Like many kids of the day, he probably grew up listening to old stories of how grandpa possibly fought at Bunker Hill and Ticonderoga during the Revolutionary War. But rather than soldiering he'd learn the trade of a clerk. By age 21 he'd moved to Bangor Maine and was developing quite a good reputation for his clerking talents in the Shipbuilding industry.
In 1861 Daniel heard the call for soldiers to sign up to defend their country in the War Against the States.(US Civil War) Was it the call, the excitement of friends and co-workers, the echoes of old stories from Grandpa, or the need for money or just excitement! Who Knows?
But whatever it was, it found him heading off to Bangor and trading his civilian clothes for that of a Private in F Company of the 2nd Maine Volunteer Infantry. It was 28 May 1861, and he was now Pvt Chaplin, and obligated to serve for 3 years come hell or high water. He's get both... and much more.
On enlistment he was an old man, if you will. While most were in late teens or early twenties, he was a whopping 41. No doubt this had much to do with his immediately being voted in by the rest of his company to be their leader... their Captain. Instead of a few kids, he now had about 100.
Within months his unit would be fighting at the Battle of Manassis. (First Bull Run) His performance must have been exceptional as he was promoted to Major less than 2 months later.
It was less than a year later at the Battle of Hanover Courthouse where Major Chaplin would again show his leadership and bravery for the cause. He had seen a near-bye Union Regiment of Artillery being driven off and their guns captured, He immediately rallied his own troops and made an attempt to rescue them. He failed. Whilst about to take a second run at the enemy, the artillery officer who lost the guns, a major by the name of Hamlin, saw that Chaplin was in trouble. A bullet damaged his scabbard and he could not withdraw his sword to rally the troops for a 2nd run at the Confederates. Hamlin raced out and offered Chaplin his own sword. Chaplin then made a move on the enemy, drove them off and rescued Hamlin's cannons.
You might recognize the name. His father was the Vice President of the United States!
Upon return Chaplin tried to return the sword but Hamlin, out of respect, insisted that the sword was now his to keep.
About 6 weeks later Chaplin was promoted to Colonel and sent back to Bangor to raise a new regiment, that would become the 18th Maine Volunteer Heavy Artillery, "the Heavies," as they became known to most. He would command this regiment for the next 6 months and then the unit would then be renamed the First Maine Heavy Artillery, with him still at the helm for about the next 16 months. (No pun meant for the navy readers.)
For about the next 18 months Chaplin's Heavies spent their days marching and patrolling as part of the garrison defense force at Washington DC. When they finally got the call, the older vets in the area thought little of the Heavies as their service, though not their Colonel's, was limited to non combatant rolls and had yet to see the elephant. A military term for those yet christening on the fields of battle.)
The vets would tease them and call them Abe's Pets, Paper Collars, Band Box Soldiers and the like.
But soon they would quickly withdraw any criticism for the First Maine Heavy Artillery. A unit full of pride and destined to show the old boys what they were really made of.
And that would become evident about 900 miles south of the old enlistment stations of Bangor Maine.
This will come to you next weekend, as other duties are pressing today.
You do not want to miss the incredible follow-up!
Hope you will join me then.