SKOWHEGAN — Of the 294 men from Skowhegan who went off to fight in the Civil War, 85 of them never returned.

Among the soldiers who did come back to raise a family in Skowhegan was Lt. Alexander Crawford Jr., according to historian Lee Granville, curator of the Skowhegan History House Museum & Research Center, Wednesday night during a gathering in the Civil War Memorial Room at the Skowhegan Free Public Library.

The call to arms went out in Skowhegan in April 1861, with word of the war arriving via telegraph and being posted in the center of town, Granville said. The Skowhegan Company left in June, and by July 21 was engaged in the Battle of Bull Run, called the First Battle of Manassas by the Confederates.

“They drilled and trained right here on the streets of Skowhegan, without a great deal of military training” he said. “Many of them paid the price for that ignorance.”

Granville said Crawford was a soldier in the 21st Maine Regiment and later commander of Company G of the 31st Maine Volunteers. He grew up on a farm off Dudley Corner Road and corresponded with a girl from New Sharon, whom he finally married after the war.

“The girl’s name was Lucinda Fletcher,” Granville said. “They had one child. His name was Eugene, and he became an engineer for the city of Waterville.”

Eugene moved out West, where he and his wife had a son, Earle — the last in the Alexander Crawford line. That man came to Skowhegan in 1998 and donated a collection of letters from the Civil War, along with his grandfather’s Union uniform and other items he had carried onto the battlefield.

Among the letters were several to the girl in New Sharon.

“They corresponded all through the war,” he said. “He said that he had been thinking that he’d like to get to know her a lot better and then he said if she would be willing, he would like to marry her.”

She was.

After donating his grandfather’s Civil War belongings, Earle Crawford returned to the Midwest and died a year after his visit to Skowhegan, Granville said.

Doug Harlow — 474-9534

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