Not long after Gettysburg, in August 1863, Chamberlain was given permanent command of the Fifth Corps' Third Brigade, by General Griffin. He did not hold command for long, though--the accumulating stress and strain finally broke his health, and he went to Washington at the end of July, and eventually back to Maine for fifteen days' sick leave. He returned to the field in August, back to command of the Third Brigade--still as a Colonel, although Generals Griffin, Ames, and Oliver O. Howard--and even Vice President Hannibal Hamlin--actively campaigned for Chamberlain's promotion to Brigadier General. But nothing came of all these recommendations--supposedly because of an active dislike of the Fifth Corps by some of the "powers-that-be" in Washington, going back to the days of Generals Fitz John Porter and George McClellan.
In November 1863, while camping out in a snowstorm, Chamberlain came down with a recurrence of "malarial fever"; he spent two months recovering from this, and returned home to Maine for December and January. In February 1864, Chamberlain was assigned to court-martial duty in Washington DC, and in Trenton, New Jersey. It wasn't long before such duty began to wear on him, and he began actively campaigning for a return to field duty.
"The Bloody Angle", near Spotsylvania Court House, VA.
On yet another gorgeous Virginia fall day, Cheryl and I were able to walk around this peaceful field, looking at the remains of trenches, and the foundation of the building that served as the Union Second Corps' headquarters. Hard to believe this field was the site of some of the most vicious fighting in the entire Civil War!
Chamberlain himself did not fight at "The Bloody Angle" (also known as "The Mule Shoe"); he just missed the fighting here and in the nearby Wilderness--although the 20th Maine fought in the latter fight, and took a beating. Chamberlain did get into the fight at nearby Pole Cat Creek, however.
"The hammering business had been hard on the hammer."(2)
Remains of Confederate fortifications, near Petersburg, VA.
I use this picture to represent the extensive trenches and fortifications that once enveloped Petersburg, VA--site of an almost-ten month siege, from June 1864 to March 1865. For myself, I was struck by how extensive these "forts" were. They were made mostly of earth, and are now overgrown with trees and brush.
In early June 1864, Chamberlain was given command of the Fifth Corps' newly-reorganized First Brigade, consisting of five veteran Pennsylvania regiments from the now-gone First Corps: the 121st, 142nd, 143rd, 149th, and 150th--and a brand-new regiment, the 187th Pennsylvania. This brigade became known as the "Keystone Brigade". At first, there was some suspicion regarding this new brigade commander, but Chamberlain won the men over after meeting all the officers of the brigade.
About mid-June, Chamberlain found he could not shake a nagging feeling that he would be wounded in the abdomen. It was a new feeling for him, but he dealt with it by taking his blanket roll from behind his saddle and strapping it in front of him--such little protection as it was.
Sadly, that "feeling" would come true on June 18, 1864. His "Keystone Brigade" found itself in an exposed position--out in front of the whole Army of the Potomac!--facing a bluff on high ground called "Rives' Salient". Ordered to attack this position alone, Chamberlain thought there must be some mistake. To attack as ordered would be suicide, indeed. He wrote a note to his superiors, hoping they would understand his particular situation:
After a somewhat difficult exchange with Brigadier General Lysander Cutler (who had been ordered to support Chamberlain's exposed left flank), Chamberlain went back to his men. The attack began shortly thereafter. Chamberlain led his men on foot, made a half-turn towards his line, motioning with his saber for his men to turn left (because of the din of battle, no one could hear shouted commands). At that moment, a ricocheting minie ball struck Chamberlain below his right hip and went through his body, expanding and tearing while traveling diagonally to his left hip, before stopping near the surface. The initial pain he felt was in his back, and his first thought was:
But as he saw the blood gushing from both sides, he felt better--oddly enough. Fearing his men would falter if they saw him go down, he rammed his saber point into the ground and leaned against it, holding himself upright. Once his men were past, the loss of blood became too much, and Chamberlain fell on one knee, then the other, and finally collapsed to the ground. Two of his staff officers managed to pull him off the field, but he lay in the dirt for over an hour, feeling his blood seep into the ground, and hearing the cries of his men as they went to the slaughter.
Chamberlain was finally removed from the field on a stretcher, borne by four men from Captain John Bigelow's Ninth Massachusetts Artillery. When these men came to his side, Chamberlain told them to leave him be, believing himself to be mortally wounded. One of the artillerymen replied:
The 20th Maine, for its part, did not participate in the attack this day. But Captain Tom Chamberlain learned of his brother's wounding, and set off to find him, accompanied by the 20th's surgeon, Dr. Abner O. Shaw, and the 44th New York's surgeon, Dr. Morris Townsend. Tom and the surgeons searched for Chamberlain for hours, finally locating him at the Division field hospital, three miles behind the lines. They were told Chamberlain would not survive--the minie ball had done tremendous damage; it severed blood vessels, nicked the urethra and bladder and crushed bone before it stopped. That night, both General G.K. Warren (Fifth Corps commander) and General Griffin visited Chamberlain and told him their recommendation for promotion to Brigadier General would be forwarded immediately. That pleased Chamberlain greatly; the promotion would gratify his family and friends.
No--these are NOT x-rays of Chamberlain's hip region! But it does illustrate the path the bullet traveled, and what areas of his lower body were most affected.
Photo sent by David James.
Do not copy without his express written permission.
All night Doctors Shaw and Townsend labored, trying to save Chamberlain's life. At one point, they stopped, believing they were only prolonging his agony. But Chamberlain, with a great will to live, urged them to go on. The bullet was removed, and the doctors managed to patch him back together again, concluding that there was a chance for recovery.
The next day, in spite of horrible pain and believing he was on his deathbed, Chamberlain wrote this letter to Fannie:
Chamberlain was eventually transferred to City Point, VA, via stretcher, then placed on a hospital ship by Dr.Townsend, and taken to the Naval Hospital at Annapolis, MD. The news of his wounding and critical condition finally reached Maine, and it threw his family and friends into a state of frenzy. His mother, his sister Sae, and Fannie's new stepmother Helen Root Adams, alternately cried and prayed for Chamberlain's recovery. His brother John hurried to Annapolis, when news of his brother's condition came. By the time John arrived, however, the crisis period had passed, and Chamberlain began to heal quickly.
If anything good can be said to have come out of this situation, it did--in the form of the long-delayed promotion to Brigadier General, by no one other than Lt. General U.S. Grant himself. Grant later told Chamberlain that he'd never made a promotion on the field of battle before. Grant wrote:
In September 1864, Chamberlain was sent home to Brunswick, to recover. But he was anxious to return to the field, to "finish the business". Remarkably, he did return to Petersburg on November 18--although still unable to ride a horse, or walk unassisted a hundred yards. On his arrival, he discovered that his old First Brigade command broken up and scattered. Instead of five Pennsylvania regiments, he now commanded two new regiments: the 185th New York and the 198th Pennsylvania. His brigade had gone from the largest in the Fifth Corps, to the smallest.
Chamberlain and his brigade participated in the "Weldon Railroad Raid", which was intended to further cut supplies to Lee's army around Petersburg. But the strain of this short campaign made Chamberlain realize he'd come back to the field too soon, and he underwent further surgery on his wounds in Philadelphia, in January 1865--and he headed once more back to Maine to recover.
During his recovery period, Chamberlain was offered a tempting position as Collector of Customs for the District of Bath. He thought about it carefully, but decided to return to the army, if possible. Naturally, his family opposed his return--his mother, in a New Year's letter, begged him to take care of himself. But in a letter to his parents the day before he returned to the army, Chamberlain attempted to explain his motives for going back:
Me, standing by the Virginia state historical marker, at the site of the Quaker Road battle, outside Petersburg, VA.
Photo taken by Cheryl Pula.
This is me, standing by the marker. The moment Cheryl and I saw this marker, I became quite excited! If you look close, you can see Chamberlain's name on the fifth line down. Off to the right of the sign was the field of the Lewis Farm, where the fight took place. One could still see an old farm building, hidden by some trees in the middle of the field.
I shall let Chamberlain himself tell the story of the fight at the Quaker Road, March 29, 1865:
Chamberlain was covered with blood--both his own and his horse, Charlemagne's. He must have looked frightful to General Griffin, who came up and offered a supporting arm.
The bullet had ripped through Chamberlain's sleeve to the elbow, and injured his bridle arm, and traveled around his ribs before going out the back seam of his coat. Had it not struck the field orders book and the hand mirror in his pocket, and had not Charlemagne reared up when he did, it would surely have killed Chamberlain.
Chamberlain did Mark Twain one better: he got to read his obituary TWICE! First, after his wounding at Petersburg in June 1864, and now at the Quaker Road, in March 1865!
Chamberlain saw what needed to be done--he and Charlemagne dashed into the fight, rallying his men and turning the tide of the battle. And then a strange thing happened...
Chamberlain's dash had by now exhausted poor Charlemagne, so Chamberlain was forced to dismount. Moving closer to the front, he was suddenly confronted by Confederate soldiers, who wished to take him prisoner. He realized he had to think fast:
The battle for the Quaker Road was over--but at a great cost. In the course of the battle, Chamberlain lost one of his subordinates, a young man from Philadelphia named Major Charles Maceuen. In fact, he had been shot down literally before Chamberlain's eyes. After the battle was done, Chamberlain walked around the field, until he found the young officer's body:
For myself, I wonder what was going through Chamberlain's mind, as he surveyed the grisly scene before him:
Me, standing by the Virginia state historical marker, describing the battle of the White Oak Road, outside Petersburg, VA.
Photo taken by Cheryl Pula.
It didn't take Cheryl and I long to reach this spot from the Quaker Road--probably no more than ten minutes. I was struck by how narrow the actual road was; and it was probably no wider now than it was in 1865!
It rained the night of March 29, 1865--so much so it turned the unpaved roads to thick goo, making it impossible for either army to move. The fight resumed March 31, and grew in intensity. At one point, the Fifth Corps' Second and Third Divisions were hit hard by a surprise Confederate attack:
In the ensuing action, Chamberlain's small brigade not only took the lost ground back, but also a little extra. But the battle proved to be the beginning of the undoing of Fifth Corps commander General Warren. Due to many conflicting communications (and some bruised egos), matters were coming to a head, and the next day would bring personal disaster to a brave officer.
Me, at the marker for the battle of Five Forks, outside Petersburg, VA.
Photo taken by Cheryl Pula.
When I first heard about this pivotal battle--sometimes called the "Waterloo of the Confederacy"--I thought it was fought near a town called "Five Forks". But it's not--it's a place where, literally, five roads come together! I couldn't get over that....
This battle, which marked the real "beginning of the end" of the Confederacy, also marked the beginning of an ongoing controversy: General Philip Sheridan's removal (with General Grant's apparent approval) of General Gouvernour K. Warren, as commander of the Fifth Corps. (Warren would be replaced by First Division commander General Griffin, and subsequently Chamberlain, as First Brigade commander, would step up and take Griffin's place as First Division commander.) Sheridan did not want the Fifth Corps as his cavalry's infantry support; he really wanted the Sixth Corps. But the latter was too far away to be recalled, so "Little Phil" had to settle for the Fifth Corps.
The fighting intensified in front of Chamberlain's First Division, near the 198th Pennsylvania, commanded by Major Edwin Glenn. Chamberlain saw him and Colonel Gustavus Sniper, of the 185th New York, on the flank of Rebel guns at the Five Forks works. What happened next would haunt Chamberlain for the rest of his life:
The thought that he had ordered Major Glenn to such a needless death cut through Chamberlain like a knife:
After the battle, Chamberlain kept his promise: he sent, by special messenger, his recommendation for Glenn's brevet promotion. Glenn died three days later, a Brevet Colonel of U.S.Volunteers.
With the Union victory at Five Forks, the way was open for the capture of both Richmond and Petersburg. General Grant ordered an all-out attack on the Confederate lines at Petersburg, which broke through, and forced the evacuation of Richmond by the Army of Northern Virginia. Thus began the great last pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia--or what was left of it. Chamberlain and the rest of the Fifth Corps joined the AOP in that pursuit, but fought no major battle, missing the action at Sailor's Creek. There was one amusing incident, involving Chamberlain and his faithful, battle-scarred horse Charlemagne, that happened on April 8th:
Me, standing in front of the Wilmer McLean house, site of the Confederate surrender, April 9, 1865, Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, VA.
Photo taken by Cheryl Pula.
The day Cheryl and I visited Appomattox Court House, there were but a handful of visitors about. I remember going into the McLean House and looking into the parlor, where Generals Grant and Lee met. As I looked inside, I could not believe how small the room was! The paintings of the scene all made it look so huge.
After an all-night march, the weary men of the Fifth Corps--along with the Second and Sixth Corps--finally cornered what was left of the Army of Northern Virginia, near the village of Appomattox Court House. Sheridan's cavalry had been fighting a pitched battle with the Confederates, and needed assistance from any available infantry. Chamberlain was concerned he would be receiving a flank attack himself, when suddenly he sees a sight he never expected to see:
Unknown to either Chamberlain or his men, a truce had been called.
Chamberlain is stunned by the word: "Surrender!" He thinks of how many times it was so close, yet snatched away--how often dreamed of, but never realized. He comes to his senses long enough to reply:
Yes, the flag of truce had come in, but just then a loud cannon-shot from the direction of Appomattox crashes into the Union line, killing Lt. Hiram Clark of the 185th New York--a young officer in Chamberlain's brigade, whom he admired very much. Clark became one of the last men killed in the Army of the Potomac.
As news of the surrender spreads, however, the Union troops go absolutely nuts--loud cheers erupt, men jump up and down, caps and knapsacks fly upward. Finally, after four long years, the war is over.
Me, standing in front of the "Peers House", near the "Surrender Triangle", Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, VA.
Photo taken by Cheryl Pula.
Cheryl and I strolled through this reconstructed village, peeking into various buildings. But when we got to this corner, I wanted to burst into tears. I had seen a painting by artist Don Troiani in the old courthouse, which depicted the surrender ceremony--and which showed Chamberlain and his men positioned near where I now stood. I was seized by the thought: "He was here! He was here!" "He", meaning Chamberlain.
Speaking of the "Peers House": I have a friend who works at Appomattox Court House, named Patrick Schroeder. He is the Park Historian there--and he also portrays George Peers, who lived in the above house. Peers was a prominent Appomattox citizen. And on a recent visit to Syracuse, Patrick shared the following anecdote about Mr. Peers, and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain:
While Chamberlain and his men were camped in the Appomattox area, George Peers--a citizen of Appomattox--invited Chamberlain to dine with him. Years after the war, Mr. Peers renimisced to a writer about that meal. He spoke very highly of Chamberlain. And he was especially grateful to the General for bringing REAL COFFEE, which was a wartime scarcity in the South!
Although the surrender itself was signed April 9, 1865, General Grant had decided that a surrender ceremony should be held, in order to make certain to the former Rebels that, indeed, the war was over. They were to hand over their weapons and their battle colors, but keep their sidearms and their horses. A surprise, and a great honor, was in store for Chamberlain:
So it happened that this VOLUNTEER OFFICER was chosen by General Grant himself, out of all the officers (volunteer AND Regular army) in the Army of the Potomac, to receive the "arms and colors" of the Army of Northern Virginia. In later years, when asked why he thought he'd been chosen for this honor, Chamberlain would say that he figured General Griffin had something to do with it. Upon hearing this news, Chamberlain asked the new Fifth Corps commander one thing: he wanted to be given the First Division's Third Brigade--which included the 20th Maine--because he had shared so many battles with them, and wanted them beside him, in this historic hour. Griffin agreed, and transferred Chamberlain to the Third Brigade.
The ceremony took place three days later, on April 12, 1865--four years to the day since the first shots were fired on Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
No--there was no color photography at Appomattox in April 1865! This picture was taken at the 140th anniversary reenactment at Appomattox, VA, in April 2005. The reenactor certainly looks like Chamberlain. And I think it gives one a great idea, of what the moments before the ceremony must have been like.
Special thanks to my friend Mindy Eckler, for sending me this photo--and to my dear friend Thomas Fleming for reducing the size for me!
Do not use without Mrs. Eckler's written permission.
"It was now the morning of the 12th of April. I had been ordered to have my lines formed for the ceremony at sunrise. It was a chill gray morning, depressing to the senses. But our hearts made warmth. We formed along the principal street...to face the last line of battle, and receive the last remnant of the arms and colors of that great army which ours had been created to confront for all that death can do for life. We were remnants also: Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York; veterans, and replaced veterans; cut to pieces, cut down, consolidated, divisions into brigades, regiments into one, gathered by state origin."(26)
Chamberlain now went back to the Third Brigade:
The stage was now set. What would happen in the next few minutes would cause some controversy in the North for Chamberlain, but would endear him to the South:
The Confederates broke camp for the last time, and made their way up the Richmond-Lynchburg Stage Road, to where Chamberlain and his men waited. Leading the way was General Lee's representative: General John B. Gordon--a volunteer officer like Chamberlain, who had also risen through the ranks, and who was also much-wounded in battle:
The ceremony continues all day long, as Chamberlain and his men watch the remnants of this once-great army file in, and stack their muskets, and lay their battle-flags down. He sees remnants of storied regiments, brigades, divisions and corps--such as Cobb's Georgia Legion, Bushrod Johnson's Division, Gordon's Georgians, Ransom's North Carolinians, A.P. Hill's old corps--and Longstreet's First Corps! Men whom he faced in battle from Antietam to Five Forks. Emotions ran high on both sides, as men laid down their worn, but much-cherished, battle flags. Chamberlain ended up playing a part in one such instance:
This is the old courthouse building, which today serves as the Visitor Center at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park. It faces one side of the "Surrender Triangle", in the center of the village.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, VA.
Photo courtesy of David Lepkowski. Do not use without his express written permission.
The solemnity and sadness of the occasion was leavened by a rather comic scene, involving a discussion between Chamberlain and Confederate Brigadier General Henry Wise, a former governor of Virginia-and the man responsibile for hanging abolitionist John Brown in 1859. Chamberlain heard a commotion down the line, and went to investigate--and found Wise arguing with some of his men. Chamberlain sought to help the situation, and remarked to Wise that the good conduct of the troops on both sides boded well for the nation's future. Wise became belligerent:
As Wise looked at Chamberlain, he noticed the rips and holes in Chamberlain's coat and sleeve--"souvenirs" of his encounter with Wise's men at the Quaker Road--and asked him where he got them. When Chamberlain told him, Wise retorted that he was "fighting three army corps" and "thought it prudent to retire". When Chamberlain told him that he was up against three regiments, Wise angrily replied that he knew what he saw, and proceeded to lecture Chamberlain on the "legal way" to make out paroles! By this time, it had become a bizarre comedy, and staff members on both sides could not control their laughter. In later years, Chamberlain recalled the incident, using a biblical pun--but not mentioning Wise by name:
Finally, it was done, the long day over.
Many things happened in the days and weeks between Appomattox and the army's return to Washington. While camped outside the town of Farmville,VA, on Easter Sunday, 1865, Chamberlain and the rest of the Fifth Corps received the shocking news of the assassination of President Lincoln on April 14. Fearing the worst, he closed off the camps, hoping his men would not wreak vengeance upon the local population. A "funeral in the field" was held on April 19th--the same day as the state funeral in the capital--and was the scene of a potentially explosive incident:
After some solemn music by the First Division's German band, Father Egan rose to deliver the oration:
As Father Egan went on, some of the men began to pale, and instinctively started to reach for their stacked muskets. Chamberlain, seated near the padre on the platform, knew he had to act quickly:
Chamberlain had defused a dangerous situation, and the funeral ended without further incident.
In the days following the funeral, Chamberlain became something of a "military governor" in the region between Petersburg and Dinwiddie County. During the nearly two weeks he served in this capacity, food was distributed to civilians who would give the "oath of allegiance" to the Union, and to those in need. He also had to restore some semblance of order in the countryside. During this time, a very humorous incident occurred, brought about by the appearance of an unnamed "Belle of Dinwiddie", who was brought in to take the oath of allegiance by Chamberlain's youngest brother Tom, who was serving as Provost Marshal. Evidently Tom had a crush on the young woman--and big brother Joshua was also somewhat dazzled by her beauty!
After some verbal sparring back and forth between Joshua and the "belle" (whom he described as "the indomitable Portia", for her skill in debating!), she agrees to take the oath. Chamberlain remarks:
Alas, the "relationship" did not last for Tom, and no more mention is made of the lady in question. The Fifth Corps, and the rest of the AOP, made its way through Petersburg and Richmond, bypassing the old battlefield at Fredericksburg. While camped near Hanover Court House, a bizarre incident occurred:
Charlemagne had discovered the bodies of some long-dead soldiers from a previous battle. These bones were gathered up into old cracker-boxes and taken back with the army to Washington.
The Army of the Potomac finally arrived in the Washington area on May 12, 1865. The Fifth Corps was assigned a permanent camp on Arlington Heights, near the former mansion of Robert E. Lee. The next several days were spent preparing for a final great review of the armies, plus dealing with the many details and paperwork needed to muster out and transport hundreds of thousands of men. Chamberlain received a most welcome visitor during this time: his father-in-law, the Rev. George Adams, who gave him much-longed-for news of Fannie and the children back in Maine.
On the evening of May 22, a large farewell party was held in the Fifth Corps' First Division camp, to honor General Griffin. Four huge hospital tents had been put together, to accommodate Division officers and their invited guests. For the occasion, Chamberlain had designed, and Tiffany's in New York had created, a pin in enameled gold of a red Maltese cross against a white background--a miniature replica of the Division's flag. The cross was outlined in diamonds, with a center diamond costing about $1000. Chamberlain was chosen by his fellow officers to make the presentation speech, and he pinned the badge to his commander's uniform. Griffin was quite overcome by the honor paid, and simply bowed his thanks to the assemblage.
Not much sleep was had by anyone that night. The Fifth Corps was awakened at 2:00am on May 23, 1865, to get across Long Bridge from Arlington Heights, to be in Washington at 4:00 am. They had to wait several hours for the review to begin for them (they were proceeded by the Ninth Corps, with a division of the Nineteenth; the cavalry; and some smaller, specialized units. The Second Corps would then follow the Fifth Corps, bringing up the rear). Finally, at 9:00 am, the signal gun sounded to begin this, the Last Review of the Army of the Potomac.
"The Proffered Wreath", by Don Stivers.
Macrophoto of limited-edition art print, taken by Cheryl Pula.
This illustrates an incident that happened to Chamberlain during the Grand Review, described below:
"Now a girlish form, robed white as her spirit, presses close; modest, yet resolute, eyes fixed on her purpose. She reaches up towards me a wreath of rare flowers, close-braided, fit for viking's arm-ring, or victor's crown. How could I take it? Sword at the "carry" and left hand tasked, trying to curb my excited horse...He had been thrice shot down under me; he had seen the great surrender. But this unaccustomed vision--he had never seen a woman coming so near before,--moved him strangely. Was this the soft death-angel--did he think?--calling us again, as in other days? For as often as she lifted the garland to the level of my hand, he sprang clear from earth: heavenwards, doubtless--but was not heaven nearer just then? I managed to bring down his fore-feet close beside her, and dropped my sword-point almost to her feet, with a bow so low I could have touched her cheek. Was it the garland's breath or hers that floated to my lips? My horse trembled. I might have solved the mystery, could I have trusted him. But he would not trust me....All this passed like a flash in act; but it was not quite so brief in effect. From that time my horse was shy of girls--sharp eyes out for soft eyes--I dare say, for his master's peace and safety!"(41)
I can well imagine Chamberlain smiling to himself, as he wrote that...
When Chamberlain came opposite the reviewing stand--where the new President, Andrew Johnson, his cabinet, ambassadors and other dignitaries were situated--he was invited to dismount and watch the review--which he did. As he watched, he saw in his mind's eye not only the living, but the dead.
Here came the First Division, Fifth Corps, beginning with the Third Brigade:
"These are of the men I stood with at Antietam, and Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville and Gettysburg. Of that regiment--the 20th Maine--a third were left on the slopes of Round Top, and a third again in the Wilderness, at Spotsylvania, the North Anna, Cold Harbor and the Chickahominy; to-day mingling its ranks the remnants of the noble 2nd and 1st Sharpshooters. Beside it still, the 118th Pennsylvania...More Pennsylvania veterans yet; the storied 83rd and 91st, and brilliant 155th Zouave, and the shadow of the stalwart 91st, gone, and 21st Cavalry passed on. With these the 1st and 16th Michigan...the keen-eyed 1st and 2nd Sharpshooters and proud relics of the 4th, left from the Wheat-field of Gettysburg...the trusted, sorely-tried 32nd Massachusetts, with unfaltering spirit and ranks made good from the best substance of the 18th..."(43)
"Now Gregory's New York Brigade,--the 187th, 188th, and 189th, young in order of number, but veteran in experience and honor; worthy of the list held yet in living memory, the 12th, 13th, 14th, 17th, 25th, and 44th, one by one gone before. (44)
"One more brigade yet, of this division; of the tested last that shall be first; the splendid 185th New York, and fearless, clear-brained Sniper still at their head; the stalwart fourteen-company regiment, the 198th Pennsylvania, its gallant field-officers gone,--brave veteran Sickel falling with shattered arm, and brilliant young adjutant Maceuen shot dead--both within touch of my hand in the sharp rally on the Quaker Road; and Major Glenn since commanding, cut down at the height of valor....leading a charge I ordered in a moment of supreme need..Each of these brigades had been severally in my command; and now they were mine all together, as I was theirs. So has passed this First Division,--and with it, part of my soul."(45)
Chamberlain also watched the passage of the Second Division of the Fifth Corps. Of that division's three brigades, only two regiments were left: the 140th and 146th New York, led by General Romeyn Ayres:
Then lastly, the Third Division. Chamberlain sees the 5th, 140th and 146th New York regiments, along with the 15th Artillery; along with commanders such as Henry Morrow (of the famous "Iron Brigade") and Richard Coulter of the 11th Pennsylvania. But he also notices that some are missing:
Chamberlain is so moved by seeing these men--those who fought with him that June 1864 day when he was so badly wounded--that he does something unorthodox:
And so it went. At the end of this momentous day, he could not seem to accept that this part of his life was over:
"The pageant has passed. The day is over. But we linger, loath to think we should see them no more together,--these men, these horses, these colors afield." (50)
The Army of the Potomac was officially disbanded as of June 28, 1865, but Chamberlain remained in camp, chosen as a brigade commander in the new Provisional Corps--it was rumored these "Provisionals" would be sent to Mexico with Phil Sheridan to help the French get their army out of that country. But as things turned out, they were not needed, and Chamberlain returned home to Brunswick in late July 1865--just in time for Bowdoin's commencement. He learned that General Grant was to be visiting Portland at the same time, so he invited his former commander to attend the commencement--causing quite a bit of excitement!
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was officially mustered out in August 1865, but applied for reinstatement, due to needed surgery for his Petersburg wound. His reinstatement was accepted, and he was finally mustered out January 15, 1866.
This is a new portrait of Major General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, by artist Andy Amato. I thank him again for his wonderful generosity, in letting me use it on my site.
Please do not copy, without express written permission from the artist.
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