Richard H. Tucker, Jr.
December 7, 1861
At 65, Richard Tucker considered himself to be too old to serve in the Union Army in 1861, but that did not stop him from thinking of how he might help Maine’s Civil War effort – even if it meant bringing some business to him and his Town.
Tucker, a shipmaster, was the chairman of the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen.
Late in 1861, knowing that Maine was about to send soldiers and animals to Washington, Tucker and the Wiscasset Board voted to appeal to Governor Israel Washburn with a transportation alternative.
Rather than have Maine’s 1st Cavalry Regiment travel overland, or use the railroad near the regiment’s Augusta encampment, Tucker and the Selectmen proposed that the men and horses march 23 miles south from the state capital to Wiscasset, where they could board ships on the Sheepscot River and travel by boat.
"This place could be reached in one days march, from Augusta," Tucker writes to the Governor.
And, as an inducement, he adds, "We have abundant supply of Hay & Corn."
Tucker knew that boats were also readily available because Wiscasset prior to 1860 was a center for shipbuilding and fishing.
Despite the approaching winter weather, Tucker also knew that the tidal and salt water Sheepscot River would not freeze over.
He reminds Gov. Washburn that, "and as you are aware, there is no obstruction on account of ice during the severest weather."
From Wiscasset, the transport ships could head downriver 16 miles to Merrymeeting Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, and then on to Portland, Boston and Washington.
Despite Wiscasset’s offer, the cavalry regiment did not begin their journey to Washington from Wiscasset.
- What would be some reasons for or against the Town of Wiscasset asking to have the cavalry regiment embark from there?
- Did any of Maine’s military units embark from Wiscasset?
- What type of transport ship would be required by the military – steam or sail or either?
- Discuss the field of geography in relation to military decisions.