Joshua Lawrence Chamberlan: The Bowdoin College Site

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Joshua L. Chamberlain to "Dear Father" [Joshua Chamberlain], Brunswick, February 12, 1865.


Chamberlain's Petersburg wound caused him severe pain, but he managed a rather quick recovery. By November of 1864, Chamberlain had returned to the Army, only to fall ill again. He returned home to Brunswick in hopes of returning for the renewal of the campaign in the spring of 1865. Chamberlain's father, also named Joshua, wished his son would remain in Maine, to accept a position as Collector of Customs in nearby Bath, Maine.  In the following letter, Chamberlain writes his father describing his family and his future plans, which he hopes include a return to the Union Army.

Brunswick, Feby. 12th 1865.

Dear Father,

Though still confined mostly to my room, I am fast recovering, and my proper caution think I shall be able to get away by the first of next week. I am anxious to be back with my command; if I am to hold my position there I want to be at any post. The campaign will soon open, + it will open strong.

  I have been considering the past week whether to accept the office of Collector of Customs in the District of Bath, which has been

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offered me. I believe it is considered a very good position, second only to the similar one in Portland held by Governor Washburn.[1]

  I do not at present encourage the idea, preferring, if possible, to continue my duties in the Field, where my services were never more needed, or more valuable than now. I shall probably resign my professorship here this summer, and be ready to throw myself on the current of affairs, + either remain in the military service (as is most congenial to my temperament) or strike into some other enterprise of a more bold + stirring character than a College chair

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affords. I take no steps at present, waiting to see how my wounds are going to turn.

  I enjoyed your letter much, but was sorry to hear, both from you + from Mother, that Thomas[2] was so restless + roving while at home. However, I think you need have no fears of his indulging any incorrect habits whatever.

  He annoys me chiefly by being too sensitive, + allowing a few cowardly fellows disturb his peace of mind. It is more creditable and more safe to have such men enemies than friends, + in my opinion it will be a good thing for him to have to stand his hand among men just as they come.

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  Fanny + the baby are doing well. We should all be glad to see Mother if she will make us a visit, though we are in no particular need of her care + attention. We have a warm house, which she will appreciate, + plenty of things in it, + I think she might enjoy a visit well, if disposed to come. I do not think it advisable for me to go to Brewer this time, as I am so much over my time of leave for the army.

  Your aff. Son

   Lawrence

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Citation: Pejepscot Historical Society, Joshua L. Chamberlain Collection, Joshua L. Chamberlain Letterbook, Brunswick, Maine.

Index Terms: Bath, Maine; Army; Chamberlain, Fanny; Collector of Customs; Civil War; Chamberlain, Joshua; Washburn, Israel; Portland; Chamberlain, Thomas


[1] Israel Washburn, Governor of Maine from 1861-1863.

[2] Thomas Chamberlain, Joshua Chamberlain’s young brother who served with him in the Union Army.


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