Hope Historical Society

Meeting of Wednesday 19th October 2011


Hope Historical Society gathered at Hope Corner firehouse for its annual meeting on 19 October 2011. We convened at 6 PM for a business meeting and adjourned into a potluck supper

President Bowley presented the draft September minutes for Secretary Bill Jones. They were approved.

Treasurer Faith Hart distributed the Treasurer's Report, which was received with thanks. On October 19th, the bank account balance was $8,734.62 and certificates of deposit at Camden National Bank were worth $32,495.23. Income over the year was $9,908.10; expenditures were $9,610.20. Principal sources of income were: building fund letters ($2,625), grants ($2,298), donation of windows ($1,606.22), food sales ($1,333.80), 2010 Chronicle sales ($951.39), bottle redemptions ($503.34) and dues ($385). Principal expenditures were: heating oil ($2,299.95), insurance ($2,166), supplies & labor for Hope Historic Home repair ($1,506.75), purchase of Past Perfect software ($1,369) and 2010 Chronicle printing ($1,320). For details, see attached report.


Minutes for the last meeting prepared by Secretary Bill Jones were distributed by President Donovan Bowley. Following a reading, the Minutes were moved, seconded and accepted.

The President reported on grants. Herb Hart reported for the Building Committee. Webmaster Bob Appleby reported for the Website Committee. Gwen Brodis reported on the availability of 1859 Hope maps and of the 2010 Chronicle, both of which were on sale at the table by the door.. Ann Leadbetter reported for the Program Committee on the past year and on the year ahead. The Nominating Committee did not report on a slate of officers and no elections were held.

Old & New Business: none

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At 7 PM, Vice President and Webmaster Bob Appleby introduced the speaker, Blaikie Hines of Thomaston. He presented highlights from his new publication, An Illustrated Atlas and Battlefield Guide of The Battle of First Bull Run. July 21, 1861. This work, to be released in November,is the result of seven years of literature and field research. It is unique in presenting many previously unpublished views of the battlefield and its area, matching those with present-day views from the same vantage points as the originals. The book also includes the author's original maps of the battlefield and the various actions that took place there. As forest covers a lot of the present-day area, the "then and now" photos are particularly useful to visitors and historians.

He says, "My books is not so much about that is new about what is said; rather it is new in what it illustrates. With over 500 illustrations and 82 maps, it will be the most complete volume with regard to images and maps to be published on the great battle."

Blaikie led us through the overall discussion by following the progress of the Maine troops who went into the battle. His observations on the circumstances of the battle were pithy and succinct: neither the troops nor their leaders had much, if any training or military background; there was no standardization of uniforms on either side, with troops from both North and South wearing both blue and grey uniforms and none at all. Even the battle flags were similar in color and pattern. As a result, there was great confusion, and no one really knew who was who. The Northern troops were under three-month enlistments, and that time was almost at an end, resulting in great pressure to engage in battle. Manassas was the objective because of the strategic importance of the railroads there.

The Union forces in the battle (35,000) were leg by General Irwin McDowell (no military experience) and the Maine troops (3rd Maine Brigade, later joined by the 4th Maine were led by Col. Oliver Otis Howard, a West Pointer. Howard's brigades (including 4 men from Hope) were directed to approach the objective from the north (the long way around) while the others were to approach more directly from the east. After walking from 2:30 AM until 2 PM, Howard's men were pressed into service taking Chin Ridge overlooking Henry Hill. The other Union men-more of the 35,000 - all had to approach the battlefield across Cub Run Bridge -a one-lane wood bridge pp and the Stone Bridge at Bull Run. The Union forces crossed at Sudley Springs (a sulfur spring). The Thornberry House was along the route. The father was in the Confederate Army; the family fled the area. This house was one of the three buildings that survived the battle. One of Blailie's photos shows the house after the battle, with three of the Thornberry boys outside it. The Stone Bridge was blown up in 1862, but later rebuilt. It survives today, but without traffic over it.

The morning battle was at Matthews Hill. Then fighting moved past the Stone House (still there) and Sudley Road, and up Henry Hill. Surrounded by the fighting, 83-year-old Judith Henry was killed in her home. The rest of the Henry family survived in the chimney. (In 1904, there was a Grand Army of the Republic encampment on the battlefield. The Henry House was rebuilt in 1905 with the Battle of Bull Run Monument in the back yard. Of the Maine men on adjacent Chin Ridge, near the Chin House, 24 were killed, 24 were wounded, and 42 were captured. The retreat of the Maine men from the battlefield 45 miles long took days. Nobody knew what they were doing. All were green soldiers.

Out of the combined forces (70,000), about 50,000 were active participants in the battle; of those, 2,000 were wounded or died. Of the four soldiers from Hope, Sumner N. Pease (24) was not found and presumed dead; Benjamin Merrifield, Benjamin Mansfield, and Rufus Wentworth (all 21) survived. Referring to the voluminous Civil War records ("457 MILES of paper in the files"), Blaikie challenged us to contact the NARA ) National Archives and Records Administration) for the service records of these men. He said that, at a cost of $15 for each record and a couple of months of waiting for the copies, it would be well worth it.

With major assistance from President Bowley, respectfully submitted,

Bill Jones, Secretary