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Accession number 1995.003
Catalog Number 1995.003
Collection Pearce Civil War Collection
Object Name Letter
Title Chamberlain (Joshua Lawrence) Papers, 1862-1903
Creator Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence
Date Sept. 21, 1862
Dates of Creation Sept. 21, 1862
Scope & Content Three letters detailing the Civil War experiences of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.
The first letter dated Sunday, September 21, 1862 written to Chamberlain's wife Fanny describes his actions in the crossing of Antietam Creek and Sharpsburg and as he writes he is on the bank of the Potomac River on picket. "I am lying in a hollow where I am not much exposed, & really not at all disturbed…I can see plenty of dead & wounded men lying around, from where I sit. As soon as it can be done we are going to rescue some wounded who are calling to us from the rebel shore." Some of the letter was written directly after the battle and the rest on the 21st of September, a few days later.
Another letter was written on July 28, 1863, again to Chamberlain's wife Fanny. The Army of the Potomac, under the command of Meade had pursued Lee's army out of Maryland and into Virginia after Gettysburg and paused to rest for several days. "We are halting here for a day or two & I find that the rest gives me opportunity to discover that I am not so well as I imagined when bugles were sounding the 'forward', & we were charging through forests & up mountain sides to clear the enemy out, as has been our daily experience for a month. I have sent up an application for 'sick leave.'" In November of that year Chamberlain was sent to Washington for treatment of malaria.
The last letter was written on May 12th 1902, long after the end of the Civil War. Chamberlain received an inquiry about the final surrender of arms and colors of General Lee's army at Appomattox Court House from J. K. Cole. In response, Chamberlain indicates that he consulted his "war papers" and "contemporaneous memoranda" as well as "collateral testimony." He proceeds to describe events leading to Chamberlain's receipt of the flag of truce from Lee which he then sent on to his superiors and hostilities ceased. Once the announcement of Lee's surrender was made the troops went into bivouac while preparations were made for the formal surrender. On April 13 the formal surrender ceremony took place. Chamberlain ordered his Colonels to have the troops come from "order arms" to the marching salute of "carry arms" as the Confederate troops marched by. General Gordon, seeing this ordered his troops to do the same in passing the Union line. According to Chamberlain the stacking of arms and laying down of colors took all day. In the evening the broken cartridges which were left in the street were burned and "by this lurid light the last of Lee's army passes from history."
Finding Aids Available in the archives or online at
People Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence
Lee, Robert E.
Meade, George Gordon
Cole, J. F.
Chamberlain, Fanny (Mrs. Joshua Lawrence)
Search Terms Sharpsburg, Maryland
20th Maine Infantry
Battle of Antietam
Battle of Gettysburg
Surrender at Appomattox Courthouse
Credit line Pearce Civil War Collection
Copyrights The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110 Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet:

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.