Date of Award

5-2014

Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Advisor

Richard W. Judd

Second Committee Member

Stephen Miller

Third Committee Member

Liam Riordan

Abstract

The history of the Civil War handed down through the past 150 years is mostly a vestige of a more complex story. Soldiers' stories were given places of honor that were literally carved in granite, while other themes eroded away. A similar process is visible in the landscape of Mount Desert Island, where granite stumps of mountaintops are all that remain after millennia of glacial scouring. Time has also worn away much of the Civil War story. By exploring the stories of six individuals, this thesis attempts to recover perspectives of the Civil War that were never recorded or have been forgotten.

The common memory of the war is most often told at a larger scale, at the regimental level or higher, and is usually viewed from a male perspective - particularly that of brave men who fought valiantly to save the Union. This thesis considers a wider range of perspectives, though at a much smaller scale, at the level of the individual human living within his or her community. This history of the Civil War creates a collective biography to examine the effects of the war on the people of an island community. The perspectives examined include cavalry soldier John M. Gilley (1819- 1864), wife and mother Emily Savage (1834-1914), soldier and deserter Albert F. Salisbury (1842-?), sea captain and merchant Thaddeus S. Somes (1839-1913), naval officer Augustus "Chase" Savage (1832-1911), and heavy artillery soldier-turned infantryman James M. Parker (1841-1864), all ordinary citizens swept up in an inexorable conflict.

The war removed most of the young men from small villages, either to enlist or flee the draft. Those who enlisted were subjected to long absences and the perils of disease, wounding, capture, or death. Many entered the army with an abundance of patriotism that was quickly exchanged for bitter disillusionment. Of those who did not return, many families never learned what happened to them. Women were left to manage businesses as well as to raise children, care for the infirm and elderly, nurse soldiers who were home on furlough, and navigate a social and commercial world that was previously the province only of men.

Though Maine is commonly remembered as a state that was staunchly in favor of the Lincoln administration's war policies, a significant minority opposed the war, sometimes violently. Anti-war newspapers voiced their opposition until their presses were destroyed or they were forced out of business. Thousands of Maine men fled the state to avoid the draft, and neighbors turned on each other, reporting to the authorities on the whereabouts of draft dodgers and deserters in their midst. Young men who could afford to purchase an exemption for $300 or hire a substitute for $700 or more, also paid a price in social standing, a permanent division between them and their boyhood friends who served, a gulf between their families and those of men who died in the service. This thesis attempts to recover a local history that has been lost.

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