Joshua Lawrence Chamberlan: The Bowdoin College Site


Joshua L. Chamberlain to "My dear Sae" [Sarah (Chamberlain) Farrington], Hatcher's Run, March 9, 1865.

In Philadelphia, on his way back to the front in the spring of 1865, Chamberlain underwent an operation on his troublesome Petersburg wound from the previous June. In this letter to his sister, Chamberlain expresses his firm belief that it was the right choice to make, and asks Sae to try to alleviate the concerns of their father and mother. Despite his sincere desire to return to the front, Chamberlain also confides in his sister the desire to return home and enjoy the company of his family. This letter also reveals Chamberlain's adherence to Victorian ideals of manhood and honor. These values steered Chamberlain toward the war in the first place, and kept him coming back each time he was wounded.

Head Qrs. 1st Brigade

Hatcher's Run

March 9th 1865

My dear Sae,

I have been back about ten days now, and find the change very agreeable so far as my health is concerned. I was detained in Philadelphia by the state of my wounds; but that misfortune proved a good fortune; for besides the warm courtesies and compliments I received from every body there, I found the services of Dr. Pancoast - the most skilful surgeon in the United States - not only relieved my existing disabilities, but put me in the way of a more rapid recovery.

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You can not imagine how favorable this kind of life is to my health. One would not think me fit to walk a half mile if I was at home; but here I ride as fast + far as the best, and ask no favors. I have no doubt that my recovery will be greatly promoted by my return to the field, and I do not in the least regret my choice. I shall not feel obliged to lead any more charges, unless it becomes necessary, and hope to escape any further injuries. I have no insane desire to deprive my little family of my protection + support I assure you. On the contrary I look forward with delight to a speedy return to the happiness and affection of my little home.

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No man's ever was dearer or more blest. And to no man could it be a greater sacrifice to leave them far away and face the dangers which in threatening me threaten them tenfold. Still let me say the course I take is not only that which honor + manliness prompt, but the one which will prove best for them + for all who belong to me or to whom I belong.

Please understand that my wounds are now doing finely, and I am encouraged to hope I may not have to leave the field again till we finish the campaign. I was sorry indeed to lose the pleasure of visiting you, but you know I did not set foot out of doors while I was at home.

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Give my dutiful love to Father + Mother, + my undiminished regards to all. Tom[1] is finely. He has been making a great dash with his horsemanship today at a grand Review in the presence of spectators, ladies +c. His horse "slumped" into the treacherous ground while he was going on the "wings of the mind" + fell + rolled over + over; but Tom alighted on his feet as light as a cat + won great praise from all. Ask Aunt Hannah if I do not owe her a years interest? Hoping I hear from you soon + that you are well.

Your afft. brother,


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Citation: George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, Bowdoin College, Joshua L. Chamberlain Collection, M27.

Index Terms: Manhood; Honor; Philadelphia; Pancoast, Dr.; Chamberlain, Tom; Victorian Ideals; Civil War; United States; Hannah

[1] Tom Chamberlain, Joshua's brother, who served with him during the Civil War.

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