KINGFIELD — In 1863, two years into the American Civil War, the U.S. Congress passed the Civil War Military Draft Act to gain manpower for the Union Army. The draft spurred riots throughout the Union states, most notably in New York City.

But the anti-draft sentiment was felt in Maine as well.

In opposition to receiving draft notices, a group of Kingfield residents launched a protest that spanned several days in July 1863 — the only rebellion against the draft in Maine, according to published reports. The events became known as the Kingfield Rebellion of 1863.

While the rebellion was put down without injuries or fatalities, the event stands as a notable part of Kingfield’s history and will be re-enacted this weekend as part of Kingfield Festival Days and the town’s bicentennial events.

“My impression is that ‘rebellion’ was sort of an exaggerated term given to something that was really moderate and tame,” said Paul Mills, a Farmington resident and local historian. “But it’s a reminder that throughout the North there were several civil wars going on. … There were a lot of unsettling feelings throughout the North and Union states.”

This weekend, the events of the rebellion will come out of the history books and into present-day Kingfield as re-enactors set up camp downtown to play out the historic uprising.


“People have been talking about this for months,” said Tammy Goldfrank, the bicentennial committee chairwoman. “It is really neat.”

Beginning Saturday morning, the re-enactors will set up camp at a tent village just south of downtown on Main Street, across from the Mountain Village Bed and Breakfast. The public is encouraged to visit the re-enactors’ encampment, though the soldiers also will be around town during the Kingfield Days parade on Saturday in period uniforms and clothing.

On Sunday, the re-enactors will take to the grassy area in front of the post office on Depot Street around 10 a.m. for the rebellion re-enactment.

While Kingfield Festival Days is held annually, many of the events this year have a historic emphasis as a nod to the town’s 200th anniversary celebration. With this year’s theme of the annual parade being Kingfield Characters Past and Present, the Herbert Grand Hotel holding an Old Kingfield Memorabilia contest, open hours at the Kingfield Historical Society and a history fair display at Webster Hall, residents attending this year’s Kingfield Festival Days celebration will get a history lesson as well.

Kingfield Festival Days organizer Dianne Christen said that while not all residents might have been aware of the scope of the town’s history, the events of the yearlong bicentennial celebration are doing a good job of bringing the past to the present.

“I think the history is something that they are realizing now,” Christen said.


Bicentennial events so far have resonated with residents, both Christen and Goldfrank said, praising the success of the school history fair in April. For five weeks leading up to the fair, students in kindergarten through eighth grade researched topics related to Kingfield’s history and worked with longtime residents of the town to create historical displays.

“The history of Kingfield is kind of tucked away in the locals’ attics, and only about 50 percent of people that live in Kingfield now are the true older locals,” Goldfrank said.

While Goldfrank said some residents are hesitant to bring out the pieces of history that they have stored away, the outpouring of information from townspeople to help with the history fair was “incredible.”

“The best thing that happened was the schoolwide history fair,” Goldfrank said. “The elderly came out and helped (students) share stories. … It was such a wonderful surprise for me. They put their heart and souls into it.”

A number of bicentennial events are planned to take place through the end of the year. Goldfrank said that over the three years that the bicentennial committee has been planning events for the town’s 200th birthday, so many different ideas were conceived that it became clear a yearlong celebration was necessary.

“There was such enthusiasm and so many ideas, and the only way we could do things was spread them out,” Goldfrank said.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate

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