The Provincial Press

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ISBN 0-931675-09-X
Confederates Downeast

Confederate Operations In and Around Maine

By Mason Philip Smith

232 pages, illustrations, maps, bibliography and index. 6 x 9, paper. $11.50.
Printed on acid-free paper.

~ The Only Book on the Subject ~

Confederates Downeast by Mason Philip Smith is a thoroughly detailed account of little known Confederate operations in and around Maine and off the New England and Canadian coasts. Many fascinating letters, documents and photographs in the book have never been published. This stimulating book was researched at the National Archives and at libraries throughout New England and in Canada's Maritime Provinces.

Six chapters deal with the men who took part in the long forgotten Confederate raid on the Calais (Maine) National Bank in 1864. Mason Philip Smith has adroitly traced the backgrounds of such interesting personalities as William Collins, C.S.A.-C.S.N., of Mississippi, the leader of the raid; his staunch Union brother the Reverend John Collins, who informed on the Confederate raider; Francis X. Jones, a wounded Shiloh veteran and Confederate dispatch carrier, who wanted to return to his mother's St. Louis home, but was ordered to join Collins; and William Daymond, a deserter from the 6th New Jersey Volunteers, who received an honorable discharge for spying on Collins and his men.

"Confederates Downeast is a lot more than just a Maine book ... It's required reading for anyone in Civil War and maritime history."

John Clibbon Brain, swindler and con man, is one of the most engrossing characters described in the book. Four vividly detailed chapters relate Brain's exciting wartime career. Arrested as a spy in Indiana in 1861, he was freed after signing an oath to "not do anything hostile to the United States." Shortly thereafter, Brain, along with David Collins, another of William Collins' brothers, and others, hijacked the steamer Chesapeake on its run from New York to Portland, Maine. The book also narrates in detail Brain's seizure of the steamer Roanoke and the schooner St. Mary's. Confederates Downeast fully describes Brain's post-war imprisonment, without benefit of trial, for hijacking the Chesapeake .

Several fascinating chapters deal with the raid by Charles W. Read, C.S.N. on Portland's harbor in June of 1863. Read and his men, who had already pillaged eastern seaboard shipping, captured the U.S. Revenue Cutter Caleb Cushing in the inner harbor only to have to destroy their prize when surrounded by a superior force of angry Mainers.

"I'm astounded by the never-ending amount of detail ..."

Confederates Downeast recounts Read's failed attempt to escape from Fort Warren and details the successful escape by two of his fellow prisoners, Lt. John Alexander of the C.S.S. Atlanta and Lt. James Thurston of the Confederate Marine Corps.

One lively chapter describes the destructive cruise of the C.S.S. Tallahassee, John Taylor Wood commanding, along the Maine coast and the Confederate cruiser's daring escape from Halifax Harbor.

What Others are Saying

"Confederates Downeast reads in parts, like a Clive Cussler thriller, with tales of Rebel derring-do on the Maine coast - tales which somehow never were featured in the history books we had at school! Confederates Downeast is a lot more than just a Maine book though. It's required reading for anyone in Civil War and maritime history." --Nicholas Dean

"Excellent! When you say new information you mean it. I'm astounded by the never-ending amount of detail you've unearthed." --Peter Dow Bachelder

"Although the Civil War in the United States was only a small part of Canadian history, I, as a Nova Scotian, felt drawn into the events described in Confederates Downeast. Mason Philip Smith has given us a well researched book, one which realistically captures the intrigues of the times. Many of the details and facts in this lively narrative of Confederate actions in the northeastern United States and in the Maritime Provinces were previously unknown, giving the author the leading edge in being 'the' authority others will call upon." --Sherman Hines, Author, Atlantic Canada

"Wider implications than Maine local history permeate this chronicle of the activities of Confederate agents, privateersmen and regular naval officers on the Atlantic seaboard during the Civil War. Public and academic libraries with strong U.S. history collections or interest - as well as historical agencies - will want to purchase this." --Glenn Skillin, Free Library of Philadelphia

"While it is widely known that Maine paid an enormous price in lives on southern battlefields during the Civil War, few are aware of the military and naval actions which directly affected our home front. Mason Philip Smith's Confederates Downeast for the first time brings the Civil War battle front home to Maine from Calais to Portland. Exhaustively researched, skillfully written and handsomely illustrated, Confederates Downeast provides a fascinating chapter to the history of Maine, Canada and the Confederates during the Civil War." --Earle I. Shettleworth. Jr., Director, Maine Historical Preservation Commission

"The picture of Saint John and Halifax as espionage centers is fascinating. Confederates Downeast conveys a good sense of the turmoil, trickery and at times frantic activity which accompanied the excitement of a 'lone wolf' loose in the New England fold. Confederates Downeast is a worthwhile. enjoyable and informative read." --Ian Wilson, Saint John Public Library, Saint John, New Brunswick

~ Essential for Your New England History Collection ~

CONTENTS: Confederates Downeast


  1. Alarms Along the Border
  2. Letters from Jail
  3. The Raider and the Minister
  4. Two Confederates and an Informer
  5. The Incredible Plot
  6. The Tallahassee & The Florida
  7. Trial, Prison and a Daring Escape
  8. Charles W. Read & The Florida No. 2
  9. The Seizure of the Caleb Cushing
  10. The Destruction of the Caleb Cushing
  11. Escape from Fort Warren
  12. John Clibbon Brain, Swindler & Spy
  13. Hijacking the Chesapeake
  14. The Chesapeake Recaptured
  15. Brain Strikes Again
  16. The Last Confederate Prisoner
  17. After the Silence


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Copyright 1996 The Provincial Press
Revised 30 January 1997 gww