While in command of the Rutledge, Maxwell served in the Federation-Cardassian War. One of the most harrowing experiences he faced during this time was the massacre at Setlik III. His wife, children and many colleagues were killed during the fierce battle.
By 2367, Maxwell had moved on, in command of the Phoenix. Still harboring a simmering hatred for the Cardassians while being haunted by his dead family and colleagues, he took what he felt was pre-emptive actions against the Cardassians, believing they were secretly building up munitions and bases to prepare for another war with the Federation. In his strikes, he killed approximately 700 Cardassians in the Cuellar system on both station-side and on starships, destroyed a warship and supply ship, killing a further 650 Cardassians, and nearly opened fire on another supply ship in the Kelrabi system. USS Enterprise-D Captain Jean-Luc Picard refused to be drawn in to the conflict, even threatening to open fire on the Phoenix to stop war. In the end, former Rutledge, now Enterprise crewman Miles O'Brien convinced his former commanding officer to stand down. Maxwell obliged, turning himself over to the Enterprise to await a court martial. (TNG: "The Wounded")
In 2370, Maxwell was in command of Earth Spacedock, in an attempt to redeem himself after his stint with the USS Phoenix. Unfortunately, he was caught assisting the Maquis. To make matters worse, Section 31 intervened and captured Maxwell with intentions on handing him over to the Obsidian Order. They hoped the transaction would bridge the gap between organizations and allow both sides to work together. Fortunately, Commander Sith caught wind of this and saved Maxwell before it was too late.
Maxwell was court-martialed for his actions, but not discharged from Starfleet. His legal team had cited similar actions taken by James T. Kirk, even though such actions were frowned upon in the 24th century. He restricted to a desk job at Starfleet Command and was rumored to have done work for Starfleet Intelligence.
Following his court-martial, Maxwell was sentenced to five years confinement in the New Zealand Penal Settlement.
After the war's end in 2374, Maxwell fled Federation space and disappeared into the Demilitarized Zone. He joined the Maquis and led a cell, fighting against the Klingons and Cardassians. ("Vendetta Road")
As of 2375, Maxwell continued to serve time in prison for his actions during the Phoenix incident. His scheduled release date is unknown, but it is clear that he was not given a life sentence...much to the consternation of Gul Macet. ("The Thirteenth Order")
- TNG's "The Wounded" gave the impression that the Setlik III massacre took place during the late 2340s, but later evidence from the DS9 episode "Tribunal" indicated the year 2362. Many fans sites go by the information from "The Wounded" and place the attack in 2347, but others go by the (more concrete) timeline established in Deep Space Nine. Captain Maxwell's service dates and background represent that.