Bowdoin Remembers: Commemorating the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War

Front page of the November 1862 "Bowdoin Bugle."

Front page of the November 1862 "Bowdoin Bugle."

Amid the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, Bowdoin is preparing to commemorate the sesquicentennial with Alumni College programming. ”The Afterlife of the American Civil War,” a series scheduled August 8-11, 2013, will feature keynote speakers, talks by Bowdoin faculty and walking tours of historic Brunswick.

In the months leading up to the Alumni College, the Bowdoin Daily Sun, at the beginning of the month, will post Civil War milestones and other remembrances related to the College.

With thanks to the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, this month we feature an excerpt from a November 1862 Bowdoin Bugle editorial.

“As we take up the quill so generously bequeathed us, and mount ourself upon the ‘elevated tripod,’ from which our immediate predecessor descended with so much apparent satisfaction, we are led at the outset to acknowledge the great responsibility of our position, and the obligations under which we are placed to maintain the dignity of a situation so elevated.  ‘This loftiest height of human ambition,’ from which others have stepped down without a ‘single regret,’ makes a deep impression upon our own mind but without perceptibly rupturing the ‘connection of thought,’ or disturbing our usual equanimity.

What do you blow for? is a question of so trifling importance that we apprehend no one of our readers will puzzle his brains about it; but if there be any such inquisitive reader of this sheet, let him subside with the assurance that

“We’ve blown our fingers –
— knocked our head against
Some fifty lofty buttresses — and roused the rats
And bats in general insurrection—“

for the same veritable cause, for which the Bugle in times past has ‘blow’d’ and ‘blasted’ and set forth its ‘symphonious twangs’ much to the gratification of some and annoyance of others.  We admit that we should be involved in somewhat of a serious dilemma, if we were to attempt minutely to define our position in regard to some of the petty questions, which are now agitating the political world, and are causing in its motion, irregularities, which the ablest mathematicians are incompetent to calculate.  But we have a higher purpose in view than dabbling in party politics.

We present to our readers the ‘Roll of Honor’ which such corrections and additions as we have been able to make; but  we are aware that it falls short of being complete; yet it is to us, and we doubt not will be to all who examine it, the most interesting feature of our present publication.—No true son of Bowdoin can read this list of names and dwell a moment even, upon the many scenes which are thus called to his remembrance, without exulting in the thought, that his Alma Mater has so many sons, who are not merely patriotic speech makers, but living, acting patriots, who make no boastful pretentions to an impracticable patriotism, but claim for themselves a love of country that is real and capable of being exercised.  To the care of such men we may safely trust the honor of our Alma Mater.

Profs. Chamberlain and Whittlesey have given up, for the present, their peaceful, literary pursuits, and are now engaged in fighting the battles of their country; they have exchanged the comparatively easy walks of the College Professor, for the severe marches of the military leader.  If ‘Old Bowdoin’s’ good wishes could protect them from the bullets of the enemy, they would ever be in the perfect security.  Prof. Whittlesey’s department is now conducted by Prof. Packard, whose labors must be rendered very onerous by the additional responsibility he has assumed.  The place of Prof. Chamberlain is filled by Stephen J. Young, A.M., of the class of ’59.  Mr. Young has been traveling in Europe since his graduation, whence he returned in June last; he has thoroughly qualified himself for the position he occupies, and has already gained the reputation of being an efficient teacher in the Modern Languages.  He is highly esteemed as a thorough scholar and as one well calculated to impart instruction….”

Comments

  1. I am writing a book about my ancestor (great great granduncle) Eliphalet Whittlesey and hope to attend your August 2013 program.

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