August 30, 1862
Samuel Fessenden, of Portland, enlisted in 1861 as a Lieutenant with the 2nd Maine Battery. In the summer of 1862, he became aide-de-camp to General Zealous Tower.
During the Second Battle of Bull Run (Manassas,) Tower, a brigade commander, issued orders for his men – regiments from Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New York – to move forward and into the fight.
On horseback, Fessenden took the lead to show the advancing soldiers where to go. As he gestured, bullets struck his horse, first, and then him.
Gen. Tower, nearby, was also hit.
Lt. Fessenden was taken to a field hospital in nearby Centreville, Virginia, where Union Dr. J.C. McKee told him that his wound was fatal.
Fessenden, McKee reported, replied: "Very well, it is all right."
Maine Adjutant General John Hodsdon, later wrote that Dr. McKee "remarked that he never saw in any person a more perfect example of heroic courage and fortitude."
Fessenden, 21, died the next day and was buried in Centreville.
He did not remain there long.
Learning of Samuel’s death, his father, U.S. Senator from Maine William Pitt Fessenden, sent a cousin to retrieve the body.
Upon recovering from his wounds, General Tower wrote to Hodsdon about Fessenden.
"He was ever ready for duty, possessed a cool head, and a brave heart, and shrank from no exposure," Gen. Tower writes.
Samuel was the youngest of Fessenden’s sons. Like his father and his older brothers, James and Francis, Samuel graduated from Bowdoin College. And, like James and Francis, he entered the military.
Francis enlisted in the 19th U.S. Infantry Regiment and shortly thereafter became a Colonel of the 25th Maine Infantry Regiment.
James recruited and joined a regiment of U.S. Sharpshooters.
The two older brothers would reach the rank of Brigadier General, would survive the war, and would return to Portland and share a law practice.
Samuel did not.
Hodsdon, in his Annual Report writes, "Future generations will drop the tear of sympathy upon the untimely grave of this youthful patriot and hero."