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George Dana Bisbee, in Memoriam

Report of the Maine State Bar Association, 1919, pp 98-114

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Report of the Maine State Bar Association, 1919, pp 98-114



[George Dana Bisbee]

An appreciation of his life and character prepared by Ralph T. Parker and read at the memorial services of the Oxford County Bar, at the February term 1919.

George Dana Bisbee was born in Hartford in this county July 9, 1841, but was reared in the town of Peru. His family was of Puritan and Revolutionary stock. His boyhood was that of the ordinary farmer boy of Oxford County of that period. His educational advantages were few but well improved and he grew to manhood endowed with a strong constitution, a sturdy character, and an honorable ambition in life.

The outbreak of the Civil War found him a law student in the office of Randall & Winter at Dixfleld. His call to enter that great conflict can best be described in his own words taken from a paper delivered before the Loyal Legion in May 1910:

"On the 17th day of June, 1862, I was a student in a law office in Dixfield Village, and in the forenoon a two-seated wagon drove up to the office, and in it was a tall man on the front seat, dressed in a soldier's uniform, with a fifer beside him, and boy and brass drum on the rear seat, and at once commenced to entertain us with their music. A large crowd immediately gathered round. The man in uniform came into the office, introduced himself as Captain Daniel Marston of Phillips and stated that he was recruiting for Company C, Sixteenth Maine Regiment. It did not take many minutes for me to enroll my name and take papers to assist in recruiting. I immediately established my headquarters for recruiting at Farmington, taking with me a squad from my locality. The required number to complete the organization of the company was obtained early in July and went into camp with the other companies of the regiment in the rear of the State House at Augusta. I was mustered in as first sergeant on the 14th day of August."

His first engagement was the battle of Fredericksburg where his regiment made its famous charge, and there he received the wound that he carried through life. Of this he says:

"No support being at hand as the regiment advanced up the hill into the woods, the rest of the brigade being back on the plains, the Confederates being in force on both flanks as well as in front, the regiment was ordered to "about face" and fall back. We almost had to charge to get out of the Confederate lines.

"While the regiment was falling back I was in the rear of my company and marching back leisurely. I could see the Confederate lines advancing towards us, and quickened my pace, soon I was hit by a minie ball in my arm, the shock of the ball threw me down on my hands and knees. I remember that the shock was such that I felt unable to rise, but soon the blood started and this gave me relief and the sight of the approaching Confederates gave me strength and I was soon on my feet and not long in joining my command. The regimental surgeon soon decided that my wound was so severe that I must go to the field hospital at once, which was established in the large stone farmhouse near the bank of the river.

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