Moses B. Lakeman
May 9, 1863
Colonel Moses B. Lakeman, of Augusta, was a 33 year-old butcher in civilian life. He enlisted April 29, 1861, in the 3rd Maine Infantry Regiment as a captain, was promoted first to Lieut. Colonel, and then to Colonel.
He gives an extensive account of the battle of Chancellorsville, and of the actions of the 3rd Maine.
Lakeman's 3rd Maine regiment was at the center of the Union's front line on May 1, and successfully charged the first and second lines of Confederate earthworks (mounds of dirt put up as a boundary to protect the infantry and cannons).
The regiment also succeeded in reopening lines of communication with the 12th Army Corps, which had been previously cut off by the Confederates.
The 3rd Maine remained in the center of the line until the end of the battle.
Of his regiment's performance Lakeman writes "God bless them, they never flinched, but pressed onward under a most galling line of infantry and artillery, and gave back round for round, though the odds were against us."
He also writes that he "does not neglect to give a sigh for those gallant and daring spirits cut down..." and specifically names a fellow Augusta resident, 1st Lieut. Warren Cox. Cox was 28 years old.
Lakeman writes that, "The conduct of the Regiment in the front centre and rear was admirable, for we were assailed on all points…"
The battle of Chancellorsville was a fifth attempt by the Union Army to move on and capture the Confederate capital of Richmond. It failed.
Fighting at Chancellorsville lasted for four days, until, on May 5, the Union troops retreated across the Rappahannock River.
The 3rd Maine suffered 65 casualties in the battle, according to Col. Lakeman. Many of them were listed as "missing."
- Lakeman reports that the 3rd Maine faced a rebel charge "five times their number." Yet the historical consensus is that Lee's army was outnumbered 2 to 1. How does a soldier's position in a battle affect his perception?
- How would the 3rd Maine, laden down with rifles and swords, have scaled earthwork walls, and secured their position?
- Lakeman writes that one of the things they managed to do was reopen the line of communication with the 12th Army Corps. Why is it important to keep the lines of communication open during battles?
- How did officers communicate with each other during battles?
- Four days is a long time for a single regiment to be constantly fighting. Why might the 3rd Maine have remained at the front the entire time?