JOHN MARSHALL BROWN, son of John Bundy and Ann Matilda (Greely) Brown, was born
in Portland, December 14, 1838. He attended the Portland Academy, Gould’s Academy, Bethel, and Phillips (Andover)
Academy, where he was chosen class orator. He entered Bowdoin College in the class of 1860, was winner of the declamation
prizes in his Sophomore and Junior years, and elected class orator at graduation. He studied law but was not admitted
to the Bar, having, August 29, 1862, been commissioned First Lieutenant and Adjutant of the Twentieth Regiment,
Maine Volunteer Infantry. This regiment, under command of Colonel Ames, was ordered at once to the front, and,
joining the Third Brigade, First Division, Fifth Corps, Army of the Potomac, participated in the battles of Antietam
and Fredericksburg. On the application of General Ayres, commanding the Artillery Reserve, and later the First
Brigade (regulars) of Sykes’ Division, Fifth Corps, Mr. Brown was detailed for staff duty and served in the battle
of Chancellorsville, was honorably mentioned in the official reports, and appointed Acting Assistant Adjutant General
on General Ayres’ staff.
June 23, 1863, Mr. Brown was appointed, by President Lincoln, Assistant Adjutant General of Volunteers, with rank
of Captain, and ordered to report to General Ames, now, on his promotion, in command of the First Brigade, Barlow’s
Division, Eleventh Corps. He served in the battle of Beverly Ford, where General Ames commanded a temporary division,
selected from the army for co-operation with the cavalry, and then rejoined the corps on the movement to Gettysburg.
July i, General Barlow having been severely wounded, General Ames took command of the division. In his report of
the operations of his troops he says: “Capt. J. M. Brown, my Assistant Adjutant General, rendered most valuable
services during the three days’ fighting; with great coolness and energy he ably seconded my efforts in repelling
the assault made by the enemy on the evening of the 2d.”
Some days later General Ames supported with his infantry the cavalry attack on Hagerstown and commanded the approaches
to the city. Having been assigned with his brigade to Gordon’s Division, he was ordered to South Carolina and there
participated in the siege of Fort Wagner and the movement on John’s Island. February 22 the brigade was ordered
to Florida, where General Ames was put in command of a provisional division of four brigades, covering the left
wing of the defenses of Jacksonville.
On March 26, 1864, Captain Brown was promoted to be Lieutenant-Colonel of the Thirty-second Regiment, Maine Volunteers,
and reported at once at Augusta. A portion of the regiment had already been sent to the front, and he followed
with the remaining companies. Colonel Wentworth being temporarily disabled, he marched the command to the North
Anna River, rejoining the other companies while the battle was in progress; commanded at Totopotomy and Cold Harbor
and the preliminary movements at Petersburg, where, June 12, he was severely, and at the time thought mortally,
wounded. September 23, 1864, the surgeons having decided that he could not return to duty for a long period, he
was discharged on account of physical disability from wounds received in action.” He was brevetted Colonel “for
distinguished gallantry in the battle of Gettysburg, Pa.,” and again “for gallant and meritorious services in the
battles before Petersburg, Va.,” and also Brigadier-General “for gallant and meritorious services during the war.”
Shortly after leaving the service he entered the firm of J. B. Brown & Sons, managers and owners of the Portland
Sugar Company. In 1865 he was elected a member of the Common Council of Portland and a member of the School Committee.
In 1866 he married Alida C. Carroll, of Washington, and in 1867 visited Europe, having been appointed Commissioner
to the Paris Exposition.
General Brown was much interested in the re-organization of the volunteer militia of the State during the administration
of General Chamberlain. He served on the staff as Aide-de-camp and Inspector-General, and later as Assistant Adjutant
General, Division Inspector, Colonel of the First Regiment, and Brigadier-General, commanding First Brigade. His
resignation of his commission of Brigadier-General was accepted, June 5, 1887, by Governor Robie in General Orders,
in which he speaks of “his eminent services in the interest of the Maine Volunteer Militia.” In 1893 he was appointed,
by Governor Cleaves, as one of the commission for revising the military code.
General Brown was one of the charter members of the Maine Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion,
and is one of the Council-in-chief of the Order for the United States. He was one of the founders and the first
President of the Portland Army and Navy Union. He was the President of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Association
and delivered the address on the occasion of the completion and surrender of the monument to the city. He was President
of the Maine Agricultural Society in 1878. He was for twenty-five years an Overseer of Bowdoin College and for
six years President of the Board He is a lay deputy from Maine to the General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal
Church in the United States, and the lay member from Maine of the Missionary Council. He is one of the Governing
Committee of the Maine Historical Society, has contributed several papers to its collections, and his library of
books relating to Maine is probably one of the most extensive in private bands. He is a corresponding member of
the Historical Societies of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.