Joshua Lawrence Chamberlan: The Bowdoin College Site

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Joshua L. Chamberlain to Hon. William C. Oates,
Brunswick, Maine, February 27, 1897


Following the Civil War, Joshua Chamberlain and William C. Oates led somewhat parallel lives. Both became Governors of their homes states, Maine and Alabama respectively. In addition, both men failed to gain the nomination of their respective political parties for runs for the United States Senate. After the war, the two men corresponded, reliving the details of their clash at Little Round Top. The following excerpt is the first page of correspondence [of unknown length] from Chamberlain, asking Oates to clarify details of their engagement on July 2, 1863.

Brunswick, Maine, February 27th. 1897.

Hon. William C. Oates;

My dear Sir:-

  I am having some controversy with some of the "Gettysburg Commission" of this State in regard to some points of our respective movements on the Round Tops on the afternoon and evening of July 2nd. 1863.

  They think it impossible that you should intend to say you came over the summit of the Great Round Top to attack our extreme left, than commanded by me. They think you and most of the Confederate commanders called Little Round Top the "mountain"; and their specific argument in your case is that the line of direction indicated by the position of our extreme left, and also the very great difficulty of surmounting the rugged sides of Great Round Top, make it almost certain that it was one of the lower spurs of the Round Top, and not its utmost summit which you you crossed in your advance [andnear] [and near] approach to our left.

  My right I was struck some little time before your regiment enveloped my left; the 47th. Ala. appeared to have Some troops, I think the 47th also had reached my right front before this. I think also, that some the attack of the Texas regiments ^ gradually I think extended over so far as to reach my right even before the 47th. struck. If I am correct, all the accounts I have seen harmonize. You could not, of course, have struck my line, as soon as the regiments which had more favorable ground to pass over, and your attack coming some little time later gave me the impression that it was by what I than ["caaled"] ["called"] apparently a new line "that the really heavy blow fell upon me which made me reel and recover so many times [1]

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

Index Terms: Little Round Top; Gettysburg; Alabama; Oates, William C. ; 20th Maine; 15th Alabama; 47th Alabama; Great Round Top; Civil War; Confederate


[1] This is only the first page of the typescript. The rest of the typescript has gone missing.


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