Kingfield Affair

The only overt attempt to obstruct the enforcement of the conscription law in this State, occurred last July, in the towns of Kingfield, Freeman and Salem, in the Second District. In these towns the distribution of notifications to drafted men by the officers of enrolment was resisted. In the former town, officer Lambert of Phillips, when about to enter upon his duty, was met by a mob of nearly fifty persons and ordered to leave town, with threats of personal violence in case he refused. Appealing in vain to several of the influential citizens of the place to interfere and stay such riotous proceedings, and not deeming it prudent to remain, the mandate of the mob was obeyed. In the town of Freeman a mob visited the residence of Mr. Clark, the enrolling officer, the same night, and destroyed the notifications he had in his possession. In the town of Salem, the same operation was repeated. Certain other riotous demonstrations took place a few days later in the town of Kingfield, indicating that unless such a spirit of opposition as was manifested was not put down, serious consequences would be the result.

The attention of the United States authorities being called to these flagrant violations of law and order, an expedition was detailed and placed under the charge of Post Adjutant Webber of Assistant Provost Marshal General's staff, with orders to proceed to Kingfield and enforce the laws and restore the public peace. The expedition was composed of the Lewiston Light Infantry, Captain J. T. Stevens, made up mostly of returned veterans of the 10th Regiment, numbering rank and file sixty-six men, called to the service by special order No. 13 of this Department, of July 23, 1863, and a detail of twenty-one enlisted men from Augusta, under Lieut. James A. Godfrey, who joined the company at Lewiston. The whole command numbered eighty-seven rank and file, and was officered as follows: Captain, J. T. Stevens; 1st Lieutenant, James A. Godfrey; 2d Lieutenant, N. Myron Reed. Private E. Sands acted as Quartermaster, and to captains Knowlton and Nye, privates A. O. Morgan, W. W. Ayer, and Dr. Martin, were assigned to the duty of serving the notifications. Four days rations were provided and ten rounds of ball cartridges given each man.

On July 23d, in the afternoon, this force left Lewiston by the Androscoggin railroad for Farmington, where it encamped on the common for the night, while those selected to serve the notification proceeded to New Portland. The next day morning the force proceeded to New Vineyard, thece to New Portland and thence to Kingfield. When within half a mile of the village, a delegation of citizens, accompanied by a band of music, came out and escorted the company to the village, in the vicinity of which it was stationed. In the meantime those who had been detailed to serve the notifications had arrived and entered upon their work -- Adjutant Webber and Dr. Martin serving the notices in Kingfield, Captain Nye and private Morgan in Salem, and Captain Knowlton and private Ayer in Freeman. During the afternoon of the following day these officers reported that they had successfully accomplished their mission. The object of the expedition having been accomplished, it commenced its return to Lewiston, arriving during the afternoon of the 26th.

I am happy to state that the loyal citizens on the route over which the expedition past, were untiring in their attention to the troops, and proffered every assistance in their power. The soldiers behaved with the greatest propriety. Not a single instance of intoxication or disorderly conduct was reported. Adjutant Webber and Capt. Stevens are deserving of praise for their excellent discipline and the creditable manner in which they performed their duty.

The prompt and energetic action of the United States authorities in suppressing by an armed force the treasonable spirit that had begun to show itself, and which completely overawed the sentiment of loyalty, was the means of doing much good. While it strengthened the hands of the loyal portion of the community it furnished a lesson to those who had taken a hostile attitude, by which they learned that such a course could not be tolerated or pursued with impunity.

Last updated on February 01, 2000

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