Pvt. Frank Butler
Chaplain Charles Nason
8th Maine Inf. then 2nd Cav.
|Lt. William H.
27th Me. then 2nd
2nd Cav. Troop & friend
|Pocket Journal of
Sgt. Mjr Charles E. Wilson
Co. G 2nd Maine Cavalry
The pocket journal of Sgt. Mjr. Charles E. Wilson who was a Bradford, Maine teacher in 1863 when he was mustered in on December 11 as Sergeant Co, G 2nd Maine Cavalry. Wilson
keeps a rather rudimentary journal however his early account, though difficult to decipher as he faintly scrawls his earliest military experience, offers a classic account of the common trials of a
sea journey from Portland, Maine to Louisiana. We’ll describe it briefly here by saying it amounted to approximately three weeks of sea sickness of varying degree ranging from violent to simple
misery. Physical activity, when able, amounted in good part to throwing dead horses overboard as the Maine land-lubber horses faired even less well than the mostly landlocked Co. G Maine
back woodsmen of the Bangor area. Upon reaching their destination the Sgt. leaves his journal completely not to pick it up again until July of 1865. If nothing else his writing has become quite
distinguishable as he sets his experiences down in ink and in a rather pleasant hand. (A hint as to his post Civil War vocation as a San Francisco attorney?) He seems to be less than completely
well most of the time however and leaves evidence of this in the form of a remedy prescription scrawled on a scrap of paper and tucked into the pocket of his journal. Directing to take a
spoonful before each meal, the concoction consists on cod liver oil, quinine sulfate, and other foul sounding ingredients not familiar to us. Sgt. Wilson’s general ill health is no surprise when one
considers that the 2nd Maine Cavalry lost approximately a third of its number to illness. The 1st Florida Cavalry is mentioned again (see our earlier account included in the Sgt. Frank W. Pearce
material) when Sgt. Mjr. Wilson advises that they were considered as thieves and robbers by members of the 2nd Maine. Wilson advises of the demise of a fellow Mainer named Crawford,
drummed out of camp to the tune of the Rogues March. He enlisted in this regiment at Augusta, deserted at Greenville La., then enlisted again in the 1st Florida Cav., came here with the
Regiment last spring and was apprehended, writes the Sargent Major. In our own research we found Robert Crawford as a 25 year old resident of Bangor, Maine when he enlisted as a Private
of Co, D 2nd Maine Cavalry. Official records have him as a deserter on January 1, 1864. Arrested (date and place not stated) and in jail for stealing horses.
Not a typical sort of fellow and likely not one to be emulated as we will see. Young Frank Butler first entered the
service in 1861 as an 18 year old resident of Portland, Maine. Frank was mustered May 3rd as a musician of Co. D
1st Maine Volunteer Infantry, (Portland Rifle Corps) serving with regiment only until August 5th when the early war
regiment mustered out in Portland. This is when our man’s military record starts to be quite diverse as he travels to
Maryland and on September 4, 1861 enlists as a Private of Co. L 1st Maryland Cavalry. Not one to hang around long,
Butler remained with the 1st MD Cav. until on September 20, 1862 he is recorded as having deserted. Butler shows up
next on December 2, 1862 in Boston when he joins the crew of the U. S. R. Ship Ohio as an ordinary seaman. He is
transferred to the U.S.S. Alabama then at some point to the U. S. R. Ship Vandalia from which, in keeping with his
persistence in short time service, he is discharged at Kittery Navy Yard in Maine on November 24,1863. It is only a
few days later when on December 3, 1863 Frank Butler enlists and is mustered in as a Sargent of Co. C 2nd Maine
Cavalry. Though he remains with the 2nd for the duration of the Civil War, Butler has just begun to set himself apart
from the usual. While records indicate that Butler could be a good soldier, commended in official reports on at least
one occasion, (see earlier Frank W. Pearce letter) Sgt. Butler succeeded in being reduced to Corporal then to Private,
was promoted back to Corporal then once again to Sergent. Notwithstanding a November 1865 court-martial in which
he was charged with assault and battery with the intent to kill when he allegedly emptied his seven shot Spencer carbine
into the tent of his Co. commanding officer Capt. Benjamin G. Merry. The Captain could not clearly identify Pvt.
Butler in the trial and Frank was acquitted remaining with his Regiment until it’s mustering out at Barrancas, Florida on
December 6, 1865.