At the round table meeting held on November 10, 2022, the half of our audience who represented the cavalry … known far and wide as “Team Custer” … faced off against the other half of the audience who represented the infantry … being the much celebrated and esteemed “Team Thomas” … for the Second Joshua L. Chamberlain Round Table Challenge. After a spirited exchange of good-natured competition, the cavalry prevailed and walked away as the Second Challenge champions. The Challenge was hosted by Phil Schlegel, with Linda Schlegel ably attempting to keep the melee on track. The two teams were inspired by Mike Bell’s team caricatures … striving to do them proud. A good time was had by all, and we look forward to the Third Challenge next season.
During November we celebrate Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. Each of these holidays has its own antecedents, but each also provides an opportunity for the nation to pause and give thanks. In that spirit, it is noteworthy that on November 7, 1947, Maine’s last Civil War veteran, Zachary T. McLaughlin, passed away at his son’s home in Turner. McLaughlin was 98 years old at the time of his passing.1 McLaughlin was an eighteen-year-old farmer from Weld when he was mustered into service as a private, Company F, 12th Maine Infantry, on February 23, 1865. He was mustered out and honorably discharged on August 14, 1865.2
Being Maine’s last Civil War veteran, McLaughlin’s death was widely reported. The Boston Globe reported that “. . . his keenest recollection of the war was a speech he heard President Lincoln deliver. ‘It was a good one,’ McLaughlin said.”3
- “Maine’s Last Civil War Veteran Dies at Turner,” Lewiston Evening Journal, November 7, 1947, 1.
- “Maine, State Archive Collections, 1718-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:246J-BGK : 4 March 2021), Zachary T Mclaughlin, 09 Feb 1865; citing Military Service, , State Archives, Augusta.
- “Zachary McLaughlin,” Boston Globe, November 7, 1947, 17. [Accessed through Newspapers.com, a subscription service.]
On October 13 the Chamberlain Civil War Round Table enjoyed Peter Vermilyea’s compelling presentation examining “The Pipe Creek Effect: How Meade’s Contingency Plan Impacted the Battle of Gettysburg.” Peter ably pointed out many interesting nuances associated with General George Meade’s Pipe Creek Circular in a presentation that was both informative and thought provoking.
On September 8th . . . Joshua Chamberlain’s 194th birthday . . . the 2022-2023 program season got off to a great start at the Morrell Room, Curtis Memorial Library! It was good to see a lot of old and new round table friends after what we hope was an enjoyable summer. Historian Victor Vignola treated us to a lively and informative program addressing the battles at Seven Pines and Fair Oaks (May 31 – June 1, 1862) with a view toward the “contrasts of command” that the battles revealed. Victor’s presentation was very well received, he fielded a lot of questions, and we can look forward to his book on the same subject that is due to be published in 2023.
Dan Cunningham receives Joshua L. Chamberlain Civil War Round Table Warren Randall Award
Dan joined our round table in October 1994 after a trip, sponsored by the Pejepscot Historical Society, that followed the Civil War career of Joshua Chamberlain. Dan recalled that it was an exciting and vibrant time for the CWRT. There were over 250 members and the founder of the round table, Warren Randall, was still a very active board member. He had many contacts and brought in nationally known speakers such as Ed Bearss, James M. McPherson, and James (Bud) Robertson, as well as local speakers like John Pullen.
In 2002 Dan first served on the Board of Trustees and began helping with the book raffle with his very good friend, Dick Thompson. After serving two terms as vice-president, Dan became president of the JLC CWRT in 2010. He served for two years and then stayed on the Board of Trustees.
In 2016 several board positions became vacant, so Dan agreed to become president again if we could fill the open board positions. He served two more years as president, after which he remained in contact with the board, always offering to help in any way he could. In 2021 Dan again stepped up and agreed to serve as treasurer for the following year.
When asked to comment on receiving the Chamberlain Round Table’s award Dan was his usual friendly, unassuming self: “Serving on the Board of Trustees over the last 20 years has been a wonderful experience where I have learned more than I could ever have imagined and met numerous people, many of which I count as good friends. To be a recipient of the Warren Randall Award is a tremendous honor and I would like to thank the Board of Trustees and the members for all the support and help you’ve given me over the years. Without all of you there is no way that we could have continued to have the Joshua L. Chamberlain CWRT.”
Many, many thanks to Dan Cunningham for his many years of service to our round table. The award certainly is well deserved. We look forward to seeing again Dan and Lucy as we embark on the 2022 – 2023 program season.
Note: For many years Dan was a Civil War reenactor (3rd Maine Infantry) and Civil War service is in Dan’s blood. The soldier seen in the picture is Dan’s great grandfather, Andrew Rollins Brackett. Brackett’s granddaughter, Dan’s mother, is also seen. Dan’s great-great-uncle, Alesto Brackett, was a Civil War navy veteran.