READFIELD — More than 100 people joined a group of Civil War re-enactors to honor the memories of 28 Civil War soldiers buried in the Readfield Corner Cemetery Saturday.

For an hour, the gathered crowd braved temperatures in the 20s as it followed members of the Third Maine Volunteer Infantry around the cemetery. The group stopped at several gravesites to hear about local veterans from Readfield historian Dale Potter-Clark.

The story that stood out to Ann Watson and her husband, Bill, who came up from Freeport, was the story of Samuel Henry Courier II.

“It is amazing that during such a hard time, where there was so much death and despair, that the young soldier still had time to think about his family,” Ann Watson said. “It was really moving to hear his story.”

Potter-Clark said Courier was born in Readfield and attended Kent’s Hill School and Colby College, where he studied to be a lawyer. He moved to Wisconsin to live with a sister and joined a Wisconsin regiment during the onset of the Civil War.

Throughout his enlistment, Potter-Clark said, Courier sent home countless letters back to Maine to his family, and he made sure to tell everyone he was in good health and in good spirits. He even wrote of overcoming his fear of thunder and lightning.

During his time in the U.S. Army, Courier marched more than 2,500 miles and was taken prisoner during the Battle of Shiloh, which was fought over two days in April 1862 in southwestern Tennessee. Courier survived the war, went back to Wisconsin and married a woman from Maine nearly 30 years his junior. He died in 1901 and is buried in a large area of the Corner Cemetery with other members of his family.

“It’s remarkable what he went through, and what all of the soldiers went through,” Ann Watson said.

After the history walk was completed, the Third Maine fife and drummers led a parade up Church Street to Gile Hall, where a ceremony was held to honor all military veterans. A luncheon sponsored by the Readfield United Methodist Church followed and included music and historical discussion.

“One day a year doesn’t seem like enough to say thanks to our veterans,” Potter-Clark said.

The Third Maine was a unit of more than 1,500 soldiers, and this group of re-enactors portrays Company A, a regiment comprised of men recruited from places all along the Kennebec River. The company was formed with a militia from Bath called the Bath City Grays, and Company A’s encampment was in Augusta across from the state house overlooking the river.

Company A mustered into service in June 1861, and by the time it’s service ended, in June 1864, a total of about 1,600 men had served in the regiment — 134 had been killed or mortally wounded in battle; 149 died of disease; and 33 had been incarcerated in Confederate prisons.

“It’s so important that people continue to re-enact and remember and honor those who served in the Civil War,” Bill Watson said. “When history gets further into the past, it tends to move further away from people’s minds.

“We can’t have something like that happen with the Civil War, which everyone knows is the deadliest war in American history,” he said.

Potter-Clark joked that the volunteers portray the Third Maine because they like to play dress-up. She said it’s really to pay their respects to the 620,000 soldiers that died during the Civil War.

“They do it to honor the veterans,” she said.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

filed under: