Like most soldiers, Brig. Gen. George F. Shepley kept in close contact with friends and family at home, including his parents, his daughters, and former colleagues and associates,
Portland and Maine had not forgotten Shepley, either. Especially as the 1864 presidential elections neared, Shepley was a highly sought-after speaker in Maine and elsewhere.
In May 1862, not long after Shepley became military commandant of New Orleans, Sylvanus R. Lyman of Portland, active in Maine Democratic politics, wrote him to urge him to run for the U.S. Senate.
Lyman wrote that there was discussion of putting Shepley up for governor, but that "we could do far better with your name for Congress."
He urged Shepley to repudiate having his name put up for governor.
William P. Preble of Portland wrote to Shepley in August 1862 asking him to secure stamps for him from Nashville, Memphis, Baton Rouge and New Orleans.
Preble, a lawyer, was collecting stamps that various Southern cities issued in advance of the Confederacy selecting a stamp design.
The two had spoken about the stamps when Shepley visited recently in Portland.
Preble also wrote that he recently gone to New York for the body of his nephew, 1st Lt. Robert Allen, who was shot at Mechanicsville and died in New York.
Annie C. Thornton, the wife of Capt. Charles C.G. Thornton of the 12th Maine Infantry, wrote to thank Shepley for his "great kindness to Chas. and still greater to me."
Charles Thornton had been wounded and taken prisoner at Ponchatoula on Sept. 15 and Shepley apparently arranged to have Thornton paroled and returned to Maine to recover.
Thornton later became Shepley's aide.
Not all of Shepley's correspondents from Maine were friendly -- nor did all identify themselves.
An anonymous correspondent who identified himself as "One who knows you well" wrote to Shepley expressing "shame" that Union officials in Louisiana stopped publication of a newspaper there, which the writer said supported "peace."
The writer also enclosed a clipping from the New Orleans Delta Mail about the order by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler to suppress the Daily Advocate. The newspaper column quoted the Advocate as saying an armistice might be near and whether it resulted from "Democratic success" or "foreign intervention," peace would be welcome.
Few personal letters remain in the collection of Shepley's war and professional materials.
Here, in December 1862, Shepley wrote to his mother, Anne T. Shepley of Portland about family news and concerns.
He urged his mother to write to him, saying, "I know you are not very fond of letter writing but I hope you will write me as often as possible and tell me what is going on in Portland."
In August of 1863, Samuel H. Dale, mayor of Bangor, and 38 "influential" citizens wrote to invite Shepley to visit Bangor while he was in Maine.
Dale wrote that they wanted to welcome Shepley home and learn from him "such lessons of Patriotism and Duty as the day and the hour imperatively demand."
Shepley visited Portland from time to time and was sought after as a speaker, a source of war information, and an officer in a position of authority.
In November 1863, Isaiah T. Williams, a prominent New York lawyer, wrote to Shepley to express his regret that he had not seen the general in New York or Maine on Shepley's recent visit.
Williams praised Shepley for a speech he gave in Portland. He wrote, "I will say if both in the field & in the Council Chamber you act as effectively for your country as you did upon the rostrum your fame will not be likely to be eclipsed in your day or mine."
A frequent correspondent was Horatio Jose, a Portland businessman and a close friend of Shepley.
Jose had served for about 10 months as quartermaster of the 12th Maine, which Shepley commanded.
In November 1863, Jose wrote to his friend about the booming business opportunities in Portland.
Jose wrote, "At the present time Portland appears to be in a very prosperous condition. I think it never has increased so much in business & population in any one year as the present."
He also discussed opportunities in banking and railroads, and told Shepley he had been buying up land and saw possibilities for the city's expansion.
About a month later, Jose wrote to follow up on a previous letter in which he tried to interest Shepley in the planned National Bank in Portland.
Jose wrote that "Mr. Brown," referring to sugar magnate John Bundy Brown, wanted Shepley as head of the bank.
Jose noted that Brown had sufficient funds to "take all the stock" if necessary, but wanted "able men" to join him in managing the bank.
In January 1864, Jose wrote Shepley seeking help in getting a discharge for "Webb," who intended to move to Chicago but was ill.
He may have been referring to Charles D. Webb of Portland, who was quartermaster for the 12th Maine Regiment. Shepley and Jose both had served in the 12th Maine.
Jose wrote that the Preble House addition was finished and was "much improved."
He also expressed concern, echoed by others in Portland, that Shepley, a lawyer who had practiced in Bangor and Portland and had served as U.S. Attorney for Maine, might not return to Maine after the war.
James Dunning, a banker in Bangor, added to a series of pleas made by people in Maine Shepley return to the state before the 1864 election and give speeches inspiring votes for the Union cause.
Dunning wrote, "I feel confident there is no man in the country would do so much good as you could, toward wiping out the infernal sentiments of treason which are now so rampant."
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