Joshua Lawrence Chamberlan: The Bowdoin College Site


Joshua L. Chamberlain to Samuel Abbott,
Portland, Maine, January 31, 1911

Even as Chamberlain's life drew to a close, he often reminisced about his time in the army. In this particular letter, Chamberlain comments on the war, his fellow Union soldiers, and their adversaries from the South. Once again, one can see the repeating Victorian ideals of "manhood" and "brotherhood" which Chamberlain frequently spoke to in regards to the war, both during the actual war and after the termination of hostilities. This is one of the most stirring letters that Chamberlain wrote; it speaks to his respect for his Southern foes and their dedication to the cause.

Portland, Maine. January 31, 1911.

Samuel Abbott, Esq.,

Boston, Mass.

Dear Friend:-

I thank you for sending me your little book advocating the establishment of the "order of the Blue and Gray". Your thought is beautifully conceived and expressed. The sentiment appealed to is a noble one, - perhaps the highest in our human nature.

  As to the relation of this to other sentiments being upon our practical life, and especially involved in our great war for the Union, my thought runs like this: We were fighting for our Country, with all that this involves, - not only for the defence of its institutions, but for the realization of its vital principles and declared ideals. The crisis marked not merely an incident of this, but a momentum of force in the nation's life. The fight to preserve it from destruction has a historical, if not moral, value which should not be lost sight of. I am not in sympathy with any movement or proposition which would deny, obscure or ignore that fact.

  At the same time, no one must doubt the heartiness and wholeness with which I recognize the manhood, the brotherhood, and the deep unity of a common faith with our own, on the part of those against whom we had to carry our contention to the triumphant end. That has been the spirit of my feeling and action from the moment of the surrender at Appomattox. The meaning of the Old Flag,- the honor of our Country and the love of our fellow men, - holds us broad, now as before. In all that belong to this I am with you heartily.

  Faithfully yours,

Joshua L. Chamberlain

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

Index Terms: Union; Civil War; Country; Confederacy; Manhood; Brotherhood; Victorian Ideals; Abbott, Samuel; Appomattox

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