DO YOU KNOW THE 11 SONS OF ROCKLAND WHO WERE SHARPSHOOTERS AT GETTYSBURG?
Rockland goes to war, Civil War that is by Chris Wolf
PENOBSCOT BAY PILOT
Friday, May 3, 2013 - 6:30pm
Captain Dave Sulin dressed in the traditional uniform of the U.S. Sharpshooters. Called "Green Demons" by the Confederate soldiers. In the Union Army they were called "pickles." Rockland- The Rockland Public Library and the Rockland Historical Society featured Captain Dave Sulin speaking about the Union Sharpshooters from Rockland who fought at Gettysburg. The talk held in the Friends Room of the Rockland Public Library April 30, hosted a small crowd who listened intently to Sulin describe the sharpshooter's history and role in the battle of Gettysburg in an informative and animated way.
“At the outbreak of the Civil War, when Ft. Sumter was fired upon, the U.S. had 14,000 soldiers," said Sulin. "That’s the police force of New York City.”
Since this year is the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and the turning point of the Civil War, the Rockland Historical Society has joined with museums throughout the State of Maine to create the Maine Civil War Trail. All museums on the Maine Civil War Trail has significant Civil War collections, which will be on display five days a week during July and August.
Sulin told of the 11 sons of Rockland, who served under the command of Captain Jacob McClure, also of Rockland. Sulin told of the marksmanship required, the unique equipment, unusual tactics, and the deadly efficiency of the “Green Demons” as they were called because of their green uniforms. On the afternoon of July 2, 1863, 169 expert marksmen of the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters faced 7,375 Confederates in a desperate struggle at the Battle of Gettysburg. Company D was made up of 27 exceptional marksmen recruited from the State of Maine.
Sons of Rockland
1. Capt. Jacob McClure
2. John E. Wade
3. Argil D. Morse
4. Edward Crockett
5. Barzilla B. Bragg
6. John Jameson
7. Edward Lindsey
8. Charles O. Wentworth
9. Henry Brown
10. James M. Pendleton
11. John M. Wilson
Sulin has been enthralled by the Civil War since an early age and has sailed all over the world as a merchant mariner for 42 years. Sulin has always been fascinated with artifacts, photographs and participants of the Civil War. He makes frequent visits to Civil War Battlefields, has done extensive research and participated in Civil War reenactments.
“There was a monument to the 4th Maine that was unofficial,” said Sulin. “I had read about it in some of the old Grand Army of the Republic notes. There was an official one, but the unofficial one I found had cows on the land and was surrounded by barbed wire and covered in heavy brush. So over the fence I went and I found this boulder. That boulder was done after the war by one of the veterans from Rockland, who went down by train. He was a stone cutter, and he took his tools with him. It was before the other monument was erected and he wanted to make sure before he died that there was something there.”
Sulin visits Gettysburg Park every spring and takes 10 students from the Riley school with him. There, they immerse themselves in the experiences of the Maine soldiers who fought there.
“Next week I’m taking 10 ten-year-olds from the Riley School down there, just like I do every year, and their parents would probably have heart attacks if they knew what I do, but I put them on lookout for the rangers," he said. "I take red and white chalk with me and on that boulder I fill in the letters in nice white chalk and the diamond in red. That was their core badge, a red diamond with 4th ME in white letters at the time.... I’m not sure they can arrest me for that because I’m not defacing a park monument, because they had insisted to me that there was no such monument down there, but I had known about it since I was 15.”
Sulin said the park insisted there is not a monument there, even after he cut away some of the brush and improvements had been made to the area. But it was still hard to find unless you were looking for it.
“If you go up onto Devil’s Den and you look down where the 4th Maine Regiment’s monument is and you look out at Little Round Top there’s just kind of a flash of red and white that will jump out at you," he said.
Sulin said he was shocked when he saw in a park magazine about the discovery of the monument.
“About a year and a half ago I saw in a park magazine where a ranger had written about how he had discovered, and when he said he had discovered it in early May, well I know how he had discovered it," said Sulin. "He was up on Little Round Top and it was all bright red and white and filled in. Of course he discovered it. I laughed, it didn’t matter to me. Now it’s all open, the road comes down by it and in a week and a half we’ll be putting a wreath there.”
Sulin wore the uniform of a captain of the U.S. Sharpshooters and displayed photographs and artifacts from his personal collection, including three of the types of rifles used by the sharpshooters during the war, a backpack typical of the regiment, ammunition cases and photographs of many of the sharpshooters from Maine.
This article captures very little of the sharpshooters history as presented by Sulin. If you ever get the chance, you should listen to him talk. He is more then a wealth of knowledge about the Civil War. Ann Morris, curator for the Rockland Historical Society, said Sulin was the society’s most enthusiastic Civil War buff.
“He the most enthusiastic in all of Rockland,” she said. “He has uniforms for the kids he’s taking to Gettysburg so they can reenact some of the battles to give the kids the feeling of being there. He’s a sea captain and he makes regular trips to Europe on container ships. He’s gone for three months and then he’s home for three months. He goes to every museum that he possibly can, he is just a wealth of information. It would be a marvelous education to travel with him.”
The Rockland Historical Society will be part of the 150th Anniversary of Gettysburg and part of the Maine Civil War Trail that takes place in July and August. To be part of that trail the Historical Society had to promise to be open five days a week, so they will be open noon to five Monday through Friday during those two months.
“We would love to get one new volunteer a day to join us during those two months,” said Morris.
Chris Wolf can be reached at email@example.com.