From Farm to Prison – February 1999 Civil War Times Feature

9/23/1999 • Civil War 1862, Civil War Guns, Civil War Times, Cold Harbor

From Farm to Prison


NAME: Llewellyn Smith
DATES: 1836 to 1883
UNIT: 9th Maine Infantry, Company I
SERVICE RECORD: Mustered into the 9th Maine Infantry on September 22, 1861. Captured at Bermuda Hundred, Virginia, on August 25, 1864. Incarcerated at Belle Isle Prison until mid-September and at Libby Prison until October. Mustered out on July 13, 1865.

A small town not far from Bangor, Maine, Carmel was a tranquil place populated by farmers who had little time for anything besides farming–until the Civil War erupted. Llewellyn Smith and other sons of Carmel put away their plows and took up rifles. The 25-year-old Smith was mustered into the 9th Maine Infantry, Company I, on September 22. Two days later, the farmers were on their way south as soldiers. At left, Smith stands stoically with his Springfield rifle musket. The knife and revolver in his belt are probably props supplied by the photographer; few foot soldiers carried such weapons.

Almost immediately, the 9th Maine was assigned to Brigadier General Thomas W. Sherman’s South Carolina Expeditionary Corps. Smith saw his first action in the Union capture of Port Royal. Then, after several months of quiet duty in Florida, the Pine Tree Staters were thrown back into action in South Carolina, where they fought desperately in three assaults and a siege against Charleston’s Battery Wagner in July 1863. Thirty-nine men from the 9th were killed or mortally wounded, but Smith escaped uninjured.

Early in 1864, the regiment was reassigned to the Army of the James and joined Major General Benjamin F. Butler in his operations outside Richmond, Virginia. More than 70 men of the 9th Maine died during bitter fighting at Cold Harbor and Petersburg in June. Smith survived only to be captured at Bermuda Hundred on August 25. He spent three weeks at Belle Isle Prison on the James River before being transferred to Libby Prison in Richmond.

Smith stayed at Libby only a month, but the suffering that began there would last the rest of his life. Libby Prison was populated mostly by officers. As a private, Smith received even fewer aids to survival than the suffering officers. He had no bed, no blankets, and few clothes–only a shirt and pants. In the damp Southern autumn, Smith rapidly developed severe heart and lung infections. Paroled in October, he went home to Carmel for a lengthy convalescence. Although he eventually returned to his regiment, the war was over for Smith; shortly after his return, the men of the 9th Maine were mustered out, on July 13, 1865. A shell of his former self, Smith was still one of the lucky ones; nearly a quarter of the 197 men of his company never came home.

Too weak for farming, Smith became a wagon maker in Carmel. He soon married his sweetheart, Adaline Maloon, and over the next several years, the couple had five children. Adaline died in 1880, and three years later, Smith succumbed to his wartime ailments. His children were sent to the State Military and Naval Children’s Home in Bath. Even today, Smith’s descendants do not know where he was buried, only that it was in Maine.