2015-05-22 / Front Page

Civil War project concludes with performance

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Students at Scarborough Middle School wrote and directed a performance as part of a grant-funded Civil War project. The project also included an online exhibit by the Scarborough Historical Society and Civil War-related programming at Scarborough Public Library. (Michael Kelley photo). Students at Scarborough Middle School wrote and directed a performance as part of a grant-funded Civil War project. The project also included an online exhibit by the Scarborough Historical Society and Civil War-related programming at Scarborough Public Library. (Michael Kelley photo). History came alive last week on the stage at Wentworth School as middle school students reenacted the role Scarborough residents had in the Civil War as part of a year-long look into the important period in U.S. history.

The performance, which was written and staged by students in Scarborough Middle School’s gifted and talented program, is the result of a grant the school, Scarborough Public Library and Scarborough Historical Society received earlier this year to examine the role the Civil War had on Scarborough and its people.

It was funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, which was awarded to Scarborough by the Maine Historical Society and the Maine Humanities Council.


The performance and online exhibit were inspired by this 1861 recruiting poster. (Courtesy photo) The performance and online exhibit were inspired by this 1861 recruiting poster. (Courtesy photo) Grant moneys also covered the cost of “Scarborough: They Answered the Call,” an online exhibit the Scarborough Historical Society created on Maine Memory Network (which can be found at http://scarborohs.mainememory.net) and Civil War-centered programming at the library. Scarborough is one of five communities participating in “Local and Legendary: Maine in the Civil War” during this school year.

The exhibit and performance were inspired by an October 1861 poster from recruiting officers and Scarborough residents Charles C.G. Thornton and Horatio Hight urging citizens to join the 12th Maine Regiment. The announcement read: “To Arms! Our Country Calls!! Come on Sons of Maine! Our brethren are already in the field; why stand here idle! Now is the time!” as well as other letters and pictures of Scarborough residents.


Horatio Hight, a Civil War recruiter, was one of Scarborough’s Civil War veterans. After the war, President Andrew Johnson appointed Hight assistant appraiser of merchandise in Portland. He worked as a customs officer from 1866- 1888. (Courtesy photo) Horatio Hight, a Civil War recruiter, was one of Scarborough’s Civil War veterans. After the war, President Andrew Johnson appointed Hight assistant appraiser of merchandise in Portland. He worked as a customs officer from 1866- 1888. (Courtesy photo) Once the war broke out, Scarborough was quick to fill the quotas that President Abraham Lincoln mandated of communities across the country. Scarborough had close to 239 men join the war effort, although some of the enlistees were from neighboring communities

Many came from prominent Scarborough families, including Libby, Milliken, Pillsbury, Coolbrother, Rounds and Waterhouse. According to local legend, 18-yearold Hiriam Berry, a local handyman, ran into a Union recruiter on his way to get water. Berry signed up on the spot. After returning from the war Berry became a farmer and a carpenter. In 1895 he married Edith May Storey — 32 years his junior. The couple raised 10 children on his farm in northwest Scarborough. Berry died at 72 in 1915. He is buried in Dunstan Cemetery.

While many of the men who left Scarborough to support the war effort died as a result, several who lived came back to town and made a mark on the community. Hight represented Scarborough in the Legislature before moving to Portland. Thornton, whose family Thornton Academy was named for, became a successful flour tradesman in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

Thomas Libby, who had been taken as a Confederate prisoner, returned to Scarborough and ran the West Point Hotel in Prouts Neck. Freedom Milliken went on to be the town clerk in Scarborough. Noah Pillsbury became the town’s first rural postman and delivered mail by horse and wagon in West Scarborough. He also worked as a toll taker at the Cumberland Turn Pike, a thoroughfare that cut through the marsh.

Those men and other veterans of the Civil War are honored at the Scarborough Soldier’s Monument, located on the corner of Broadturn Road and Route 1.

According to the exhibit, when the monument was dedicated in 1913, the Hon. Augustus Freedom Moulton remarked: “During the Civil War no town and no place surpassed the patriotic record of old Scarboro. Every quota was promptly filled. Every requisition was promptly met. The town was depleted of its young men. In all the great battles in the East, Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg and the rest the men from Scarboro took part, and in the far South, New Orleans, Port Hudson and Red River and elsewhere our boys were present and did their duty.”

Eighth-grader Morgan Maddock and seventh-grader Nick Galeucia, two of the 20 students who put on the performance, enjoyed the year-long look at the Civil War and the role past generations of residents had on it.

“It was cool to be able to connect with them in this way,” Galeucia said.

Maddock said she had learned a little bit about the Civil War while she was in elementary school, but never with such a local angle.

“We had learned a little bit abut it when we were younger, but it was good to go back to it and learn more now that we are older,” she said.

Janet Lyons, Maine Humanities Council’s consulting project coordinator for “Local and Legendary: Maine in the Civil War,” was impressed with the work the students put into coordinating not only the play, but also the other Civil Warthemed events, which included a community wide read of “Billy Boy: The Sunday Soldier of the 17th Maine” by Jean Flahive or “Picture the Dead” by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown, as well as a Civil War film series and other events.

“We are holding this up as an example of the wonderful things students can do with great leadership,” she said.

Celeste Shinay, director of programming and development, agreed.

“The students took the project on with full enthusiasm and full energy,” she said.

Events in the Civic War project also included a Civil War film series hosted by Bowdoin College professor Patrick Rael and talks by Civil War re-enactor Mark Matteau, who donated a number of his artifacts for temporary display at the library. Civil War historical and preservationist Steve Bunker and Steve Bentley, an author and post traumatic stress disorder advocate, spoke.

Bentley’s talk centered on the impact the war had on soldiers’ psyches. Karen Sherry, a curator at the Portland Museum of Art, spoke about Winslow Homer and how his artwork portrayed the Civil War.

Shinay said even the library’s knitting group got into the spirit by knitting socks while following a pattern that dates back to the Civil War. Want to comment on this story? Login to our website at leader.mainelymediallc.com and let us know your thoughts.

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