Co. A, 3rd Maine

Regt. Vol. Inf.


Unit History
and Roster


Field Music


Event Calendar




How to Join



Corp identification patch carried by 3rd Maine soldier E. W. Sanborne.






A Brief History of the 3rd Maine

         On June 4, 1861, the Bath City Grays, one of the more active Maine militia units, was mustered into federal service as part of the 3rd Maine Infantry Regiment. They formed all of Company A and most of Company D. The majority of the men were tradesmen, shipwrights, shopkeepers, and artisans, while the rest of the unit came from towns up and down the Kennebec River--Gardiner, Hallowell, Augusta, Winthrop, Waterville, Winslow, and Skowhegan. The unit encamped on the grounds of Capitol Park, directly in front of the Maine statehouse and overlooking the Kennebec River. The Regiment was commanded by Col. Oliver O. Howard from Leeds, Maine, who went on to serve as a general during the war. Howard was the head of the Freedmen's Bureau after the war. (Howard University is named after him.) The 3rd Maine first "saw the elephant" (a Civil War term meaning one's first time in battle) at the first battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, and during the next three years was engaged in 25 major battles, including the Peninsular Campaign, Second Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania. There were many smaller skirmishes as well, and by June of 1864 the greatly reduced 3rd Maine found most of its men had served their three years. Sixty-four of the original men re-enlisted and they, along with the replacement recruits, were transferred to the 17th Maine at Cold Harbor just before the awful slaughter there. When the 17th Maine Infantry mustered out of service on June 10, 1865, several veterans of the original 3rd Maine had served four years and one week.

       The camp of the 3rd Maine, September, 1861.

        From March 1862 to early April 1864 the 3rd Maine served in the 1st Division of the Third Corps attached to the Army of the Potomac. When Gen. Daniel Butterfield followed up on an idea of Gen. Philip Kearny and developed the Union Army's corps badge insignias in 1863, the 3rd Maine men began attaching the red diamond-shaped fabric pieces to their caps. Shortly after Gen. Grant assumed command of all Union armies in March of 1864, the decimated Third Corps was disbanded and the 3rd Maine joined the reorganized Second Corps. It was while serving with the Third Corps that the 3rd Maine experienced what was probably its most difficult day. On the morning of July 2, 1863, 196 enlisted men and 14 officers reported for duty with the Regiment, which was positioned near the left of the Union line running south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. (About 1000 men had left Maine with the Regiment in the summer of 1861.) Ordered to reconnoiter the Confederate positions in front of the Third Corps, the 3rd Maine, along with about 100 Berdan Sharpshooters, encountered and skirmished with Confederates in Pitzer's woods during the morning. Several 3rd Maine men were killed or wounded. Later that day, after Third Corps commander Gen. Daniel Sickles ordered the entire corps to move forward and take an unsupported position well in front of the main Union line, the 3rd Maine found itself, along with three other regiments from different brigades, in an exposed line of battle near the Peach Orchard. In the fight with attacking Confederates of Gen. James Longstreet's corps which soon followed, the men of the 3rd Maine fought desperately and were nearly surrounded before they were forced to give ground. The entire color guard company, Co. K, many of whom came from Leeds, was killed or captured. The 3rd Maine, along with the other regiments in the vicinity of the Peach Orchard and Wheat Field, helped to delay the Confederate advance and buy time for the Union Army to reinforce its left flank and defeat the attack. That evening 97 3rd Maine men were present to answer the roll call.

3rd Maine Regimental Roster

More 3rd Maine History
Third Maine Regiment Volunteer Infantry:  Time-Line with Historical Information, by Craig Young  (PDF, 48 pages!)
Maine State Archives Record
Historical Sketch of the Third Maine Regt., by Col. Moses B. Lakeman  (history though 1862, PDF)
After Action Report, Battle of Gettysburg, by Col. Moses B. Lakeman  (PDF)
Selected photographs of 3rd Maine Officers
Lt. Charles T. Watson, quartermaster of the Third Maine
Regt., and his trunk