Major John Mead Gould in 1865
Post War Career
April 10th - May 31st, 1865
John Mead Gould's journal entry for April 10th, 1865 reads as follows - "About four o'clock this morning we were all awakened by the stunning reports and echoes of heavy guns on Maryland Heights. ... The cannonading was going on at a furious rate, rattling, groaning, pounding and shaking our old factory well, when the night watch cme in saying 'Boys, Dr. Graham says General Stevenson has just notified him that Lee has surrendered the whole of his army!' So indeed it was. ... I must say that I did not think Lee would have been pushed so hard as to lay down his arms. ... More than ever does it show that God deals as He will. Victory and success goes where He ordains. It never looked so plain to me as this morning."
On April 15th JMG heard rumors that President Lincoln had been assasinated (in fact, he had died that morning). JMG shared his countrymen's shock and horror that such a violent and dastardly act would culminate the hard fought war. He wrote - "I never hear such news without asking myself 'What is God's purpose in this matter?"
On the April 21st the 29th Maine was on a train in Maryland which was moved to a railroad siding to allow President Lincoln's funeral train to pass by on its way to Baltimore - the first stop on a long tour which would end in Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois. All the regiment's men removed their hats and stood in silence while their fallen leader passed. Gould himself was not present for this event as he was confined to the hospital at the time.
On April 24th JMG "went to bed for the last time in the semi-hell of a hospital." Early the next morning he left for good and took a train to Washington and found the regiment. On the 26th he and his friend Alpheus Greene took a ride around Fort Stevens - part of the defenses of Washington. After that he took a rest and poured his thoughts into his diary - "I can hardly realize that this war is over to me. ... No more prayers for strength in battle. No more realization of dreams. My reputation as a fighting man is made forever one may say. Good, bad or medium, its beyond changing now. We are holiday soldiers now."
On April 30th Gould rode into Washington and look for his brother at the prestigious Willard Hotel. He didn't find him there until the next day and stayed with his brother that night.
At breakfast on May 2nd they saw none other than General Grant. For unexplained reasons Gould was not moved by the experience and simply wrote - "I did not know him and so took no notice of him. The others considered their $5 per diem well invested for this day after having seen General Grant."
Richmond, Virginia in 1865
On May 4th he was on leave and visited the Confederate capitol of Richmond, Virginia. His impressions were as follows - "We saw Libby Prison as we rode up the piles of ruins from the late fire. 'Vengence is mine' might be written at the corner of every street, yet it would hardly be more evident than it is now. The business town is almost all gone but the residences look pretty well. But such a God-forsaken place as this is, one does not often see."
Grand Review of the Union Army, May 23rd, 1865
On May 23rd the 29th Maine, along with most of the Union Army, marched in the grand review in Washington to celebrate the end of the war. JMG lamented that spectators could only see "no more than eight or ten thousand troops" at a time but also wrote - "But to see the particular troops who fought here and there, and to see the famous generals, these were worth while to be sure."
Gould's most poignent memory of the day was - "But of all I saw during the day nothing reached so deep in my heart as the school children on the Capitol steps. There were over two thousand of them, all in white and decked in wreaths and flowers. They were singing, how beautiful it was too, and their innocent white faces and and bare arms and heads suggested everything pure." The sight of innocent children after four years of suffering and death must have made him long for the comforts of home.
The next day, Gould found himself embroiled in a controversy which would run him afoul of General George L. Beal - his former regimental commander. "This P.M. Colonel Nye recieved a note addressed to General Beal from General Dwight's A.A.G. (Assistant Adjutant General) requesting Beal to send his band over to Division Head Quarters as they expected company to dinner. We have had a great deal of trouble lately from our band as Dwight and Beal have seem disposed to have it every fair evening. The officers and men (of the 29th Maine) have made a great deal of complaint and advised the Colonel to hold on to the insturments.
Lest this controversy seem trivial to the contemporary reader, it must be kept in mind that this is the rough equivalent of a general commandeering the only television and DVD player available for the entertainment of several hundred soldiers. This, naturally, had an adverse impact on moral and the appearance of an abuse of power.
Eventually, Gould and Colonel Emerson declined to send the band to entertain General Beal and his guests. Beal's reaction was to place both officers under arrest. (This was effectively confinement to quarters when not on official duty.) After a couple of days the controversy was resolved and Gould and Emerson were released from arrest without formal disciplinary action being taken.
Although the war was over, Gould's military service had not ended and he would soon see occupation duty in South Carolina. His experiences there lend valuable insight into the reconstruction era in the south.
Occupation DutyJune 1st - October 30th, 1865
Damage to Fort Pulaski near Savannah, Georgia
On June 1st, 1865 the 29th Maine boarded transports bound for Savannah, Georgia. During a lay over in Savannah, Gould was able to visit Fort Pulaski and a nearby Martello Tower (one of the few of this kind of fortification to be found in the United States.)
From Savannah they would travel to Darlington, South Carolina and assume the duties of maintaining law and order in the newly occupied south. This was unpleasant duty due to hostility of the southern whites on the one hand and the helplessness of the freed slaves on the other.
Due to his seniority in rank JMG "was appointed 'Provost Judge' of 1/3 of 1/3 of the State of South Carolina and had a lively time in settling disputes between quarrelsome natives, white and black".(PH) He found this duty trying as he soon discovered that he had little respect for the southerners - although he was much more sympathetic to southern blacks understanding that they had lived their whole lives under the merciless yoke of slavery.
The following quotes from Gould's diary are provided as they give a vivid and frank view of the state of the south during the reconstruction period as well as revealing Gould's characteristic sarcasim and cynicism.
July 28th, 1865 - "During the heat of the day we lie quiet and fan ourselves and talk about muster out (discharge from the Army) and the man who's got 'cotton-on-the-brain'. This disease troubles more than one who wears the blue uniform (ie. Union soldiers)."
July 29th - "It annoys me exceedingly to see so much discussion in the papers of the right of negro suffrage (voting) and so little on the duty of negro education. Attend to the latter and they will be sharp enough to clamor for their rights until they are heard."
August 4th - "These poor whites have suffered immensely during the war. The pressure has been so great that almost every man and boy of them has had to go to war. Literally the 'cradle and grave were robbed' as General Grant said. And now that the war is over there is no one who will kick them quicker than those violent secessionists who forced them into the army and would not go themselves and who now go about day after day working to discourage every good work that is set on foot."
August 8th - "They (the blacks) think we Yankees can do anything and I don't wonder they do, seeing how stupid the white natives are."
August 11th - "I had a busy day in listening to the stories of blacks and whites. There is much sameness in all their complaints. They (southern whites) will call us 'damned Yankees' and turn up their noses to us but why they should neglect their old soldiers who are coming home sick and half starved every day I don't see."
September 13th - "A young squirt came into Colonel Nye's office ... to represent the much abused aristocracy of this town. His whole complaint was the lack of breeding of the "garrison". Without denying it, we attempted to prove that ill manners were contagious and that we had been domoralized by living in this community; that we had seen so much want of good breeding that we cared no more to be polite and gentlemanly with the (white) people, than with the negroes. I don't think he will trouble Colonel Nye again."
As time passed JMG became frustrated and bored with occupation duty. He finally resigned his commision on February 28th, 1866 and made this telling entry in his diary - "After much delay and expectancy, hearing no response from General Meade's Adjutant General, I forwarded my resignation to him today. I hate to think of getting out of the service in this but necessity compels it. 'First in and last out' is the brag of our boys now. The men are deserting or sneaking out (like myself) under every kind of pretense. The desire to get home and get out of the sinking ship is intense. To me the big pay hardly enters as an argument against the misery of garrison duty."
On March 18th, 1866 JMG's resignation from the army was accepted concluding, by his own calculation, "Four years, five months and twenty one days" of being "in service" and "under pay". He briefly summed up his observations on war with two quotes - "WAR IS HELL" - Said Sherman, "WAR BREEDS MORE RASCALS THAN IT KILLS" - Said the unknown Greek 2,000 years ago."(PH)
Carpet BaggerApril 19th, 1866 - July 8th, 1867
JMG then moved to Yauhanna Ferry, South Carolina on April 19th, 1866 where he had decided that he could make a fortune in the lumber business. The most probable impeteous of this ambition was the true story of an enterprizing Mainer who moved to the south and amassed a sizeable fortune selling lumber to the shipyards in Maine.
Truth be known, JMG was one of the notorious carpet baggers who moved to the south during reconstrution in search of the financial prosperity which was expected to follow the end of the war. (A descendant related that JMG, in his characteristicly meticulous manner, made an inventory of his pocessions before leaving and duly recorded a carpet bag.)
West Parish Church, Bethel, Maine
Site of the Wedding of John and Amelia Gould
JMG returned to Maine in November of 1866 and married Amelia Jenkins Twitchell on the 13th of that month and the happy couple moved to back to Yauhanna on January 23rd, 1867.
JMG proved to be a poor businessman and on July 8th of the same year left the south never to return. A combination of disagreements with his business partner, Mr. Alpheus Green (who was also a veteran the 10th and 29th Maine regiments and succeeded JMG as adjutant upon his promotion to Major), a lack of financial success, indebtedness, the oppressive southern heat and his wife being five months pregnant led to his decision.
As Gould and Green were indebted to several creditors at the time they could not legally leave the state. They put their wives on a steamer and sneaked out of town with two horses and a wagon a couple of weeks later on July 8th, 1867.
Upon Gould's return to Portland three weeks later, Jenky calculated the family fortune to total about forty three dollars.
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