Joshua Lawrence Chamberlan: The Bowdoin College Site


Joshua L. Chamberlain to Frank A. Garnsey,
Brunswick, Maine, January 18, 1899.

Chamberlain repeatedly found himself asked to publish his Civil War experiences, especially those regarding Gettysburg and Appomattox. Chamberlain would ultimately publish both of these accounts, the former in Hearsts Magazine and the latter as a book entitled The Passing of the Armies. Chamberlain had not always been so willing to publish his accounts. Initially, he was more interested in the profits made from lectures on his experiences. Publishing his thoughts would have deprived him of a lucrative source of income.

Brunswick, January 18th. 1899.

        Frank A. Garnsey;

Dear Comrade:-

Your kind answer to my inquiry is received as I return from Governor Dingleyís funeral.[1] Otherwise I would have answered your suggestions before. I thank you for giving me the address of General Gordon[2]; it happened that I received a letter from him just after I had written you.

  I thank you also for your invitation to come over to the lecture of General Gordon; I will make every endeavor to be with you then.

  Your suggestion about an article from me on the subject of the surrender for publication touches a proposition now before us for General Gordon and me to give our lectures on the surrender in close connection in various places. It was on this point that I wished to confer with Gen. Gordon before he made more engagements. You know I wrote a lecture on this subject soon after the event, and have given it widely in New England and in other States;, not very much, however within 20 years. The renewal of a demand for this for a new generation, in connection with General Gordonís on the same subject, shows that people still feel an interest to hear the old story, and perhaps to see and hear two actors in that impressive scene. Neither of us knew of the otherís writing on the same subject; and I presume it is as true of his as of mine, that nothing is changed in our original account. No new light was needed be either of us. We spoke from knowledge.

  Your suggestion raises the question whether such an arrangement might not be possible for you, and perhaps more useful to you than what you suggest. I donít know what your plans and arrangements are about your lectures. By good rights mine ought to precede his, for the sake of observing historical order and scenic "perspective". There may not be time for this, however and I do not know that this order is absolutely necessary, But I can well see that by having us consecutively, some, perhaps many, would patronize your "entertainment" who might not be drawn to either this or mine alone.

  For my part, it would be far easier to give my lecture then to write a "cooked over" paper on the same subject. Besides, I am likely to give my lecture in various places, and I do not quite like to "cut the heart of it" by publication beforehand.

  But I wish to be of all the service to you possible; sympathizing with all your interests, and almost belong to you, representing my old home.

  Kindly let me know what your wishes and plans are touching on this point. I can take any evening after time sufficient for arrangements and due notice. I venture this suggestion, not for my own advantage, for I have class enough to lecture, but to serve you in the most effective way. This measure might give new impetus to your patronage of General Gordonís lecture.

With warmest regard,

Yours in F.C. & L;

J. L. Chamberlain

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

Index Terms: Gordon, John B.; Appomattox Court House; Publication; Civil War; Garnsey, Frank; Surrender

[1] Nelson Dingley, Governor of Maine in 1874.

[2] General John B. Gordon, a Confederate General from Georgia who surrendered the Confederate infantry forces to Joshua Chamberlain at Appomattox.

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