November 14, 1862
Colonel Edward Scamman, of Portland, believed that the junior officers of his 5th Maine Infantry Regiment were restless. Having been promoted through the ranks to become regimental commander, Scammon shared their uneasiness and their aspirations and decided to act upon them.
In November, 1862, Col. Scamman writes to Governor Israel Washburn seeking approval – and a little political assistance – to have the regiment go to Louisiana with General Nathanial Banks, "… where, Your Excellency may rest assured, the old Fifth Regiment would make a mark for itself, and do credit to the "Old Pine Tree State."
Gen. Banks was headed for New Orleans with 30,000 new volunteer soldiers, where he would replace Gen. Benjamin Butler as the head of the Department of the Gulf.
Col. Scammon and his command group thought that the 5th Maine could help. The regiment had participated at the First Battle of Bull Run, in 1861, and was active in the Peninsula Campaign, fighting at Gaines Mill and Malvern, in the summer of 1862, and then at Cramptons Gap and Antietam, in September.
By Col. Scamman’s reasoning, the Maine could assist Gen. Banks, a former Congressman and Governor of Massachusetts, who would be leading untested men into battle.
"The troops under General Banks, I presume, will be monthly new and a regiment, such as the Fifth, would I think, without a doubt, have a renewed opportunity and would improve the same to distinguish themselves," Scamman explains to Gov. Washburn.
The request to have the 5th Maine reassigned needed more help than Gov. Washburn could provide.
Israel Washburn had served in Congress with Banks, and knew that he was highly regarded by President Lincoln. Col. Scamman was not seeking Gov. Washburn’s approval to become part of Gen. Banks’ army so much as he was asking Washburn to intercede with the President, Banks, and the U.S. Department of War to have the 5th Maine moved under Gen. Banks’ command.
The ploy failed. The 5th Maine remained in Maryland and Virginia, and would take part in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
- What help could Israel Washburn have given to Scammon?
- Was the officer corps of the regiment smart in asking for the Governor’s help?