First phase, burning of the Old South Church, Bath, 1854

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The subject of this painting is the burning of the church by the Know-Nothing mob, a political party venting its resentment against Catholics and foreigners, July 6, 1854.

John Hilling was born in England in 1822 and arrived in America in the early 1840s, where he settled in Bath, Maine. He remained in Bath until he enlisted in the Civil War infantry in March 1864. He soon rose to sergeant, but received a horrible spinal injury and was honorably discharged on December 12 of the same year. His spinal injury affected him for the rest of his life, in which he focused on painting. Hilling died in Wells in August 1894 and was buried in Maple Grove cemetery in Bath.

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