An Almost Clever Deception: The Battle of Portland Harbor

The Battle of Portland Harbor is one of the most famous events in the history of Maine, particularly in Portland Maine. It occurred in the waters surrounding Portland, Maine on June 27, 1863. This was during a point in the Civil War where the results of the war where highly uncertain and the South appeared to be winning in many ways. However, the United States won the Battle of Portland Harbor.

Essentially, the Battle of Portland Harbor was characterized by a conflict between two Confederate States Navy vessels and two civilian vessels. This is a battle that helps to illustrate the brutal nature of the Civil War in many ways and the fact that it managed to divide the entire nation.

Lt. Charles W. Read commanded one of the Confederate vessels. He managed to commandeer (steal) a U.S. Revenue Cutter while there. He seemed to do so believing that the local people would not find out, but he was quickly proven wrong. The local residents of the area noticed that it was gone, and this was enough to stir up something of a local panic. The U.S. Revenue Cutter did not survive this conflict, and this had an effect on the local economy. However, the effects of the battle were more powerful culturally.

The Battle of Portland Harbor and the subsequent pursuit were relatively brief, in fact, for such a dramatic event. This was often the case with Civil War battles. However, this is a moment that truly stands out for the residents of the area, and it was certainly traumatic for the New England residents of the time. Many of them felt even less safe afterwards, knowing that even these peripheral coastal areas were not safe and that the Civil War was literally capable of traveling very far north.

You can read more about the event here.