DEDICATION OF MAINE’S MONUMENTS AT GETTYSBURG
ERECTED BY THE STATE OF MAINE ON THE BATTLEFIELD OF GETTYSBURG
OCTOBER 3, 1889
By all accounts October 3, 1889, was a beautiful fall day at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. On that day, hundreds of Maine veterans, from privates to major generals, were again on the battlefield. It was reported that many veterans recounted the moments that had been etched in their memories, but it is likely that others simply pondered, in quiet reflection, the life-altering events that had occurred there more than twenty-six years earlier. What brought the Mainers to Gettysburg on that occasion was the formal dedication of the monuments erected by the State of Maine saluting Maine’s contributions and sacrifice during what was arguably the Civil War’s preeminent battle.
Following a national salute fired at 9:00 a.m. from Cemetery Hill, much of the day was dedicated to an “inspection of the Maine Monuments by the Governor of Maine [Edwin C. Burleigh], the Maine Gettysburg Commissioners, accompanied by the Hon. Hannibal Hamlin and other members of the Maine party. Regimental reunions and dedicatory exercises at the different Monuments on the visit of the carriage party.”1 In a lengthy special supplement to the October 9, 1889, edition, the Portland Daily Press reported extensively on the events of the day. The Portland Daily Press supplement included detailed descriptions of many of the monuments, regimental histories, and the text of several addresses by regimental officers. According to the newspaper: “The Maine party, to the number of two or three hundred, started out by carriages very early this morning to visit the Maine Monuments. Governor Burleigh and General Charles Hamlin rode in the first carriage, members of the staff followed, and then came Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, Major S. W. Thaxter, General Seldon Connor, members of the Commission, Colonels of Maine regiments, and other veterans and visitors.”2 The delegation visited many of the Maine monuments including those of the Second Maine [Hall’s] Battery; the Sixteenth Maine Infantry; a marker on Seminary Ridge that identified the location of the Fifth Maine [Stevens’] Battery on the first day of the battle; the First Maine Cavalry [several miles out of town on the Hanover Road]; the Third Maine Infantry; the Seventeenth Maine Infantry; and the Fourth Maine Infantry.3
After a stop for lunch, the delegation visited the Twentieth Maine Infantry monument on Little Round Top where “the survivors of that regiment are to hold their reunion there, and at their
other position on Round Top proper. . . . . Mayor [of Portland, Maine] H. S. Melcher, as president of the Twentieth Maine, called the assembled veterans and friends together on Little Round top first, who there listened to a long and critically prepared article on the battle on this spot, written by Howard L. Prince, of Washington, D. C., a veteran of the regiment.”4 Following Prince’s address, General Chamberlain recounted the fight for Little Round Top from his perspective.
The text of General Chamberlain’s remarks at the monument can be accessed at:
The delegation then proceeded to a second Twentieth Maine Infantry monument located on Big Round Top. Most of us are probably familiar with the 20th Maine monument located on Little Round Top, but the other 20th Maine monument is perhaps less familiar. Lieutenant Samuel L. Miller gave an address there, after which General Chamberlain again addressed the gathering.
The tour of the Maine monuments then continued to the monuments memorializing the Sixth Maine Infantry; the Fifth Maine Infantry; Dow’s Battery; the Nineteenth Maine Infantry; the Fifth Maine [Stevens’] Battery; and the Seventh Maine Infantry. The Portland Daily Press supplement noted that components of the Tenth Maine Battalion made up the headquarters guard [actually as Provost Guard, Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum’s XII Corps] during the battle and that the Maine component of Berdan’s Sharpshooters [2nd Brigade, 1st Division, III Corps] had also been memorialized. Unfortunately, despite traversing “thirty or forty miles” during the day, the delegation was not able to visit all the Maine monuments.5
The formal dedication exercises were held on the evening of October 3 at the Adams County Courthouse. Our round table’s namesake, General Joshua Chamberlain served as “president of the day” and was first to address the audience. After a prayer by 20th Maine veteran Rev. Theodore Gerrish, General Charles Hamlin gave a short address, thereby fulfilling the ceremonial duty of presenting the monuments from the Maine Gettysburg Commission to the Governor of Maine. In a subsequent short address, Maine Governor Edwin Burleigh presented the Maine monuments to the Gettysburg Battlefield Memorial Association, which were in turn accepted by Major John M. Krauth, representing Pennsylvania Governor James Beaver. The final oration was given by General and former Maine Governor Seldon Connor, followed by a prayer and benediction by Rev. G. R. Palmer, formerly of the 19th Maine Infantry Regiment.6
- Executive Committee, Maine at Gettysburg: Report of Maine Commissioners (Portland, ME: Lakeside Press, 1898), 545, https://archive.org/details/maineatgettysbur01main.
- “Maine at Gettysburg,” Portland Daily Press, October 9, 1889 – Supplement, 5. (Accessed from Newspapers.com, a subscription service.)
- “Maine at Gettysburg,” Portland Daily Press, October 9, 1889 – Supplement, 5 – 6. The bracketed clarifications were derived from “Organization of the Army of the Potomac, Maj. Gen. George G. Meade, U. S. Army Commanding, at the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863;” United States, War Dept., The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies [Series 1, Vol. 27, Ch. 39, Pt. 1] (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1889), 155-168, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924077699761&view=1up&seq=175.
- Maine Commissioners, Maine at Gettysburg, 545 – 581.
Editor’s note and acknowledgements: As you can see from the endnotes, this summary of the dedication of the Maine monuments on October 3, 1889, was drawn from Maine Commissioners, Maine at Gettysburg: Report of Maine Commissioners (Portland, ME: Lakeside Press, 1898) and “Maine at Gettysburg,” an October 9, 1889, supplement to the Portland Daily Press. Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies and various reports of the Maine Adjutant General were utilized for fact checking. Maine at Gettysburg is an invaluable resource, which includes photos of the monuments. The dedication of the Maine monuments was widely publicized in the media. I am particularly grateful to Jason Martz, Communications Specialist, Gettysburg National Military Park & Eisenhower National Historic Site, who provided a series of photos of the 20th Maine Monument located on Big Round Top.
Phil Schlegel, Editor
Welcome to the 2023 – 2024 Chamberlain CWRT program season! Our website evolved from the previous First Call newsletter and was rolled out in November 2019. Since then, we’ve continued to consider many of the battles and the soldiers who fought them, but we have also endeavored to touch on subjects that impacted the day-to-day lives of people living in a nation at war. Among them have been the draft, the issuance of paper money and various coinage, the implementation of a national income tax, the Homestead Act, rapidly expanding telegraph services, inventions, medical innovations, journalists and artists, home front activities, the frontline and hospital service of nurses, and various aspects of the U.S. Sanitary and Christian Commissions.
CIVIL WAR POSTAL SERVICE
While considering topics for the “Civil War History” feature of our website for the 2023 – 2024 season, I came across an article published by the United States Postal Service entitled “Mail
Service and the Civil War.” It is a fascinating story of the significance of postal activities that provides a brief description of Union and Confederate postal practices, letters crossing enemy lines, postal rates, the use of postage stamps as currency, and related subjects.
The USPS article is copied below, highlighted in blue, for your enjoyment and edification. To augment the commentary of the USPS article, I have taken the liberty of collecting and embedding illustrations of some of the subjects that the [unnamed] author discusses in the article. I hope that you enjoy the USPS article and the added illustrations as much as I enjoyed putting it together!
Mail Service and the Civil War
(Text as published in about.usps.com.)
Mail was a treasured link between Civil War camps and battlefields and “back home.” Recognizing its importance to morale, the armies assigned personnel to collect, distribute, and deliver soldiers’ mail; wagons and tents served as traveling Post Offices. Some soldiers wrote home weekly; some seemed to spend all their free time writing. A letter from home could be tucked into a pocket close to a soldier’s heart, to be read and re-read in moments of loneliness. Many soldiers carried letters in their pockets, to be forwarded to loved ones if they were killed in action.
The U.S. Post Office Department introduced several improvements during the war which made it easier to send and receive mail. Since soldiers sometimes had trouble acquiring postage stamps.
If they did get them, they had trouble keeping the gummed bits of paper from congealing into sodden lumps. Soldiers were allowed to mail letters without stamps beginning in July 1861 by writing “Soldier’s Letter” on the envelope; postage was collected from the recipient. In July 1863, postage rates were simplified and in some cases lowered when distance-based letter rate categories were eliminated and all letters given the lowest rate. That same month, free home delivery of mail was introduced in the nation’s largest cities. And in November 1864 the money order system began, making it safer for soldiers and citizens to send money through the mail.
The Confederacy established its own Post Office Department in February 1861, two months before the start of the war, with former U.S. Congressman John Henninger Reagan appointed Postmaster General in March. Reagan sent job offers to southern men in the Post Office Department in Washington; many accepted and brought along their expertise, as well as copies of postal reports, forms in use, postal maps, and other supplies. Prior to the war the cost of mail service in the South was more than three times its revenue. By raising postage rates, reducing service, and practicing strict economy, Reagan made the Confederate Post Office Department self-sustaining by the end of 1863. But blockades and the invading Northern army, as well as a scarcity of postage stamps, severely hampered operations.
The United States banned the exchange of mail between citizens of the North and South in August 1861, although smugglers often carried mail illegally across the lines. Prisoner-of-war mail was exchanged between North and South at designated points under a flag-of-truce. Citizens could also send letters via the flag-of-truce system, although like prisoners’ mail, their letters were read by censors and rejected if the contents were objectionable.
Stamps and the Civil War
In 1861, the cost of mailing a half-ounce letter up to 3,000 miles by the U.S. Post Office Department was 3 cents (77 cents in 2011 dollars). On June 1, 1861, the Confederate Post Office began charging 5 cents ($1.30 in 2011 dollars) for mailing half-ounce letters up to 500 miles.
To prevent the fraudulent use of the large quantity of U.S. postage stamps held by postmasters in the seceded states, the U.S. Post Office Department redesigned its postage stamps soon after it suspended mail service to the South. The newly designed stamps were distributed to postmasters and customers beginning in August 1861, in exchange for the old ones. Initially Postmasters were instructed to give customers six days following notification in which to exchange old stamps for new ones, after which time the old ones were demonetized (rendered valueless). But the time limit was stretched in some cases to accommodate customers. In New York City, citizens were given about six weeks to exchange their postage stamps.
As the war progressed, coins, which were more highly valued than paper money, gradually disappeared from the marketplace. By the summer of 1862, the lack of coinage posed a serious hardship to trade. Merchants began issuing their own promissory notes, called “shinplasters,” and many people began using postage stamps as small change. Unfortunately, shinplasters were often redeemable only where received, and stamps were liable to crumple and clump together.
A law of July 17, 1862, authorized the use of postage stamps as currency, and beginning in August 1862 the Treasury Department issued special “postage currency” — reproductions of postage stamps on larger, thicker, ungummed pieces of paper, in denominations of 5, 10, 25, and 50 cents. Due to coin shortages the Treasury Department continued issuing paper notes representing fractions of a dollar through 1876, although beginning in October 1863 they were called “fractional currency” and did not feature reproductions of stamps.1
Examples of Civil War-era mail abound. Whether letters were sent on their way in plain envelopes, homemade envelopes, or in envelopes adorned with graphics, it was the contents of those envelopes that touched the lives of the recipients at home, in camp, on the march, at the battlefront, at sea, or in the hospital. In addition, the business of the country continued on with the often unsung work of the postal service. In closing, I was left to wonder if Sergeant James Reid ever received his letter. The sender thought Sergeant Reid was in Washington, D.C. but, like so many soldiers before and since the Civil War, he really could have been anywhere! Hopefully, the postal service was able to sort it out.
- United States Postal Service, “Mail Service and the Civil War,” https://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2012/pr12_civil-war-mail-history.pdf
Figure 1. Army Mail leaving Hd.Qts. Post Office. Army Potomac. Alfred R. Waud Artist, ca. March 1863. Morgan collection of Civil War drawings (Library of Congress). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-21422.
Figure 2. Postmaster General Montgomery Blair. Brady’s National Photographic Portrait Galleries, photographer. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-79544. (Cropped for presentation.)
Figure 3. Mail wagon of 2d Army Corps. Anthony-Taylor-Rand-Ordway-Eaton Collection and Selected Civil War Photographs. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Civil War Photographs, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-34235. (Cropped for presentation.)
Figure 4. Civil War envelope [“Soldiers Letter”]. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-34624.
Figure 5. Portrait of Postmaster-general John H. Re[a]gan, officer of the Confederate States Government. Anthony-Taylor-Rand-Ordway-Eaton Collection and Selected Civil War Photographs. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Civil War Photographs, reproduction number LC-DIG-cwpb-06039. (Cropped for presentation.)
Figure 6. Envelope addressed to Genl. Henry A. Wise, Roanoke Island, N. Carolina. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-33547.
Figure 7. Envelope addressed to Brig. Gen. Taliaferro, Commanding Forces on James Island, Charleston, S.C.; postmarked Charleston, S.C. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-33543.
Figure 8. Civil War envelope showing Confederate stars and bars flag over cannon with patriotic verse. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-64825.
Figure 9. Civil War envelope showing Confederate stars and bars flag flying over tent. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-64827.
Figure 10. Civil War envelope showing 34-star American flag. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-31962.
Figure 11. Civil War envelope showing eagle holding American flags above naval instruments. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-34710.
Figure 12. Civil War envelope showing portrait of Maj. Gen. U.S. Grant. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-31702.
Figure 13. Civil War envelope showing three Zouave soldiers with rifles, swords, and an American flag. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-52008.
Figure 14. Civil War envelope showing flotilla of gunboats engaged in battle on the Mississippi River at Fort Wright, Tennessee. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-31961.
Figure 15. Civil War envelope with message “Soldier’s letter” from Cuyler U.S. Army Hospital, Germantown, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, signed by L. Ward Smith, Hospital Chaplain. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-31716.
Figure 16. Civil War envelope showing Columbia with American flag and sword. Liljenquist Family Collection of Civil War Photographs (Library of Congress). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-31720.
Figure 17. Danl Webster army mail boat on James river. Alfred R. Waud, artist. Morgan collection of Civil War drawings (Library of Congress). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, reproduction number LC-DIG-ppmsca-21221.
Phil Schlegel, Editor