Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Would Not Surrender The Symbols of Pride

The 16th Maine Infantry was organized in Augusta, Maine and was mustered into service August 14th 1862, for a term of three years.

The 16th Maine Infantry was organized with Colonel Charles W Tilden as its commander.  They were mustered into Union service August 14th 1862 and arrived in Washington, DC a few days later.  They went into active duty immediately in Maryland.  The 16th was assigned to General John Gibbon’s Division of the First Corps. 

The first action for this regiment was at the Battle of Fredericksburg, where they had 427 men present, losing 27 killed, 170 wounded and 34 missing.  The next time the men of the 16th saw heavy fighting as the Battle of Gettysburg, where the 16th went in with 248 officers and men and ended the battle with 2 officers and 15 men able to report for duty.  They saved their flags as the Confederates closed in on the men on July 1st 1863 by tearing up the colors into small pieces.  As Abner Small of the 16th said, “For a few last moments our little regiment defended angrily its hopeless challenge, but it was useless to fight longer.  We looked at our colors, and our faces burned. We must not surrender those symbols of our pride and our faith."  The men hid the pieces on their person there by depriving the Confederates of capturing the flags.  In March 1864 the 16th was transferred to the Union Fifth Corps, serving in General Samuel W Crawford’s Division.  The men would see hard fighting at the Battles of Spotsylvania, Hatcher’s Run and others.

During the three years of service 1,907 men served in the 16th Maine.  They had 181 killed in battle or die of wounds.  578 men were wounded in action.  259 of the 16th died from disease.  76 good men of Maine would die in Confederate prison of war camps.

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