LEWISTON – Republican Gov. Paul LePage says 7,600 residents of Maine fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, a claim that is drawing consternation among historians.

The self-described “history buff” made the claim Tuesday on WVOM-FM during a discussion about Civil War monuments. He says Maine residents who fought for the South instead of the North were farmers “concerned about their land, their property.”

Jamie Rice with the Maine Historical Society says, “There’s no way to say he’s right or wrong, but it’s not a number I’d go with.” She says about 72,000 Maine residents fought with the Union Army. An estimated 9,400 Mainers died in the Civil War, according to the Maine Historical Society’s online resource, the Maine Memory Network.

LePage also criticized the media and repeated his claim that newspaper reporters are “pencil terrorists.”

He says, “If I walked across the Kennebec River, the headline would read ‘Governor can’t swim.’ ”

LePage has backed President Trump’s blaming of “both sides” after a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Virginia on Aug. 12.

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