One of the commandants of Kennebec Arsenal was Oliver Otis Howard, who went on to win the Medal of Honor for bravery during the Civil War and to found Howard University in Washington.
A native of Leeds, Howard graduated from West Point, where he also taught, and served as Kennebec Arsenal commandant in 1855-56. During the Civil War, he had a commanding role in the Battle of Gettysburg as brigadier general. At Seven Pines, Howard had two horses shot from under him and suffered a bullet wound that led to the amputation of his right arm.
An abolitionist, Howard became part of the Freedmen’s Bureau that protected and helped the newly freed slaves after the war, and founded Howard University for the education of blacks. He also established a bank for blacks.
Howard’s name was in the news in March, when a wind-whipped fire destroyed the central Maine farmhouse in which he was born and reared. The fire also destroyed a barn.