Thursday, September 5, 2013


     I feel compelled to share my thoughts, having just returned from the graveside celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of the Boxer and Enterprise off the Maine coast during the War of 1812 at Portland's Eastern Cemetery.  
The British and American Captains and an American Officer are laid to rest, side by side.

     The curator, Mr. Googins from the Maine Military Historical Museum was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.  Representatives from the city of Portland,Mayor Michael Brennan, the Maine Historical Society, the British Consulate and 1st Lady, Ann LePage, as well as the Maine National Guard and the Maine Naval Reserve created a wonderful, and solemn celebration.  Our friend and Portland historian, Herb Adams presented the Longfellow poem which speaks of the battle. 

      The commander of the Maine National Guard spoke about the significance of the War of 1812 in Maine's history.  An unpopular war to citizens of  the infant nation, only thirty-six years after the Revolution, and especially to the Maine district, still part of Massachusetts;  there was great reluctance about engaging in a battle with the British empire again.  There was also the issue of privateering  on the Maine coast; a dark moment in our history.  In the end, Maine rallied.

     The War of 1812 is often referred to as the second war of independence.  It certainly was that for Maine since the Governor of Massachusetts refused to send aid to the district to help in the defense of the Maine coast.  The Maine Light Infantry and the Portland Rifle Company were formed in 1812 for the defense of Portland. Eventually, these volunteer militia groups became the Maine National Guard.
     The War of 1812 was perhaps most significant as the catalyst to Maine achieving independence from Massachusetts and becoming a state.  

     I thought about the six Veterans interred in our Grand Trunk Cemetery, especially Joseph Merrill who we will honor in a month's time on October 14th, with a ceremony to dedicate his memorial marker.  Joseph was a member of Captain Abel Atherton's Portland Rifle Company, a special unit of the Infantry which was enacted by the then, Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1812.  Joseph, born c. 1754 was close to 60 years old when he was mustered.  My understanding is that the men called upon to serve in the  company were marksmen.  I will leave off here to return later with more about the illusive, Joseph Merrill and the journey to finally obtain a memorial marker to honor him.

The honor of your presence

Is requested at the
Ceremony of dedication of the
Memorial stone
Joseph Merrill
Veteran of the War of 1812
Monday, October 14, 2013
At 11am
Grand Trunk Cemetery