Harbor Park spruced up for 20th Maine encampment
Camden — Camden's Harbor park will be transported back in time Aug. 22-24 as the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Company B will set up an encampment, capping off a month-long celebration of Maine's contribution to the Union's victory in the Civil War.
The visit by Company B to Camden is part of the "Maine and the Civil War" series hosted by Camden Public Library.
Leading up to the event, members of the community have volunteered to help with preparations for their upcoming visit.
“This is going to be pretty exciting to see happen,” said Owen Casas. “I'm glad I can help out by doing my part.”
Casas, a veteran, was at Harbor Park in the beginning of August and cleaned the well-known Soldier's Monument so it would be ready for the 20th Maine and to provide a little TLC to the aging statue.
Parks Director Dave Jackson said Casas' request to clean the statue could have not come at a better time as the park will be full of people the weekend of Aug. 23. He said the very fact that the statue honors some of those who fought in the civil war tied in perfectly to the library's series.
Company B, 20th Maine, is a living history group dedicated to preserving the memory of Maine Civil War volunteers. The original Company B was mustered into the 20th Regiment, Maine Volunteer Infantry in August 1862, in time to march to Antietam with the Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac. The re-enactors of Company B will present demonstrations, drills, and living history.
"Our hours on Saturday will be opening camp at 9 a.m. and closing camp at 5 p.m. — that said, we welcome the public to come and visit after hours, and to sit by the fire and talk, sing 60s songs (1860s!), or just chew the fat as long as they wish," said Lieutenant Paul D. Dudley, 20th Maine Vol. Inf. Co.B., Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, in a press release.
"We don't have a set full day schedule for Saturday — it's usually flexible with attendance at the time, but here is a rough schedule of what we expect to be doing: 9 a.m. camp opens; 9:15 a.m. roll call; 9:30 a.m. post colors; 9:30 a.m. - 10 a.m. weapons safety check, manual of arms, stack arms; 10 a.m. - 11 a.m. Living History, displays, music, mini-lectures by various re-enactors; 11 a.m. - 12 p.m. Child recruitment, Join the Union Army!; 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. dinner; 1 p.m. - 2 p.m. Manual of Arms, Stacking of Arms, firing drill; 2 p.m. - 3 p.m. Child recruitment; 3 p.m. - 5 p.m. Living History; 5 p.m. supper.
"Camp will remain open to the public into the evening. No set schedule. Sunset, furl the colors."
The historical Company B, commanded by Walter G. Morrill, had been recruited in Piscataquis County, among the farmers of Dover, Milo and Sebec. At Gettysburg, Company B was sent out as skirmishers by Col. Joshua Chamberlain to protect the regiment's exposed left flank. Posted behind a stone wall, the Company was too far away to participate in the initial fight, but was instrumental in routing the fleeing Confederates, its sudden appearance adding to the Rebel confusion. Company B was with the 20th in all its battles, from the wilderness to Petersburg to Appomattox. Capt. Walter Morrill, became the regiment's last commander in March 1865.
In a related presentation, author Jerry Desmond will give an illustrated talk on "Turning the Tide at Gettysburg: How Maine Saved the Union," the title of his new book due out in September. Through maps and photographs, Desmond details, location by location around the battlefield, the heroic actions of the volunteer regiments from Maine, at the library at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23.
The present-day re-enactment group is made up of men and women from eastern, central, and southern Maine, even Canada, and as far north as Aroostook county.
"We are people from various walks of life. We have school teachers, an aircraft pilot, a lawyer, and self-employed contractors. We all share a fascination in the Civil War, and a great interest in 'learning by doing'. While we strive to be as 'authentic' as possible in our Civil War impressions, our main goal is to provide our members and the public with activities that are enjoyable, educational and above all, safe," the press release states.
Dwight Collins is a reporter/photographer for The Camden Herald.
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