Text by Douglass Erickson
Images from the Maine Historical Society
"Whatever may become of me individually, God save the country, we need leaders, we have been ruined by the imbecility, imcompetency & treachery of our Generals."
From his Maine regiment, Abner R. Small wrote this to a friend on September 21, 1862. His sentiment was shared by thousands of men both in and out of military service. The War was not going well for the Union and in the summer of 1862, when President Lincoln called for an additional 300,000 troops, it was not a surprise to see so many men enlist in an attempt to bring proper leadership into the Army.
Maine raised four new regiments -- the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th -- and, from the overflow of volunteers, created the 20th Maine on August 29, 1862. What at first looked like an undisciplined and untrained group of men found itself at the center of the Battle of Gettysburg, and hailed as heroes for their actions there.