I Remember a Rebel Mob in Freedom

My mother, who as a young girl lived with relatives and attended the academy in Freedom, Maine, first told me the story of the night during the Civil War when a rebel mob threatened the home of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Williams. Mr. Williams himself related the incident to me in more detail.

Feelings were running high in the village during the war years. Although many of the young men had gone off to fight for the Union, a group of townspeople sympathetic to the southern cause had organized a military company and were holding drills. Mr. Williams and Dr. A. J. Billings, two of the town's leading citizens, decided that something should be done to put a stop to such treason. When Dr. Billings went to Augusta to enlist as a Surgeon in the army, he reported the matter to authorities, and marshals came to Freedom, arrested the leader of the rebel company and took him away.

Resentful, his followers gathered one dark night outside the Williams home and demanded that Mr. Williams come out. Mrs. Williams, an invalid, fearing that her husband might be killed, tried to dissuade him from leaving the house, but Mr. Williams was determined to find out who were the men in the crowd threatening him. He removed his glasses, pulled an old slouch hat well down over his forehead, donned a dark coat and slipped out the back door into the orchard. Circling the buildings, he came upon the mob from the rear and mingled with the men without being recognized.

The mob milled around a while, but, lacking leadership and courage, finally dispersed and went home. The rebel leader was imprisoned in Fort Halifax at Winslow until the end of the war, when he was released and allowed to return to Freedom.

Josephine M. York, Portland, Maine
from Historical Scrapbook Freedom Maine 1794-1976