NAME: Marshall Noah McKusick
DATES: 1841 to 1908
HIGHEST RANK: Second Lieutenant
UNIT: 6th Maine, 1st Battalion, Light Artillery
SERVICE RECORD: Enlisted December 10, 1861. Fought at Cedar Mountain, Second Bull Run, Dumfries, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna and Cold Harbor. Honorably discharged on November 17, 1864.
Marshall McKusick was born in Baring, Maine, on March 4, 1841. After graduation from local public schools, he became a schoolteacher. He enlisted on December 10, 1861, as a sergeant in Lieutenant Edwin B. Dow’s 6th Maine Battery Light Artillery, and prepared to learn the lessons of war. In the spring of 1862, the 6th Maine received its guns in Washington. The battery included four 12-pounder Napoleons and two 3-inch rifles (10-pounders).
Following its first action at Cedar Mountain, Va., the battery reported to Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker at Manassas, where it was engaged all day on August 29, 1862, during the Second Battle of Bull Run. The next day, a Confederate charge left all the horses of two guns dead. In December 1862, the battery took part in the fighting at Dumfries, Va., against 3,000 cavalrymen under Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.
McKusick was captured at Dumfries on February 19, 1863, but managed to escape to a cornfield. He was later discovered by a black family named Osborne. The Osborne family hid and cared for him for a few days until he was able to return to his battery by passing through the nearby Union lines.
At Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, the 6th Maine was placed in Major Freeman McGilvery’s line of batteries on Cemetery Ridge. Its guns were in full view as the Confederate infantry advanced into the open field within several hundred yards. The battery fired 240 rounds of spherical case shot and canister in 90 minutes, until the enemy was repulsed.
At the Battle of the Wilderness on May 5-7, 1864, McKusick received his first wound. His casualty sheet lists that he was “burnt in face.” In fierce action, the 6th fired double-shotted rounds of canister into Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s Rebel line, only 200 yards distant. It later took part in action at Spotsylvania and the North Anna River.
For Marshall McKusick, the fighting ended on June 3, 1864, at Cold Harbor. Pension records indicate that a shell fragment entered his right side below the shoulder blade, cutting muscles and ligaments, fracturing a rib and injuring his right lung. The wound was described by family members as “a hole you could put your fist in.” Two months of recuperation at a hospital in Annapolis, Md., would follow.
His first wife, Mary Henry, died in childbirth at age 22 on October 16, 1865. Marshall resumed teaching after the war. He attended law school and was admitted to the Maine bar in 1869. On January 5, 1874, he married Lucy Bassford, who bore him 10 children. He represented Calais in the Maine state legislature, and was elected five times as the mayor of the city. Marshall McKusick died on May 28, 1908, at age 67.
Originally published in the August 2006 issue of Civil War Times. To subscribe, click here.