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Scarborough: They Answered the Call

Text by Mary Pickard

Images from Scarborough Historical Society, Maine Historical Society, and Maine State Archives

To Arms! Citizens! Our Country Calls!! Come on sons of Maine! Our brethren are already in the field; why stand we here idle! Now is the time! Best chance yet offered!

An October 1861 Civil War recruiting poster used peer pressure to urge able-bodied men of Scarborough to join their brethren already in the fray. The poster also implied that benefits of signing up immediately would be better than previous offers. The recruiting officers, Charles C. G. Thornton and Horatio Hight, were Scarborough men.

Most of Scarborough’s townspeople were staunch supporters of the Union, and appeals to enlist in Civil War regiments were taken seriously. Brothers, cousins, friends and neighbors answered the call. Among them were many from the Libby, Milliken, Pillsbury, Coolbroth, Rounds and Waterhouse families.

Charles Thornton, Auditor of Accounts for Scarborough, resigned his office on October 19, 1861 and enlisted on November 15, 1861.

Berry family legend tells of young Hiram, a Pillsbury family handyman, who met a Union recruiter when sent for water one day. Hiram enlisted on the spot and never returned with the water, but instead went off to war.

At the dedication of the Soldiers’ Monument in Dunstan in 1913, the Hon. Augustus Freedom Moulton remarked: "During the Civil War no town and no place surpassed the patriotic record of old Scarboro. Every quota was promptly filled. Every requisition was promptly met. The town was depleted of its young men. In all the great battles in the East, Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg and the rest the men from Scarboro took part, and in the far South, New Orleans, Port Hudson and Red River and elsewhere our boys were present and did their duty."

While not unique in its response, Scarborough did meet every quota. In all, approximately 240 men from the town, which had a population of about 1,600, answered the call and served in the war.

This number included some men from other towns who signed on to fill Scarborough’s quotas and receive bounty money. Others signed on as substitutes for Scarborough men and received a commutation fee, as did Joseph Coy of Portland, a substitute for Simon Libby of Scarborough.

During the war years town warrants seeking approval for monies needed to pay bounties, commutation fees, and support of soldiers’ families were posted in the stores of Freedom Milliken, Joseph Sherman and John Higgins.

The Town of Scarborough Annual Report, March 1863—March 1864, recorded some of these expenditures. Twenty men, three-year volunteers, were mustered in from May 25, 1862 to July 7, 1863 at a cost of $125 bounty per man, or $2,500.

Under the call for nine-month volunteers of August 4, 1862, the quota of 20 men was met again at a cost of $125 bounty per man, or $2,500. The Scarborough quota for the call of October 17, 1863 was for 40 men.

Of this group, 33 volunteered, one was drafted, 5 furnished substitutes, and 5 paid commutation, leaving Scarborough a credit of 4 men toward a future call. The 33 men were paid a bounty of $310 each; the other 11 were paid $300 each. Anticipated calls and expenses for the following year were also reported.

Letters to and from soldiers revealed concerns about the future. In a letter to her friend Gardner Waterhouse with the 7th Maine, Clara Moses cautioned, "Take good care of yourself as you can and take care of your money too, so when you some home you will have something to buy a farm."

Melville Milliken, serving with the 12th Maine, in a letter to his folks, was concerned about a box of letters he sent home "to get rid of lugging them. He wrote, "and if I should ever get home I should like to keep them and if not they are of no use to anyone and will be destroyed."

Many did not return from the war. Some died in battle: George E. Merrill, Battle of Fredericksburg, 1862; Henry Farr, Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia, 1864; Robert Waterhouse, the Wilderness, 1864; Enoch Snow, Battle of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, 1862; and Mahlon Parker, Siege of Port Hudson, 1863.

Others died of disease: Martin Perry, 1863; Benjamin Waterhouse, 1863; and Charles Gustin, 1863. Some died in prison: Sumner Cummings Libby, Salisbury Prison, North Carolina, 1863; John Young, 1865.

Freedom Milliken was one who did return home and for many years was the Town Clerk of Scarborough. Noah Pillsbury, who became Scarborough’s first Rural Free Delivery mailman and toll taker for the Columbia Pike, the road across the Scarborough marsh, also returned.

Thomas Libby, who had been held captive in a Confederate prison in Salisbury, North Carolina, became proprietor of the West Point Hotel at Prouts Neck.

Zebulon Knight, a carpenter, became minister of the South Berwick/Wells Christian Church beginning in 1875, remaining there for 43 years.

Horatio Hight represented Scarborough in the Maine House and later moved to Portland where he served many years as a weigher and gauger in the Customs House.

Charles C.G. Thornton, scion of a prominent Saco business family for whom Thornton Academy is named, became successful in the flour milling trade in Massachusetts and Wisconsin. Thornton also donated the church bell at the Black Point Congregational Church.

And Hiram Berry? He returned to farming and built a farm in the northwest section of Scarborough.

All of Scarborough’s soldiers are honored by the monument dedicated by Augustus Freedom Moulton in 1913. The principal inscription on the Soldiers Monument reads: "Scarboro/To Her Sons/Who Fought/For The Union."

The monument was made possible through the efforts of the Outlook Club, a local women’s group that initiated the memorial project by holding an ice cream and bake sale to raise funds. The Scarborough Soldiers' and Sailors' Association was formed and the ladies held fundraising fairs and entertainments around town.

The monument was erected at a cost of $2,500: local donors and proceeds from fundraisers contributed $1,500 and the town gave $1,000. By the time of the dedication, the monument recognized not only Civil War soldiers, but also those who served in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Augustus Moulton persuaded the Good Templars to move their meeting place from the site where the monument was to be erected to its present site next to the Dunstan Fire Station and the Scarborough Historical Society. It is now the Gov. William King Masonic Lodge.

Nearly 100 years after the monument’s dedication, the town and State Department of Transportation announced plans to reconfigure the busy intersection next to the monument, necessitating its relocation.

At a 2011 town hearing residents weighed in with their opinions and the message was clear — for historical reasons and tradition, don’t move the monument. Plans were changed and the Soldiers’ Monument remained in its original location at the corner of Broadturn Road and Route 1 in Dunstan.