|Kim MacIsaac (5th Maine Director) and Herb Adams|
For those living in the latter half of the 19th century, April 12th on the calendar conjured up as many images and emotions as December 7th and September 11th have for those of us living in the 20th and 21st century, respectively.
Historian, former State Representative, and lecturer Herb Adams reminded an overflowing crowd at the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum that one hundred and fifty years ago today, Portland circled around "Market Square" (see below) rather than "Monument Square." On April 10th, 1861, the Civil War had not yet started. More than 70,000 men had not yet left from Maine to serve in the war.
|Herb Adams lectures on his "Day by Day" project at 5th Maine|
|When Monument Square was Market Square|
Four years later, close to 10,000 of these soldiers had lost their lives in battle or to disease, giving Maine the highest per capita loss of any other state in New England and creating the need to memorialize the dead with monuments such as the one that renamed Market Square as Monument Square.
Herb Adams' lectured on his "Civil War Day by Day" project - a research and e-access project on two, politically-opposing Portland newspapers, the Eastern Argus and the Portland Advertiser. One of Adams' startling discoveries was that Lincoln's future assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was performing in a Shakespeare play here in Portland in April of 1861.
Since December 3rd of 1860 the "Victorian internet" had arrived in Maine. Washington and Portland were in telegraphic connection for the very first time. Four months later, Maine would learn of the Confederate firing on Fort Sumter, South Carolina with surprising speed. John Wilkes Booth would have read about the start of the war here in Portland. Adams commented that "The facts were always there, buried in Portland’s newspapers. The newspapers are keepers of the memories of their times." Now that Adams has restored this chapter in history, it has been quoted in a new biography of the Booth family, “My Thoughts be Bloody.”