Flag of the 2nd Maine Infantry

1 03 2023

The Flag of the Second Maine Regiment*, captured on the Plains of Manassas at the great battle by the Palmetto Guard*, which was exhibited for some days at the Mercury office, and which has been in the possession of Capt. P. B. Lalane for some weeks past, has been demanded from Col. Kershaw by Gen. Beauregard. A formal requisition for the flag was, in consequence, made to Capt. Lalane, who complied by sending it to Virginia on Thursday, by the Southern Express.

Charleston (SC) Mercury, 9/20/1861

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*The Palmetto Guards were Co. I, 2nd SC Infantry (Col. Kershaw). The 2nd SC engaged O. O. Howard’s brigade on Chinn Ridge. The 2nd ME was part of Keyes’s brigade, which did not engage the 2nd SC. If a Maine flag was captured by the 2nd SC during the fighting, it was likely one of either the 3rd, 4th or 5th ME of Howard’s Brigade.

Pvt. Robert Alonzo Friend, Co. B, 2nd Maine Infantry, On the Battle

28 10 2022

Army Correspondence.


Fort Corcoran, Aug. 1st, 1861.
2nd Maine Regiment, Co. B.

Dear Brother Will: – I received your letter yesterday desiring a description of the late battle, yet you did not know then as I could give you one, but I am alive and will try.

When I first got to Alexandria I was too tired to write anything. First we started at s o’clock and marched near to Bull Run where the rest of our brigade was, halted and the other troops went by us leaving a reserve in sight of 1100 men. The roads were cleared and the cannon were hauled up where they could play on the woods. They fired and fired, but could get no answer. A few men could be seen near where we supposed the batteries were, and then four regiments were ordered to charge on them. They had to go over a small hill and make a circuit of some distance to ford the stream, then the rebels opened their fire on our troops; our artillery men could then see where to shoot and they silenced the battery before the troops got there. I was not in sight of this all of the time, but was on the ground soon, for we marched double quick for 1 1-2 miles, the rebels running without giving us much of a chance to shoot, although as they left their batteries our boys poured in a little cold lead. We could see them run and some fall – this was in the woods. Soon not a man was left under the hill, and we were ordered to the top of the hill, our regiment on the left of the right wing. We went over the plain in haste, for we exposed ourselves to the hill which was so full of men that we could not see the awful cannon shot come sweeping past like something you never saw. Still on we went and clear from those shot, for not a man was killed in our regiment. We then climbed up the side of the mountain where the rebels supposed none were able to and passed half to their rear, and halted in another hollow – the place is full of hills and runs – then we took a rest having run in all 2 1-2 miles – Some of our men were at them in their batteries when out rushed a Georgetown regiment to charge on us. We let them come near enough to distinguish them then fired “pell mell.” To tell you how I felt then is more than I know how. If you ever had a horse on the point of jumping on you and crushing you to the earth then you can begin to guess how we felt. They did not stop long, only let us get one shot at them, then left for their batteries and we after them, came close up to them and halted. – Not any of our company killed yet at this juncture. General Keyes came to Col. Jameson and said, “Will you storm that battery?” Jameson answered, “What! alone?” The General repeated, “will you storm that battery?” “Yes,” said Jameson, ”storm h—l if you say so.” And then, “boys, forward, double quick.” There were some who might well tremble. We advanced about 30 rods when they opened an awful fire upon us, killing and wounding many. Three of our boys fell there. Then we laid down on the ground, loaded our guns and rose to shoot. One of the three, John Dealing was on the point of firing when he was hit through the breast. He gasped but twice and died. We were ordered to fall back to the point of woods and fence, which we did, keeping up a fire as we could see them. They thought we were whipped and sent a company of cavalry on us, but we beat them off killing them like birds. I saw over 30 of their horses run from the field riderless, and more horses killed than riders. They were attacked by three other regiments and we all drove them from their works. One more of our boys fell at this time, Eben F. Perkins of Brooksville. The ball did not kill him dead, and he lived to be carried from the ground and soon died. When they ran we gave them some awful shots; they killed but few of us compared to what we did of them. We went to the top of the hill and fired into the other batteries. Company B. was sent to carry off the wounded left where we charged on the batteries. I was one and at that time the shot and shell were coming over and killing many of the strong men on the field. We were so near them that we were overshot by most of their rifles and cannon. Well, it was dreadful to see, yet we could walk among the dead and dying and not be moved – the shot flying thick, none moved and faster or slower – lost all fear. Soon it was rumored that Patterson was coming and our boys “halloed right out.” But alas! it was Johnston the rebel, and we fought them ihardi about 40 minutes, when the left wing broke and retreated, then the right gave away slowly at first. At that time I was at the stone Hospital carrying up the wounded – George Hall was with me. As our regiment passed he left me. I was fixing a bier to carry off some of my friends, all wishing to be carried off or killed, to save the rebels the opportunity of performing the horrid work. While I was thus engaged the cry came, “the cavalry! the cavalry!” Now, Will, that struck terror to us all, there was a large body of them to flank us – it was fight or die, no other alternative. I felt then as good as done for. About 500 of us boys, with the wounded, half armed, no head or tail, but there were no cowards now for they had left, and I left friends for foes. The fire began left, right and canter; it was deadly too, and I got four shots at them. A boy from Ohio who stood along side of me killed two at one shot. I took good aim and fired at one about 80 yards but would not say I killed him, yet some were killed – the last fire over 20 fell. About that time one of our men said that 60 fell on the ground, but I am not one who see things so sure as to the number. They were shelling us all the time from their batteries – now all ran for their lives to overtake the big crowd. As I ran with a New York boy a shell came whizzing – we dodged – it struck my friend’s head scattering his brains and blood all over me. I passed on; he was the only man that I know of being killed in the retreat. We were chased and harassed some distance, and I never was so tired before in my life as when I got to Centreville; then we were stationed to guard a park of artillery. At about 10 or a little later, we took up a march for Alexandria. Now we find our regimental loss of killed and missing to be 88 and 26 wounded, we have with us making in all 114. I took pains this morning to find out the exact number let the papers say what they will and that is so. We lost in all at the battle, one battery of 6 guns and a part of another, in all 10, a large number of small arms, and about 1000 fell and 500 taken prisoners. This is as near that matter as we can come, perhaps it is less, but a doubt if it is much, we do not miss them in regard to number. As a general thing they are getting over it every day, but my health is poor, weight 129, not quite 160. Tell Capt. Forhen I did what I could towards killing a Southerner for myself and him too.

Hoping to see you again, I am your brother
R. A. Friend

Ellsworth (ME) American, 8/23/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

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Image: Lt. Col. Charles Wentworth Roberts, 2nd Maine Infantry

31 03 2022
Charles Wentworth Roberts (Courtesy of Brad Pruden)

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Unit History – 2nd Maine Infantry

8 03 2022

Col., Charles D. Jameson; Lieut.-Col., Charles W. Roberts; Maj., George Varney. Numerically the second, this was in fact the first regiment to leave the state for the front. It was raised within the limits of the first militia division of the state and was rendezvoused at Bangor. Companies A, B, C, D and I belonged to Col. Jameson’s old command, and were reorganized for service in this regiment. The others were new companies. It completed its organization and left the state May 14, 1861. Like the 1st, it originally enlisted for three months, but on May 28, was mustered into the United States service for two years. The 2nd, during its two years’ term of service, saw much hard service and participated in eleven bloody and hard-fought battles, besides numerous skirmishes and scouting expeditions. It never received a word of censure and invariably distinguished itself. A list of the important battles in which it was engaged includes the first and second Bull Run, Hall’s Hill, Yorktown, Hanover Court House, Gaines’ Mill, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. The magnificent fighting record of the 2nd was largely due to the efficiency of its officers. It showed the stuff it was made of in its first battle at Bull Run. Col. Keyes, who commanded the brigade which included the 2nd Me., says in his official report of the battle: “The gallantry with which the 2nd regiment of Maine volunteers charged up the hill upon the enemy’s artillery and infantry, was never in my opinion surpassed.” Col. Jameson, the first volunteer and the first colonel in the field from Maine, was commissioned brigadier-general of volunteers for gallantry displayed in this, his first battle. Lieut.-Col. Roberts succeeded to the command of the regiment, and after his resignation and honorable discharge, Jan. 10, 1863, Lieut. – Col. Varney was promoted to the colonelcy of the regiment and Maj. Sargent was commissioned lieutenant-colonel, the majorship being left vacant on account of the reduced condition of the regiment. On July 18, 1862, Capt. Chaplin, who had succeeded Varney in that command, was discharged to enable him to accept the command of the 18th Me., then being raised, and Capt. Sargent of Co. G was promoted to fill the vacancy. Some of the men became discontented three months after leaving the state from seeing three months’ men from other states returning home. Sixty-six claimed their time had expired, became insubordinate, and were sentenced to Tortugas; but this sentence was later commuted to a transfer to the 2nd N. Y., where they served about a year and then returned and served faithfully with the regiment for the remainder of the term. Co. I became greatly reduced in numbers in Oct.,1861, and the officers having resigned, it was disbanded. Capt. Daniel White of Bangor raised a new company which took its place in December of that year. On July 28, 1862, the effective strength of the 2nd became reduced to 257 rifles and came out of the battle of Second Bull Run with but 137 men able to carry arms. This is most convincing evidence of the trying service to which they were subjected. The regiment was mustered out June 4, and 9, 1863. In all 1,228 men were mustered in, of whom 275 returned and were mustered out; 120 were mustered in for three years and transferred to the 20th Me.

From The Union Army, Vol. 1, pp. 39-40

Image: Maj. George W. Varney, 2nd Maine Infantry

14 06 2021
George. W. Varney, 2nd ME Infantry, Contributed by Joseph Maghe
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Pvt. James Kelley, Co. G, 2nd Maine Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

5 06 2020

Another Soldier’s Account of the Battle.

Exeter, Aug. 3d, 1861.

Mr. Editor:

The following is an extract from a private letter from James Kelley of this town, who is a soldier in the 2d Maine Regiment, and was engaged in the battle at Bull Run:

Yours, D. B.

We started from our encampment at 2 o’clock Sunday morning, and marched four miles and came upon four masked batteries. They were about six or seven rods apart, and had trenches dug so that they could go from one to the other without being shot. We drove them all into one, and thus they knew they had got to fight or die, and so they went at it, and I tell you George, they will fight when you get them penned, but when there is a chance they had rather run than stand. We had a long and hard time of it. The first gun was fired at half past four in the morning, and we fought eight hours , and the guns were not silenced during the whole time. We had a flag sent us the day before we fought from California, which cost twelve hundred dollars, and they shot two men from under it but they did not get it.

At 5 o’clock we had driven them back from their guns, and our regiment made a rush for them, but we were too late, for when we had got within twenty feet of their guns they had a reinforcement of five thousand, commanded by Johnston, and we had not eaten anything and had nothing to drink and were all exhausted, and Tyler gave the order to retreat, we turned and walked off. There was not a man run until we were half a mile off, and then the way the government shoes flew was not slow, for they had begun to throw shells into us. A man that was running beside me had his legs taken off by a cannon ball. After we had gone about four miles we were attacked by the South Carolina Black Horse Cavalry. One hundred of them hit the ground, and the others thought it was time to be leaving. I got one of their swords to remember them by.

Bangor (ME) Daily Whig and Courier, 8/6/1861

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Pvt. George Field*, Co. H, 2nd Maine Infantry, On the Battle and Retreat

4 06 2020

Another Soldier’s Account of the Battle.

Extract of a letter from George E. Field* of Lee, private in Capt. Meinecke’s Company, to his father, dated July 23d:

“We were called out at one o’clock Saturday night, and given to understand that there was to be a battle the next day, and were then marched along from point to point, till eleven o’clock on Sunday morning, when the order came to throw aside our blankets and haversacks, and prepare for a charge on the enemy. We then ran some two miles, over streams, through woods and swamps, till nearly one half the regiment dropped behind from sheer exhaustion. We then formed a line under the brow of a hill, and waited for the stragglers to come up. Then came the order to charge up the hill, and the moment we reached the top we were met by a shower of musket balls; we returned the fire and charged again, loading as we ran. The enemy retreated towards their batteries, and the moment they were out of range of their own cannon, we were met by a perfect hurricane of balls, grape-shot and shell; but we kept on till we almost reached the batteries, and then came the order to retreat, which we did slowly, firing as we went.

* * * * *

Our brigade of nearly four thousand men formed and retreated under General Tyler, in good order for a mile, when we began to be joined by others, all broken and in confusion, which produced a panic in our ranks, and we retreated for two or three miles in complete confusion.

As we approached a narrow bridge over a shallow stream, we were attacked by a force of the enemy, and then commenced to rush for the bridge. Men, baggage wagons, ambulances and artillery were all struggling to get across. I jumped off the bridge into the water to escape being jammed to death, and had just got under the bridge, when down came a heavy wagon and four horses, head over heels. I swam across and got out on the other side. Our regiment then formed in a line, waited until all were over and then closed in and acted as rear guard till we met our reserve force. We got to our old camping ground at dark and laid down on the wet ground without blankets, by the side of our guns, some of us wet to the skin, and slept an hour, when the word came to continue our retreat. We marched all night and until ten o’clock next day, when we reached Alexandria. It rained smartly. We had marched about fifty miles, and most of the regiment had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours. When we arrived we stood two hours in the rain. They then gave us a drink of whiskey (I took some that time), and turned us into an old store and left us. About dark we were supplied with a loaf of bread and a slice of raw bacon.

Capt. Meinecke was quite badly injured while crossing the bridge. Our chief surgeon and chaplain were taken prisoners. Capt. Jameson acted with great bravery in the charge and led his men to bring off the wounded.

Bangor (ME) Daily Whig and Courier, 8/6/1861

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Contributed by John Hennessy

* Only George A. Field in 2nd ME was found in available databases (below). Records show him in both Co. H and Co. I. Captain F. Meinecke commanded Co. H.

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Image: Corp. Benjamin F. Smart, Co. D, 2nd Maine Infantry

11 07 2017


Corporal Benjamin Freeman Smart, Co. D, 2nd Maine Infantry (see this site)

Corporal Benjamin Freeman Smart, Co. D, 2nd Maine, on The Battle

10 07 2017

Alexandria, Virginia – July 23, 1861 (Tuesday, 7 AM)

Dear Father;

After fighting one of the hardest battles that we ever fought in America, your son was not hurt in any way. It is true that we are defeated, and our army routed, but it was not the soldiers’ fault, for never did the soldiers fight harder, or bolder than those engaged in that battle. I think I tell the truth when I lay it to poor Generalship. I am sorry to say anything about or against our General Tyler, but I believe, and it is the belief of many, that he worked for the interest of the South instead of the North. That is a hard saying, but I feel so. If McClellan had conducted that noble army, I believe we would have routed them, although their number was greater than ours. I will say for the Maine boys, that they did nobly. The enemy were entrenched and behind the strongest batteries that could be made, and that stronghold which is just this side of Manassas was what we endeavored to take. I feel proud to think that I am a soldier of the Maine 2nd Regiment. They fought like tigers, and made one of the boldest and most daring charges that was ever made. They were twenty rods nearer the battery than any other Regiment.

Now for a very short detail of our operations. At 1 o’clock Sunday morning we left our encampment at Centerville and moved on. We then halted and let every Brigade pass us. Our Brigade consisted of three Connecticut and the Maine 2nd under Colonel Keyes, a U.S. Officer. But soon the order came to advance without any load except cartridges and belts. We stripped for the fight, and marched onward. We soon came into Sherman’s battery which was throwing ball and shell at a rapid rate. We then moved onward “Double Quick” for two miles. It was at that moment that we ascertained why we were kept in the rear. It was to be fresh for the boldest attack. We came within a short distance of the battery when we formed in the line of battle under a small hill. Maine boys attacked the front, and the Connecticut – each wing, and one Connecticut at reserve. The order came to forward march. Then came the order from our noble Colonel to forward guide center double quick march, Then came the tug of war.

One howl passed along the line, and the bold boys of the 2nd Maine dashed forward like lightning, firing as fast as possible. Our men began to fall like hail stones, but that did not discourage them. They rushed onward and were led by the most gallant officer that ever fought. We were quite near the battery, from which came ball, shell, grape & chain shot, also rifle and musket. Balls flew like hail stones among us, with every volley taking its number of bold men, but still unflinchingly the Maine boys dashed onward, showing neither fear nor cowardice. But our Brigadier General soon saw that the enemy was too strong for us. He rode to the left wing and gave the order to fall back to the woods on our left. This was our third charge, he gave the order twice before our heroic Major gave it to his men. I was on the right of the left wing, but when they turned toward the woods, I looked about. I beheld the Stars and Stripes and my beloved Colonel on the right. I said to myself – I never will leave that flag unprotected. I rushed for it, leaving my company there. I found our Colonel cheering his men he himself in advance of them all. Oh, Father, words are inadequate to express my love for the Patriotic hero, he deserves the praise of every living being in Maine, oh yes, and the U.S.

There he stood like one that knew not fear. He dashed on with the remainder of the Regiment, and went very near the battery. Had we been reinforced at that moment, the battery would have been ours, but was then impossible. I rushed to the Colonel’s side. He said: “Has the left wing of my Regiment fled?” I then told him how bravely they fought, and how they received orders twice from Colonel Keys before they fell back. A smile then lit up his countenance. He then drew his men together and fell back to the road which formed a breastwork for us. Our brigade was divided about 200 rods apart. All of the Connecticut Regiment, and the left wing of ours on the left, and the right wing of ours on the right, and not an officer of either part knew where the other was. The Colonel came to me and asked if I knew anything about the remainder, and it happened that I was the only one there that did know. He asked me if I could go and deliver a message to Colonel Keys. I knew what a dangerous undertaking, but of course your son said yes, and while the others lay concealed, I seized my gun, and rushed by the very cannon’s mouth for 100 rods without any shelter. When I came to the middle of the field, the cannon and musket balls flew all around me. I don’t see what saved me. Three cannon balls struck within three feet of me, and the rifle balls whizzed by me like a swarm of bees. It seemed to me that they saw me, and knew my errand. I neither paused, nor looked around, but dashed forward ’till I came to the left wing. The boys all cheered me as I went by. The Connecticut officers ordered me to lie down. They said I was exposing their whole Regiment. I said to them, “I know my business, and shall perform my duty.” I dashed along to the left of their line. There I found the Commanding officer, and delivered my message. He cheered me, and gave me orders for Colonel Jameson, but would not let me go back as I came, but told me to go down a ravine and through a piece of woods. I asked him twice to let me go as I came, but he wouldn’t consent for he said he didn’t want me to get killed. I soon found the Colonel who was watching for me. He waved his hand when I came in sight. I sprang forward, and was soon at his side. I felt proud to think that I had done him a little good. The officers rushed to me as if I was a lion. The Colonel then ordered his men to follow him, and me to act as a guide. I led them around through the same ravine. Many of them said I must be going wrong, but the Colonel ordered them to follow. I ran ahead ’till I came to the main body of our Brigade. I then jumped up on a fence and waved my cap until they came to me. Then they found that I had led them just right. I then reported myself to the General. He ordered me to fall back and rest, for he saw that I was nearly exhausted. I asked him if I should not act my pleasure, and he said yes. Well, said I, I will be in the ranks in ten minutes. He smiled, and I turned away. I got some water, and wet my head and drank a little, seized my gun, and fell in my place. I feel that I did my whole duty, and my officers give me praise.

Our Regiment was cut up badly. I think half or more of those noble boys are gone. There appear to be but a handful of them left. Our Regiment retreated in fair order, but this whole Army was broken up. There were too many for us, as we were led by our General. But we will wipe them out yet. In retreat we marched 32 miles, and I am very weary, but I stand it finely. I am ready to try them again any moment. “By the eternal” I will fight them until they recognize the Constitution of the U.S.

Our Regiment is so broken up that it will take some time to recruit. Our Captain was injured, while crossing a bridge in the retreat, across the chest. I led him along until I found a baggage wagon. Then I put him into it, and stuck by him all night. He was very grateful to me for my kindness. When morning came, I secured a horse for him, and guarded him until he was safely landed in this place.

One of our Corporals is probably dead, and another wounded, and about half of our Company are gone. It is hard, but then it is honorable to die for one’s country. All of our Field Officers are living. One or two Captains and several Lieutenants were killed or wounded. Some taken prisoners. I think our Chaplain and Surgeon are in the hands of the enemy, besides many others. I had no fear at any time. I was greatly excited and willing to do anything. I do not think there was a coward in the whole Regiment. We brought off all our flags in good shape. The bearer of the largest one was the first man shot.

I saw Major Nickerson yesterday, also Colonel Marshall and Captain Cunningham. They are all well, and send their regards to you. Captain Bean and Lieutenant Bird of the Brook Company were slightly wounded. Captain Sherwood was wounded in the arm, may lose it. Lieutenant Walker is all right. He behaved nobly, so say his men. I am going to see him soon. Mark Dodge and Daniel Nickerson are both well. Our Officers all behaved like patriotic heroes, and deserve the praise of all of Maine. Maine need not feel ashamed of her officers or men, for no others fought more bravely but the 2nd Regiment is ahead of all the others. No man behaved more heroic that Lieutenant Garnsey of our Company. I have not time to write more. Excuse the composition, spelling and writing, for I am so hasty that I think I have left out about half.

Yours in haste, from your son, B. F. Smart

Source (this site includes more information and writings of Smart)

Contributed by John Hennessy

Sgt. William P. Holden, Co. H, 2nd Maine Infantry, On the Battle

29 01 2013

Position of the Second.

1861 8-3 Bangor Daily Whig and Courier 2d Maine Bull Run with map 1861 8-3 Bangor Daily Whig and Courier 2d Maine Bull Run with map

We copy above what we should judge to be a very correct diagram of the position of our Second at the battle of Bull Run. It was roughly made, with such conveniences as are at the command of soldiers, by Wm. P. Holden of this city, and accompanied a private letter to his father. We copy such portions of the letter as explain the map; that our readers may understand, as clearly as may be, the exact position of our regiment, at the fight. After giving an account of the terrible forced march, fatigue and almost starvation preceding the attack, he says: –

We started for Bull Run on Sunday morning at 2 o’clock. The head of the column came up to a battery about 8 o’clock, and the artillery commenced throwing shell and balls into it, and in about half an hour they left it, and retreated to another. The artillery moved to the top of a hill, marked our battery. I have only marked on the map the battery which our regiment charged upon. There were eight more to the right. It was 12 o’clock before our regiment was called to charge. They were about three miles to the rear of the battery which they charged upon. They marched double quick all the way, and as it was a very hot day, you can judge what kind of shape the boys were in to fight. A great many of them could not stand it to run so far, and fell out of the ranks before they arrived at the battle ground. Our regiment went upon the main road as far as the line, marked through the cornfield and woods, and drew up in line of battle, in front of the woods. When we came out of the woods, there were a lot of rebel troops in the orchard, but as they were dressed in gray, our officers supposed they were our troops, and did not find out otherwise until they retreated some distance, turned and fired upon us, killing all that were killed during the fight. The Colonel then gave the order to charge upon them, which we did until within 40 yards of the battery, where our men stood until they were ordered to retreat by Col. Keyes. They then retreated to the woods, and laid down to rest. Gen. Tyler soon came down and ordered them to charge again, but Colonel Keyes said our regiment had done their share of fighting, and that he had better order one of the Connecticut regiments on, as they had not done any fighting. About 4 o’clock a general order to retreat to Centreville was given, as the rebels had received a reinforcement of 30,000 men from Manassas, and our troops had been fighting for eight hours and were pretty well tire out. We retreated to Centreville and encamped. About 12 o’clock at night, orders came from Gen. McDowell to retreat to Washington.

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier,  8/3/1861

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William P. Holden at Ancestry.com

Contributed by John Hennessy