CIVIL WAR CONNECTION – 22nd MAINE

22nd Maine at Camp Jameson, Hall's hill... by Mathew B. Brady
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The 22nd Maine Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War; A History and Roster by Ned Smith became available in December 2010. I immediately purchased it because it is the regimental history of the unit in which my great grandfather served. I read the book and enjoyed it for five reasons.

1. The story is told through the letters of a private, 19 year old Francis Ireland of Dexter. Author Smith ties the letters together with information from officers’ reports and other official records, but it is a private’s story. It is not a history supplemented with a few letters.

2. It tells the story of my ancestor, Francis P. Lane of Cooper. He was 18 when he enlisted and not without friends and neighbors. Cooper men Henry Burbank, Charles Hayward, Benjamin and Levi Henderson and Hiram Hitchings joined Alexander residents William H. Brown, William H. Crafts, John Munson and Samuel Seamans plus Crawford men Stillman Bailey, Isaac Noddin and Daniel Perkins as part of Company F. Through the words of Frank Ireland, whose letters are a basis for this book, I witnessed what my great grandfather Frank Lane had experienced.

Actually, the only specific activity where I could account for Frank Lane was when he was sick at Camp Seward. The regiment had landed in Washington, DC in late October, rested on an open platform exposed to the NE wind, then marched five miles across the Potomic and camped with no tents. The next morning the rains came. Unlike Charles Card who slept in the rain at a battle scene and was crippled for life, Frank’s exposure to the weather was preventable and his sickness was temporary.

3. I learned about the politics of recruiting men for a regiment, one company at a time. The corporals were elected by the men and the commissioned officers were appointed by the governor. Neither method provided for effective leadership since most officers were untrained. Commissioned officers could and did resign. Corporals were often neighbors who could and did show favoritism. In Company F, most of the men were of Calais as were the officers.

4. The 22nd spent the spring of 1863 in Louisiana, west of the Mississippi. This was during the Civil War; North versus South. Some of the natives there were pro-Confederate, some were pro- Union, and some, the Acadians, had scant sympathy for either side. At times parts of the 22nd were in pursuit of Confederate General Richard Taylor’s Army (He was son of President Zachary Taylor and brother-in-law of Confederate President Jefferson Davis). At other times they were on guard duty preventing looting and lawlessness among the residents. Does that sound like Iraq or Afghanistan?

Later the 22nd was at Port Hudson on the Mississippi. The siege cost Union forces about 5000 men before the city surrendered. It was here that Colonel Simon Gerrard was discharged from his position as head of the 22nd by General Banks. Author Smith defends Gerrard’s lack of aggressive action during the June 14 failed attack on Port Hudson.

5. Hurry-up and wait! Frank Lane and all the men of the 22nd reported to Camp Pope in Bangor in early September 1862 and were finally mustered in on October 10th. The 22nd arrived at Ship Island on December 12, 1862, but didn’t see action until the second week of April 1863. The final wait was for the mustering out. This was a 9-month unit. The men figured that June would be the end of their term. They were mustered out on August 14!

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