngest soldier Maine furnished to the army. Edwin C. Milliken was only fourteen years old. He was from Old Orchard Beach.]


The regiment incurred devastating losses at its engagements at Spotsylvania, North Anna, and Cold Harbor – where they fought alongside the 1st Maine Cavalry and the 8th Maine Regiment. Taking part at the disaster of the Mine, it lost at least 102 men out of 150 engaged. Kennebunk received news of the deaths of some of their own citizens: Charles Hubbard, John Cluff, and Isaiah Upson all died in battle. As Lieutenant Silas Perkins of Kennebunkport lay in his tent, he was shot in his foot by the accidental discharge of a gun. Perkins was sent back to Maine due to his injuries; when he arrived in Boston, the smell of the wound was so offensive that he traveled in a small train car by himself. After arriving in Kennebunk, he lived for six days before dying of his wounds at the age of 23.

By December 1864, the regiment had sustained such heavy losses through battle and disease in its first months of fighting that it was amalgamated with the 31st Maine Regiment. Even the regiment’s surgeon, Dr. Clark Trafton of Kennebunk, died of typhoid fever on August 11, 1864.

 [interactive engagement map]

32nd ME Engagements:


  • May 5 – 7, 1864: Battle of the Wilderness
  • May 7 – 20, 1864: Spotsylvania, Virginia
  • May 23 – 27, 1864: North Anna River, Virginia
  • May 31 – June 12, 1864: Cold Harbor, Virginia
  • June 16, 1864: Siege of Petersburg, Virginia
  • July 30, 1864: Battle of the Crater, Petersburg, Virginia
  • August 18 – 21, 1864: Weldon Railroad, Virginia
  • September 30 – October 2, 1864: Poplar Spring, Virginia
  • December 8 – 9, 1864 Boydton Plank Road, Hatchers Run, Virginia              


[Object: Burbank’s muster-in roll]


[Object: Burbank bible purchased in prison]


                        [Object: Burbank photo album]


                        [Object: Burbank prison diary]



Andersonville Prison:


12,913 out of the approximately 45,000 Union prisoners died due to starvation, malnutrition, disease, and abuse from the guards. Conditions were filthy and the prison was often undersupplied with food.


The prison opened in February 1864 and covered 26.5 acres of land, enclosed by a 15-foot high stockade.


The water supply from the neighboring creek became contaminated when men were forced to wash themselves with the same water they drank.


In the summer of 1864 many were desperate to leave Andersonville, including the Confederate guards. They attempted to make deals with the Union army to send ships to retrieve both the prisoners and the guards. Many prisoners who were well enough to leave the prison were moved to Millen, Georgia and Florence, South Carolina because conditions were so poor.


After reading of the horrors of Andersonville in the newspaper, Kennebunker Andrew Walker wrote: “The Federal prisoners at Andersonville were buried in trenches about three hundred yards from the stockade.  The trenches varied in length from fifty to one hundred and fifty yards.  The bodies in the trenches were from two or three feet below surface.  So close were they buried without coffins, or the ordinary clothing to cover their nakedness, that not more than twelve inches were allowed to each man.”


Soldiers were most often buried where they fell on the battlefield. Captain Seth Bryant toured the Chantilly battlefield, and saw “graves of soldiers, or rather, places where the bodies were laid, and a little dirt thrown over them.” In some cases, so little dirt had been used that bones and pieces of clothing were plainly seen above the ground.




[Wall lettering: The State of Maine was second only to Massachusetts in the number of sailors that served in the Union Navy.]


A week after the outbreak of war at Fort Sumter, Lincoln declared a blockade of Southern ports stretching from South Carolina to Texas. The Union had a distinct advantage over the Confederacy on the seas, being far more equipped with ocean-going vessels and experienced mariners to power them. The blockade on shipping handicapped the South throughout the war.


[Wall quote: The Navy appears to be from subsequent observations a sort of nautical Potters Field where all sorts of used up old mariners are collected for final burial.” – Captain William Symonds, 1864


Many Kennebunk men enlisted in the Navy, including Joseph Brown, Greenleaf Hutchins, and Edward Thompson. Serving in a variety of capacities, many men rose through the ranks to become officers. John Clement Lord, an ensign, was appointed as a Navigator on the steamers Gettysburg and New Hampshire. Henry Curtis, also an ensign, was appointed to command the torpedo boat Gamma in the James River. Only after 1862 did the Union give credit to states’ quotas for those that served in the Navy; this helped Maine and other states to fill their quotas more easily. It is estimated that over 6,700 citizens of Maine enlisted in the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.


[Poster: 23 Gunboats ordered to be built by the U.S Government at the following places:

Baltimore 1, Wilmington 1, Philadelphia 3, New York 5, East Haddum, CT 1,  Mystic, CT 2, Portland, CT 1, Boston, MA 3, Newburyport, MA 1, Thomaston, ME 1, Belfast ME, 1 Portland, ME 1, Bath, ME 1 and Kennebunk, ME 1.]


In addition to furnishing men for naval warfare, Kennebunk also supplied a ship. The gunboat Aroostook was built by Captain Nathaniel Lord Thompson, and launched November 7, 1861 in Kennebunkport. A large number of people assembled to watch the ship begin its journey to war. It participated in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the taking of the James River, Drewry’s Bluff, and the Seven Days’ Campaign. In the summer of 1861, while patrolling the James River, the ship chanced upon a group of runaway slaves, and offered them refuge aboard the ship. After suffering a yellow fever outbreak on the ship in 1863 and becoming part of the West Gulf Blockade, the Aroostook was decommissioned in New York in September 1865 after the end of the Civil War.


                        [Object: Return of men from the Navy]        


John Clement Lord: Lord was commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy on June 22, 1864. On July 4, he left Kennebunk for war; Andrew Walker noted that he was “dressed in his new uniform to report for duty.  He is a large fine looking man.” He was appointed Sailing Master on board the steamer Yantic, and afterwards named a Navigator and Ordinance Officer on the steamers Gettysburg and New Hampshire. Lord took part in the assault of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, a Confederate port that protected trade routes, on January 15, 1865. During the bombardment by 56 Union ships upon the fort, Lord found a rifle used in the ground assault, and brought it back to Kennebunk after the war.


                        [Object: Fort Fisher rifle]


Adam McCulloch, Jr.: McCulloch served in three branches of the Union military during his time with the service. He originally enlisted in the 27th Regiment, guarding the nation’s capitol until after the Battle of Gettysburg, and earning a Medal of Honor with his compatriots. Five months after returning home, he joined the 2nd Maine Cavalry, mustering in on December 24, 1863. On June 30, 1864, McCulloch was then transferred to the Navy, serving as quarter-master on board the sloop-of-war Lackawanna. McCullloch never returned to Kennebunk. He died of chronic diarrhea at Fort Barrancas, Florida, on December 31, 1864 at age 34.


William Symonds: Symonds, born in 1832, joined the war effort as an Ensign in the Navy in 1864. Aboard the ship Savannah, he wrote, “And so I left the things of the past and commenced on a new system called Red Tape.” Reaching Pensacola, Florida, the Savannah commenced its duty as part of the Gulf blockade. Sailing up the Mississippi River, Symonds was transferred to the 500-ton gunboat Pinola to become Sailing Master.


During his journey, Symonds kept a journal, now in the collections of the Museum. In his notes, he describes everyday life aboard a naval warship, which was often “boring” and tedious. “This sample of a day’s work will suffice to illustrate the whole program for the month of my stay,” he wrote.


            [Partial schedule of the day:


            4:00am – wash clothes and hammocks

            4:30am – call ship’s cooks

            6:00am – call boatswain’s mates, officers of the gun

            6:15am – call all hands

            6:30am – wash decks, scrub closets

            7:00am – dispatch first boat, and every 15 minutes afterward

            8:00am – Breakfast of harsh meal for one hour]


While on the Pinola, Symonds took part in the Battle of Mobile Bay, which he described in detail in his journal. He was also able to observe the Union’s command of New Orleans as the boat sailed up river.


Symonds resigned his position due to ill health on June 20, 1865. Nine years after the war, on October 14, 1874, he and family were lost at sea when their ship, the Kingsbridge,collided with the ship Candahar in the British Channel.


            An incident reported by Symonds:


Outside – the Pembina and Sebago were blazing away with an insane idea that they could throw shot five miles. The little boat Phillippi, too, got bewildered and must have run amuck. Over the side went commander and men.


WOMEN’S ROLES in Kennebunk


In July 1861, women met in the Town Hall to make loose cotton clothing suitable for sick and wounded soldiers, three months before a national appeal to women from the U.S. Sanitary Commission to volunteer their time to the war. A small group – made up of mostly women – gathered in October to decide on the provision of means “to enable the ladies to carry out their humane and patriotic designs on behalf of our sick and disabled soldiers.” The committee resolved that the sum of $500 was to be raised by subscription and “placed at the disposal” of the Ladies of Kennebunk. Materials for clothing and other articles for the benefit of the sick and wounded would be purchased and made by these women.


Twelve women were selected to purchase the material and prepare the work, with Mrs. Joseph Dane, Jr., appointed chair of the group:

Mrs. Robert Smith

Mrs. Sarah Perkins

Mrs. Susan Wason

Miss Lydia Wells

Miss Lydia Currier

Miss Alice Carter

Mrs. Sarah Samuel Kimball

Mrs. George Williams

Mrs. Joseph Titcomb

Mrs. Caroline Cousins

Mrs. Thomas McCullock

Mrs. Elizabeth Hilton


Over several months, hundreds of area women attended morning and evening meetings to receive materials and instructions on what items were in the greatest demand for Maine soldiers. As is shown in the carefully recorded minutes of the Ladies Aid Society (other names used were Soldiers Relief Society and Women’s Relief Corps), articles produced included socks, handkerchiefs, blankets, and quilts inscribed with biblical scripture.


[To be listed on wall: 51 pillows; 320 pillow cases; 228 sheets; 23 blankets; 53 quilts; 13 comforters; 178 hospital shirts; 115 pairs of drawers; 141 towels; 200 pairs of socks; 19 pairs of slippers; 250 pocket handkerchiefs; 8 bed socks; 19 cots; 50 pin-balls; 18 pairs felt soles; 1 pair knitted gloves; 100 bags containing thread, needles, tape, etc.; 2 tin wash basins; 6 table spoons; 16 teaspoons; 22 testaments; 1 hymn book; bundles of books; lot of cotton and linen bandages.]



[Object: Ladies’ Aid Society Minutes] On April 2, 1862, the Ladies entered their last set of minutes as the call for aid had diminished, and the following entry was made by E.W. Hatch, Secretary of the Soldiers Relief Society:

“Should the coming weeks still bring to our ears the cry for aid, we believe that the generous hands which have hitherto supplied us with means, will be again extended to enable us to resume our labors for the great need of our countrymen.”


 [Interactive on women’s clothing similar to the interactive about a soldier’s uniform]

As predicted, the need continued as did the war. Three months after the cease in aid, Edward Emerson Bourne wrote about his wife, “in forenoon at work for soldiers at Mr. Swan’s.” The Ladies never stopped making items. Sewing kits, powder pouches, shirts, and any other item requested from the field was proudly produced by the women at home. All accounts report that the number of items sent to the men in the field from their home state, family, and loved ones, was of such great magnitude that it took a large effort to distribute the items to the men.

In December 1863, at the request of the Sanitary Commission, Kennebunkers sent about $300 worth of money and vegetables to soldiers in the South via the Kennebunk Depot in West Kennebunk. The vegetables (or money to purchase vegetables) were collected at Town Hall, mostly donated by area farmers.


The Union & Journal, Biddeford, December 26, 1863: “The ladies of Kennebunk have been actively engaged since early in the commencement of the war, in furnishing articles of comfort to the sick and wounded soldiers. Their organization is the Soldiers’ Relief Society, Mrs. E.E. Bourne is president. They meet at least once a week (usually on Wednesday afternoons).” In 1863 alone, the society collected over $1200 in donations from the community to help their actions. Today, that would total almost $33,000.


As the war continued and more and more men left for battle, young women in the town became concerned with what their futures might hold. In 1864, Andrew Walker described the conversation he heard between his wife and another young woman: “A young unmarried, but marriageable lady of this village, while in conversation with my wife a few days since, remarked, ‘If the war continues much longer what will become of most of us girls?  Where shall we find husbands?  What will people do for babies?’” The war left the male population so decimated that Americans saw the effects on population growth for several years afterward.