December 19, 1860
Davis Tillson, of Rockland, filed his final annual report as Adjutant General with Maine Governor Lot Morrill in December, 1860.
With the nation tense following the recent elections, Tillson may have been looking ahead in commenting on Maine’s militia. Originally, all able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 45 were to enroll in their local militia company. By 1860, that organization had broken down. Tillson tried to re-organize the system. He remarks that, "We have at least, the skeleton of an organization that may be filled out and expanded without difficulty or inconvenience to meet the requirements of the future." He adds that "There are at present only thirty six organized military companies in the State. And but very few of them, at all, answer the purposes for which they were designed … Most of them have but a fitful and uncertain life, resulting in nothing but vexation and annoyance to their members." (2204-0317)
Incoming Adjutant General, John Hodsdon in his 1861 annual report verified the militia’s poor condition "The bombardment of Fort Sumter at Charleston, on the twelfth of April last, by those who should have been its defenders, found Maine as little prepared to furnish troops for maintaining the integrity of the Union as it is possible to conceive. With an enrolled but unarmed militia of some sixty thousand men, no more than twelve hundred, and these merely paper organizations, were in a condition to respond to calls for ordinary duty within the State, in emergencies contemplated by the constitution, while their uniforms, equipments and camp equipage were of a character totally unfitted for service in the field."
Maine relied upon the few organized militia companies to form the first regiments at the beginning of the war. The companies came from cities such as Portland, Lewiston and Auburn, and Bangor, and smaller towns like Milo, Castine, Norway, Bath, and Brooks.
Tillson became Captain of the 2nd Maine Battery, 1st Maine Mounted Light Artillery. He eventually rose to the rank of brigadier general of volunteers in 1863, and helped organize regiments of colored troops. After the war, he was head of the Freedman's Bureau in Tennessee, and later in Georgia. He later returned to Rockland, where he opened a granite quarry on Hurricane Island.
- Does Maine have a militia now?
- How is it organized?
- What duties does it fulfill?