At this time, Maine and the nation are marking the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a variety of special events. Locally, a committee is planning book-talks, tours of historic sites, speakers and more. In Windham, 302 men left their farms and families to fight for the country.

In the Knight cemetery on the Pope Road, a tall monument stands in memory of two brothers who both lost their lives in the Civil War. Neither of them had reached the age of 35. Their grandfather, builder Joshua Lowell, had fought in the Revolutionary War.

Patriotism was in their blood.

Oliver Hawkes Lowell was 30 when he married a local girl named Olive Varney. It was 1859, and he had been teaching for two years at Gorham Seminary. A graduate of Tufts College, he was looking forward to a happy life, but things changed quickly. His wife died before the marriage was a month old, and he enlisted in the 16th Maine Infantry. Promoted to captain of Company D of that regiment, he fought in several battles and on July 2, 1863, he was killed at Gettysburg.

Meanwhile, his 19 year-old brother Hamilton who was attending Bowdoin College decided to enlist. He joined the 12th Maine Regiment and was soon promoted to captain. In 1864, he was wounded and was presented a gold watch and chain to honor his bravery for the capture of an English blockade runner. Hamilton returned to Windham and in 1866, he died of his wounds. He was 25 years old. He had never married.

Their cousin, Almon L. Varney, an 1862 graduate of Bowdoin College, also served during the Civil War. Among the archives at Windham Historical are a trunk found by Varney from a battlefield and Varney’s handwritten list of materials lost in battle, recorded on July 25, 1865. “Camp near Washington, D.C. I certify on honor on the 8th and 9th days of April 1864(?) at Sabine Cross Roads and Pleasant Hill, La. The stores enumerated below were lost under the following circumstances – One Sergt. was killed, one Private severely wounded and two Privates taken Prisoners. Items abandoned included 7 Enfield Rifled Muskets…one wrench and 2 screwdrivers. “Almon L. Varney, Capt., 13th Maine Vols., Com’d’g Co. D.”

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