April 2, 1865: On the day he becomes a brevetted Army brigadier general, Col. Thomas W. Hyde (1841-1899) of Bath leads an assault force at the tip of a wedge of Union troops that breaks through the Confederate defenses at Petersburg, Virginia, during the Civil War’s Third Battle of Petersburg.

This successful gambit, following 10 months of a frustratingly ineffective Union siege, prompts the Confederacy to abandon its capital at nearby Richmond.

Hyde already was decorated with the Medal of Honor after leading a regiment’s assault on Southern infantry at the 1862 Battle of Antietam. He also took part in the Second Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Gettysburg.

One week after the Petersburg collapse, when Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Army of Northern Virginia at the Appomattox Court House, Hyde is present at the surrender ceremony.

Nearly two decades later, in October 1884, Hyde founds Bath Iron Works in his hometown.

April 2, 1907: The four-masted steel bark SV Arthur Sewall, built at the Arthur Sewall & Co. shipyard in Bath and launched there in 1899, leaves the Delaware Breakwater with a cargo of 4,900 tons of coal, bound for Seattle via Cape Horn, at the southern tip of South America.

The ship never is heard from again. Lloyd’s Register posts it as missing on Feb. 5, 1908.

Arthur Sewall at anchor with a tug alongside. The exact date is unknown, but the photo was taken between 1899 and 1907. Courtesy of the Dyal Sailing Ships Collection, Texas Tech University Libraries

April 2, 1935: The Macmillan company publishes Brunswick native Robert P. Tristram Coffin’s (1892-1955) book of poetry “Strange Holiness.” The book wins the 1936 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Carte de visite of Thomas W. Hyde at the time of the Civil War. As a major in the 7th Maine Infantry, Hyde distinguished himself during the battle of Antietam. He received a Medal of Honor for his actions in 1891. The citation reads: Led his regiment in an assault on a strong body of the enemy’s infantry and kept up the fight until the greater part of his men had been killed or wounded, bringing the remainder safely out of the fight. Image courtesy of Digital Maine

Coffin, a Bowdoin College graduate, Rhodes scholar and longtime Bowdoin professor of English, wrote dozens of books of fiction and nonfiction, and he illustrated many of them. His nonfiction books include “Mainstays of Maine, “Maine Ballads” and “Kennebec: Cradle of Americans.”

He was the poetry editor at Yankee magazine.

Joseph Owen is a retired copy desk chief of the Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. He can be contacted at: [email protected]


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