War Reminiscences of the Bethel Company, Company I, Fifth Maine Regiment [Number 15]


War Reminiscences of the Bethel Company, Company I, Fifth Maine Regiment [Number 15]


Bethel News, Vol. 2, No. 46


April 14, 1897



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Company I, Fifth Maine Regiment.

By Col. Clark S. Edwards

number xv

Feb. 26, 1864, found the Sixth Corps in line moving towards Robertson River via Culpepper C. H. The second day from our camp near the Hazel, we arrived at a place within three miles of Madison C. H., a distance of twenty-eight miles, where we remained one day and two nights, then returning to our old camp between the Hazel and Rappahannock remaining there until May 3, '64, in quiet camp life.

Now commences the Grant campaign of '64. We thought we had seen hard service under McLellan, Burnside, Hooker and Meade, but what we endured under these commanders was mere boy's play compared with the fifty-one days ending June 23rd. We broke camp at the Hazel River May 3rd, and moved on by Brandy Station and crossed the Rapidan at Germania Ford. After marching toward "The Wilderness" about four miles, we bivouacked for the night. Early the next morning we were in line and moving towards the enemy, with whom we exchanged a few shots from the batteries. Soon the musketry was heard and then we knew that Grant was "stirring them up." We were ordered forward and soon after passing an open field, we entered the ever renowned Wilderness where we met the enemy in force. The fight soon became general and our brigade was fully engaged. It was at this time that my good and true friend, Col. Edward Carroll of the 95th Pennsylvania, fell, shot through the head. His picture, now lying before me, carries me back to those days when we attended court at Gen. Bartlett's headquarters, near New Baltimore in the Old Dominion.

We soon succeeded in driving the enemy back, and soon after dark established a picket on our front, and the boys supped on hard-tack and corned beef; no coffee could be made as the fires would have betrayed us. Our men were soon asleep with muskets loaded and capped beside them, ready for a night attack, but fortunately we obtained a good night's rest.

The morning of the 6th found us on the alert, ready to meet the enemy again. The forenoon wore away slowly, also one half the afternoon before we were aware that the enemy were coming around our right flank, right flanking us. In doing this they captured nearly the whole of the 3rd Div. of the 6th Corps, one hundred or more from the 1st Div., and a few from our brigade; about one hundred from the 121st N. Y. were taken prisoners.

Gen. Upton was then in command and was greatly excited not knowing which way to look for Rebs, as those who captured the 3rd Div. moved around our right flank and came up in our rear and "bagged their game." He rode up to me and said, "Keep on the lookout, while I go and see Gen. Sedgwick." As soon as he left I passed around our right and ordered the rear ranks of the brigade to face to the rear, be vigilant, and watch every movement.

The brushwood was so thick, we could see only a few rods. This was the first and last time I saw a line of battle facing both ways. Upton returned to his command a half hour later, and our next order was to take a new position on our right, across a turnpike leading to our rear; the same route Gen. Early took when he captured our 3rd Div.; and let me say here, that this Div. was not a portion of the old 6th but was assigned to it a day or two before, and was largely made up of new troops. The battle still waged heavily, the musketry was deafening and the old 6th Corps of other days was there still fighting; they drove the enemy back over the turnpike and recaptured the works the enemy had built the day before, and our lines were extended beyond the works, and that portion was driven back again, but soon a brigade from the 1st Div. "lent a hand," and the Rebs were driven still farther back. It was now dark, but the rattle of musketry was still heard all along the line.

It soon quieted down, and the boys were allowed to boil their coffee for the first time since breaking camp on the Hazel. During the night our Corps moved on to the Gordonville plank road and entrenched ready to receive the enemy, and remained here through Saturday, May 7th. But little fighting was done this day, and none by our own brigade. The battle of the Wilderness had been fought, and neither side could claim the victory. It was the first "round" between the champion fighters, Lee and Grant, and according to present ruling would be called "a draw."


Corporal Levi Shedd was mustered into the service Nov. 4, 1861. Early in January 1862, he joined the Bethel Company remaining with us till June 23, 1864, when he was transposed to the 1st Maine Veterans. Corporal Shedd was a native of Norway. For sometime before the war, he worked for Newton Swift of this village. His war record is one of which he and his friends have reason to be proud. He was ever ready to go where duty called, performing deeds of heroism on many battlefields. He was severely wounded in the terrible charge at Spotsylvania Court House, May 10, 1864. Since the war he has lived nearly thirty years at Gorham, N. H. where he has enjoyed the respect and esteem of his fellow citizens. He was fortunate in settling in a community where the public could appreciate his noble works, as he was honored by the best offices in the gift of his townsmen, and later by some of the highest in Coos County. A year or two ago he moved back to Maine, locating near his boyhood home at West Paris.


Another soldier deserving special mention in these articles is Enoch Whitmore Jr., son of Enoch Whitmore, of Paris. Sergeant Whitmore was one of the members from Bryant's Pond that joined the Bethel Company at Camp Preble, Portland, June 22, 1861.

He was a model soldier—none better. He was in every battle in which the Fifth Maine Regiment was engaged, from Bull Run to Petersburg—an exceptional record, for his regiment participated in as many battles as any regiment in the service.

Sergeant Whitmore was wounded in three different battles, though he never left his company for the hospital. He was continually in the field, even the last hour of his term of service, which ended June 23, 1864, on the south side of the Weldon R. R. beyond Petersburg. His record from first to last is one that sheds luster upon the bravery and patriotism of Maine's soldiers. Since the war, Sergeant Whimore has lived at West Paris the greater part of the time, where he has followed his trade of blacksmithing.

He has filled different positions of trust and honor at the hands of his fellow townsmen. A few years ago he moved to Fayette. Kennebec County, where he now resides.


Isaac W. Estes, son of Isaac Estes, born in E. Bethel in 1838, enlisted in the Bethel Company in May 1861, and was mustered into the U. S. service the 23rd of June following. He remained with the company until November and was discharged for disability. He reenlisted in the 20th Maine, August 19, 1862, and was promoted sergeant. He died of wounds received at Little Round Top, Gettysburg, Penn., July 2, 1863.