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Lt. Charles A. Garcelon, 16th Maine

Charles and Glenda Garcelon, ca. 1913
Charles and Glenda Garcelon, ca. 1913

Item Contributed by
Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library

Text by Candace Kanes

Images from Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections, Bates College

Charles Augusta Garcelon, the oldest son of a prominent Lewiston family, was 19 when he enlisted for Civil War service. He and his maternal uncle, William Waldron, 39, also of Lewiston, formed Co. I of the 16th Maine Infantry Regiment, into which Charles was mustered as a 2nd lieutenant. Waldron was mustered as captain.

Garcelon's father, Alonzo (1813-1906), a physician, was Maine's surgeon general during the war. He and Waldron founded the Lewiston Journal in 1847. Alonzo Garcelon also served in the Maine House from 1853-1854 and 1857-1858 and in the Maine Senate from 1855-1856. He was later mayor of Lewiston and governor of Maine for one term.

Charles Garcelon (1842-1935) became a full captain on June 30, 1864, the same day he was mustered out of the 16th Maine and commissioned in the Quartermaster's Department Infantry. He was mustered out of the service in May 1866.

Not many Charles Garcelon letters remain in the collection of family materials at Bates College. Those that do are newsy, but also philosophical and reflective. His mother had died in 1857, leaving four children at home. Although his father was still very much alive and had, in 1859 married again, Charles felt responsibility for the welfare of his siblings and showed considerable concern for the uncle who served with him.

Garcelon wrote frequently to his aunt, Jane Hitchcock Waldron, and sometimes to his father.

After the Battle of Gettysburg, he wrote to his aunt about her husband's injury -- Waldron was shot in the neck -- and tried to reassure her.

He referred to the war as "this wicked way" and mused about why some who risk their lives in war are spared and others who "remain in seeming security" away from the the war are "taken."

After the war, Garcelon worked for the Wabash Railroad. He became conductor for the Pullman Palace Car Co., then District Superintendent at St. Louis. He later went to Chicago as Pullman's chief operating officer.

When Garcelon retired in 1906, he and his wife, Esther Coffin, retired to Lovell, where they built a large home on Kezar Lake.