Monday, August 9, 2010

Comics and Confederate Invasion on the Coast

Sallie had no idea that there was so much Civil War history in Maine. Most people think of the battlefields in southern states, but not about the beautiful coastline of Maine. Not only are there Civil War artifacts here, but also battle sites.

Her host, the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum, organized a History Comix Camp for middle schoolers. It was an art and history camp that focused on the real history of piracy and privateering in Casco Bay, Maine. What does privateering have to do with the Civil War? Well, one of the events that she learned about was the "Confederation Invasion of Portland" in 1863.

Despite the fact that the Yankee port boasted three granite masonry forts, a group of Confederate privateers slipped into the harbor and commandeered a merchant vessel called Caleb Cushing. Alas, it didn't end well for the Confederates as they were chased, caught, and imprisoned not too far after leaving the harbor. Nonetheless, they did manage to steal the ship under the noses of a significant defense system and destroy it.

Sallie wanted you to see one of the forts that the Confederate privateers snuck by, Fort Gorges. As it turns out, for some reason this magnificent and newly-built fort was unmanned at the time!

It wasn't the first time that Portland harbor suffered an attack from sea either!

Well, it's time to move on to new places and new stories. Sallie is boarding her own vessel today, a ferry that will take her to Portland where she will fly home.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Which Artifact is Quirkier?

Sallie went to work today as a docent at the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum on Peaks Island. Since a docent's job is to call visitors' attention to things of interest, she decided to share two of her most favorite artifacts at this museum on an island in Maine. Here she is welcoming you as she stands in front of the regiment's original silk flag, recently restored and placed on display.

One of her favorite artifacts sits in an exhibit case constructed by the veterans themselves after they built their reunion/memorial hall (which is now the museum). On these shelves they placed the souvenirs and other items that they brought back from the Civil War battlefields. Using her own flag as a pointer, Sallie wants you to notice that the museum curates one hundred and fifty year old hardtack, a common type of biscuit eaten by soldiers during the Civil War. Yup, these biscuits are 150 years old and have been sitting on this shelf since the veterans put them there. Yucky but cool.

Next she takes you out of the Great Hall and into a small room that once served as a bedroom for vacationing soldiers and their families. Now it's a small gallery. Using her flag as a pointer again, Sallie is showing you the bullet hole in the top of this kepi worn by Adjutant Bicknell of the Fifth Maine. Many, many soldiers perished on the battlefields, but Bicknell was fortunate and survived his bullet hole wound.

So now you can vote - which artifact wins the Quirky Prize?

If you would like to learn more about what goes on at the Fifth Maine, check out Patricia Erikson's blog!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Sallie Follows Fifth Maine Veterans to Peaks Island

Sallie heard a rumor that the veterans of the Fifth Maine Regiment of the Union army had built themselves a summer vacation retreat on an island in Maine. The veterans' wives complained that after years of camping out for reunions in canvas tents, they wanted something more comfortable.

She decided that sounded like an adventure worth pursuing. Off she went and she liked it so much, it turned into an extended stay.

Much to her delight, this Queen Ann style cottage is now a museum, the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum, and it hosts a whole range of fun things to do, especially in the summer time.

Here are some of the campers (left) who are sitting on the very same steps that Civil War veterans posed on for their reunion photo (above). These campers came together for the "Art and History of Treasure Island" camp.

Campers learned about museums, artifacts, and how to make history fun. By the end of the week, campers exhibited their very own collages. Sallie hung out to see the exhibit.