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12th Maine Regiment in Louisiana

This slideshow contains 18 items
1
George F. Shepley on plans for 12th Maine, 1861

George F. Shepley on plans for 12th Maine, 1861

Item 79087 info
Maine Historical Society

Democrats and Lawyers

The 12th Maine Regiment, formed in November 1861, was one of the 10 regiments Major General Benjamin F. Butler of Massachusetts received permission to form.

George F. Shepley, a Democrat and a noted Portland lawyer and U.S. Attorney for Maine, headed the new regiment.

On Oct. 1, 1861, Shepley wrote to Maine Gov. Israel Washburn to report that he expected the new 12th Maine Regiment to be filled soon "with the very best men in the State."

Shepley also reported, "I have abandoned every other thought and pursuit, and have embarked in this movement all my hopes energies and efforts and, if need be my fortune and my life."


2
Letter concerning regimental supplies, 1861

Letter concerning regimental supplies, 1861

Item 18441 info
Maine Historical Society

Butler, a Democrat, thought it was a mistake to let governors, most of whom were Republicans, control officer appointments. He convinced Lincoln that the war would become a "party" war.

Butler had met Shepley at the Democratic convention in 1860 and asked Washburn to commission Shepley as a colonel and authorize him to recruit a regiment.


3
Letter about 12th Maine Regiment supplies, 1861

Letter about 12th Maine Regiment supplies, 1861

Item 18442 info
Maine Historical Society

On Nov. 7, 1861, Shepley wrote to Gov. Washburn that the regiment was leaving sooner than expected -- and would be the "first regiment in the field of the new ones authorized to be raised by Gen'l Butler."

The quick departure made acquisition of supplies and ordnance challenging.


4
Letter on regimental forms, 1861

Letter on regimental forms, 1861

Item 70082 info
Maine Historical Society

Paperwork and other details had to catch up with the 12th Maine after its speedy formation and departure for Massachusetts.

In December 1861, P. Haggerty wrote from the Dept. of New England in December 1861 to Shepley about blank forms he was sending. Part of his message is in prose, but the conclusion is in poetry:

As Captain Knight
The jolly wight
To night remains in Boston
Therefore the rolls
And paper scrolls
I send to your direction

Capt. Enoch Knight of Bridgton was the commander of Co. E of the 12th Maine.


5
Soldier excuse for absence, Boston, 1861

Soldier excuse for absence, Boston, 1861

Item 70133 info
Maine Historical Society

Adjusting to the rules of army life was never easy.

Patrick Melody of Portland, a private in Co. B of the 12th Maine Regiment, wrote to Shepley on Dec. 12, 1861, only a month after enlisting, asking to be excused for being absent after a furlough.

He wrote that he was not a deserter and stated, "I will return this evening I remain your faithful soldier untill the Country is free."

Melody, an Irish immigrant, was 33 when he enlisted when the regiment was formed in November 1861. He was mustered out in 1866


6
Report on seized ordnance, New Orleans, 1862

Report on seized ordnance, New Orleans, 1862

Item 70813 info
Maine Historical Society

Among the officers of the Regiment were lawyers Shepley, Lt. Col. William K. Kimball of Paris, former U.S. Marshal; Major David R. Hastings of Lovell; Quartermaster Horatio Jose of Portland (working as a businessman), Capt. Elisha Winter of Dixfield, Co. D; Capt. Enoch Knight of Bridgton, Co. E; and Capt. John Appleton of Bangor, whose father was a judge, Co. H.

Many members of the regiment also were Democrats.

They were sent first to Lowell, Massachusetts for training. By early January 1862, the regiment, along with others from Maine, was at Ship Island, Mississippi, the staging area for an expected assault on New Orleans.


7
Lt. Elbridge Bolton resignation, New Orleans, 1862

Lt. Elbridge Bolton resignation, New Orleans, 1862

Item 71950 info
Maine Historical Society

The 12th remained at Ship Island until early May. New Orleans had fallen largely due to naval actions under Capt. David Farragut at the end of April 1862, at which time Col. Shepley became military commandant of the city.

The 12th then remained in New Orleans until the end of October, providing security for parts of the city.

The regiment, now under command of Col. Kimball, was involved at Manchac Pass, where it captured two Confederate batteries, stores, and money.


8
Surgeon letter on soldier resignation, New Orleans, 1862

Surgeon letter on soldier resignation, New Orleans, 1862

Item 71951 info
Maine Historical Society

James H. Thompson, surgeon of the 12th Maine Infantry, wrote to Lt. Col. Kimball, the regimental commander, in support of a letter of resignation of Lt. Elbridge Bolton.

Thompson wrote that Bolton, age 39 of Portland, suffered "severely from Piles" and would continue to do so in the New Orleans climate.

Thompson, of Orono, enlisted in November 1861 and served until September 1865 with the rank of brevet lieutenant colonel.


9
Col. Kimball letter on 12th Regt. promotions, 1862

Col. Kimball letter on 12th Regt. promotions, 1862

Item 74245 info
Maine Historical Society

The 12th also fought at the Siege of Port Hudson in the spring of 1863, where they supported Farragut's naval movements.

At Port Hudson, the regiment lost 68 killed and wounded.

The regiment remained in the New Orleans area through the spring of 1864, when the three-year enlistments expired and most of the members of the regiment re-enlisted.


10
Vacancies, recommendations for promotion, 12th Maine, 1862

Vacancies, recommendations for promotion, 12th Maine, 1862

Item 74244 info
Maine Historical Society

By the end of 1862, the 12th Maine had a number of vacancies among its officers.

Col. William Kimball had become the commander of the regiment when now Brig. Gen. George F. Shepley became military governor of Louisiana.

However, Shepley and Kimball consulted on recommendations for new officers to fill vacancies. The recommendations were sent to Maine Gov. Israel Washburn, who had responsibility for commissioning officers and assigning them.


11
Lt. Hight to Capt. Appleton, Louisiana, 1862

Lt. Hight to Capt. Appleton, Louisiana, 1862

Item 74504 info
Maine Historical Society

Because New Orleans and parts of Louisiana were occupied territory, some Union soldiers -- and commanders -- believed they could appropriate property from Rebel plantations and homes.

In most cases, troops could appropriate items needed for the army, but were not supposed to randomly loot and take items for personal gain.

Some homes and other structures were used by regiments for headquarters or housing for officers -- and the owners were often paid for this use.

As this letter suggests, some enterprising Louisiana residents took advantage of this and sought to gain payments for properties they did not own.

Lt. Horatio Hight of Co. C of the 12th Maine Infantry wrote from Camp Carapet in Louisiana to Capt. John F. Appleton of Co. H of the 12th Maine in response to a bill from a man named LeClerc whose home was used by Co. C of the 12th Maine.

Hight wrote that he believed the matter already had been settled but that LeClerc's bill was "the most outrageous piece of impudence I have heard of even in New Orleans."


12
Capt. Appleton report on claim against U.S., Louisiana, 1862

Capt. Appleton report on claim against U.S., Louisiana, 1862

Item 74505 info
Maine Historical Society

The case did not easily disappear, however. On Nov. 15, 1862, Capt. Appleton wrote a report to Col. J.W. Schaffer, chief U.S. quartermaster, concerning LeClerc's bill.

Appleton wrote that the case had gone before a judge three times because Capt. Charles Thornton, who had since been injured and was temporarily away from Co. C, had not been satisfied with the findings.

Appleton confirmed that the bill had been paid Aug. 12.


13
Col. Kimball request for release of prisoners, New Orleans, 1862

Col. Kimball request for release of prisoners, New Orleans, 1862

Item 74247 info
Maine Historical Society

In October 1862 Col. Kimball wrote to Shepley seeking his assistance in gaining the release of eight soldiers from the 12th Maine who Kimball believed were being held unlawfully.

Kimball noted in his plea for Shepley's help that the soldiers were seized for not having passes.

He commented that two other soldiers, both privates, were in prison "for cause" and he did not seek their release.


14
Rejection of bill for straw for 12th Maine, Washington, D.C., 1862

Rejection of bill for straw for 12th Maine, Washington, D.C., 1862

Item 74506 info
Maine Historical Society

The process of supplying troops with necessary food, clothing, shelter, ordnance, and other items was a complex one.

Each regiment had a quartermaster who was in charge of procurement. The adjutant general's office in Washington oversaw the whole process.

In November 1862, the adjutant general wrote to Brig. Gen. Shepley to tell him the math didn't add up in a requisition for straw from the previous winter when Shepley still commanded the regiment.

W.A. Nichols wrote that there were 927 men, who each received 12 pounds of straw a month, which equaled 11,124 pounds, but the bill was for 23,564 pounds. The monetary difference, $49.76 was to be credited to the 1st Infantry and charged to the 12th Maine.


15
Gen. G.F. Shepley on straw for 12th Regiment, New Orleans, 1862

Gen. G.F. Shepley on straw for 12th Regiment, New Orleans, 1862

Item 74533 info
Maine Historical Society

Shepley wrote back to Adjutant General L. Thomas about the $49.76 bill charged to the 12th Maine Regiment for excess straw.

He explained why the mathematical formula for how much straw each soldier should receive did not apply -- soldiers had no coats, some had no blankets, and there was snow on the ground when they were camped at Camp Butler in October and November 1861.

Hence, each soldier needed more straw than that the Washington officials allocated.


16
Charles Webb letter to Horatio Jose, Portland, 1863

Charles Webb letter to Horatio Jose, Portland, 1863

Item 18446 info
Maine Historical Society

Paperwork, while not an exciting detail of war, often bogged down officers -- and caused issues that lasted for years.

In December 1863, 12th Maine Quartermaster Charles Webb wrote to Horatio Jose, the original quartermaster of the regiment, about a problem Jose was having with the Military Affairs department relating to ordnance for which Jose was responsible.

The office in Washington could not find receipts for muskets the regiment was issued when it was formed in the fall of 1861.


17
H. Jose on ordnance documents, Portland, 1865

H. Jose on ordnance documents, Portland, 1865

Item 76610 info
Maine Historical Society

A little more than a year later, the issue still wasn't resolved.

Jose, by this time returned to his business ventures in Portland, wrote about the issue in January 1865 to his friend Brig. Gen. Shepley, who had commanded the 12th Maine when Jose was quartermaster.

Shepley, now serving as commander of the Division of Eastern Virginia of the Union army, had received several notices that ordnance issued to the 12th Maine had not been accounted for in the fourth quarter reports of 1861.

Jose reported that he did not recall receiving invoices or giving receipts for the stores and that all the regiment's paperwork was destroyed by the Confederates at Bayou Boeuf.


18
Horatio Jose on ordnance paperwork, Portland, 1865

Horatio Jose on ordnance paperwork, Portland, 1865

Item 76611 info
Maine Historical Society

After writing to Shepley, Jose wrote a more official report about the 1861 ordnance receipt.

Jose wrote that "invoices and vouchers of ordnance stores were all lost or destroyed by the enemy with all the regimental books & papers at 'Bayou Boeuf.'"

Military success or failure aside, the offices in Washington wanted to ensure that all supplies were accounted for and properly used.


This slideshow contains 18 items