Chamberlain Amid controversy, marker for Maine Civil War hero moved in Virginia

suzenatale

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 25, 2013
PETERSBURG, Virginia — A sign to mark where one of Maine’s most historic figures was wounded in Virginia during the U.S. Civil War and promoted on the spot to brigadier general was moved this week.

The marker created to designate where Joshua Chamberlain was shot during the battle of Petersburg in June 1864, was moved two to three days ago about 4,000 feet to a site across the road from the Petersburg National Battlefield, according to Jennifer Loux of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.


The controversial move came after several researchers, including from the National Park Service, determined the new location was closer to where Joshua Chamberlain was shot during one of the fiercest battles of the Civil War.

The sign states, “In this vicinity on 18 June 1864, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain received a near-fatal wound while leading a Union brigade in a charge against Confederate works defending Petersburg.”....

https://bangordailynews.com/2016/03...l-war-hero-moved-in-virginia/?ref=moreInstate
 

suzenatale

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 25, 2013
Also, I noticed Chamberlain wasn't commanding the 20th Maine's brigade but a brigade of Pennsylvania troops. How did that come about?
He was promoted to Brigade command and the Brigade with the 20th Maine in it already had a General in command. He would take command of that Brigade on occasion though, when General Bartlett was sick.
 

suzenatale

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 25, 2013
The author of the book(http://cwba.blogspot.com/2016/09/booknotes-joshua-lawrence-chamberlain.html) that got this started gave a talk on CSPAN3 hosted by Pamplin Park this past weekend. Very interesting!

His name is Dennis Rasbach and he hails from the great state of Michigan

Using primary sources from both sides (including Chamberlain's own writings) and claiming to finally set the record straight, Rasbach's book exhaustively argues for a different location, nearly a mile away from the modern placard. In addition to the narrower focus on Chamberlain's role in the battle, the volume additionally serves as a broader history of the Fifth Corps involvement in the June 18 attack itself (at least that's what it looks like at first glance). Typical of the publisher, the text is accompanied by many photographs and 33 maps. A detailed walking tour of the ground is also included. Unfortunately for authors with the best of intentions, these kinds of books tend to draw knee-jerk reactions from those that have only read the title. One might imagine some JLC admirers carelessly assuming that Rasbach is impugning Chamberlain's honor by accusing him of untruthfulness, but the author really does claim that the general's mistake was an honest one.

I should like to comment on that as I guess it was my knee that did the jerking. That my problem was first of all that I helped pay for the marker that was moved and had a lot emotionally invested in it. If he had simply written a book without moving the marker there would have been a lot less controversy.

And secondly I also believed that Chamberlain made a mistake, that's not what I'm mad about, nor what I think impugned Chamberlain's honor, the author has continually accused me of only using Chamberlain as a source and using what Chamberlain said above all others, and that is not true, if you look at my argument you will see that not everything Chamberlain says I buy into, but I look at what everyone says as a whole and try to make sense of it.

But yes indeed I do think Rasbach is impugning Chamberlain's honor. And I don't think Rasbach fully understands what he himself is saying and why it would be impugning Chamberlain's honor.

If you look at Rasbach's map page 67 you will see that Sweitzer (along with Rasbach's great great grand relative) has saved the day at 3pm and not the 9th Corps, nor Crawford nor Chamberlain had yet to do much of anything to help out the grand old Sweitzer. According to this map, with Sweitzer out in front Chamberlain only had to move up next to him, and here is when Chamberlain would write this,

Lines before Petersburg
June 18, 1864
I have received a verbal order not through the usual channels, but by a staff-officer unknown to me, purporting to come from the General commanding the army, directing me to assault the main works of the enemy in my front. Circumstances lead me to believe the General cannot be perfectly aware of my situation, which has greatly changed within the last hour.
I have just carried a crest, an advanced post occupied by the enemy's artillery supported by infantry. I am advanced a mile beyond our own lines, and in an isolated position. On my right a deep rail-road cut; my left flank in the air, with no support what-ever. In front of me at close range is a strongly entrenched line of infantry and artillery, with projecting salients right and left, such that my advance would be swept by a cross-fire, while a large fort on my left enfilades my entire advance, (as I experienced in carrying this position.) In the hollow along my front, close up to the enemy's works, appears to be bad ground, swampy boggy where my men would be held at a great disadvantage under a destructive fire.
I have got up three batteries and am placing them on the reverse slope of the crest, to enable me to hold against expected attack. To leave these guns behind me unsupported, their retreat cut off by the railroad cut, would expose them to loss in case of our repulse. Fully aware of the responsibility I take, I beg to be assured that the order to attack with my single Brigade is with the General' full understanding. I have here a veteran Brigade of six regiments and my responsibility for these men warrants me in wishing assurance that no mistake in communicating orders compels me to sacrifice them. From what I can see of the enemy's lines, it is my opinion that if an assault is to be made, it should be by nothing less that the whole army.


Reading that while looking at Rasbach's map I do not understand how people are failing to understand that
Chamberlain's reputation has been impugned. According to Rasbach Chamberlain is refusing to move up next to Sweitzer and lying about being alone and in front. This is not at all what I think happened you can see what I think here: http://www.joshualawrencechamberlain.com/virginia.php


PS the original marker placement was not meant to be the exact spot because they didn't want it in residential neighborhoods. The new spot is about the same distance away from where I think it should be but my problem with the second spot is now there is a highway in the way of getting from the marker to the spot.
 

Pat Young

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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I should like to comment on that as I guess it was my knee that did the jerking. That my problem was first of all that I helped pay for the marker that was moved and had a lot emotionally invested in it. If he had simply written a book without moving the marker there would have been a lot less controversy.

And secondly I also believed that Chamberlain made a mistake, that's not what I'm mad about, nor what I think impugned Chamberlain's honor, the author has continually accused me of only using Chamberlain as a source and using what Chamberlain said above all others, and that is not true, if you look at my argument you will see that not everything Chamberlain says I buy into, but I look at what everyone says as a whole and try to make sense of it.

But yes indeed I do think Rasbach is impugning Chamberlain's honor. And I don't think Rasbach fully understands what he himself is saying and why it would be impugning Chamberlain's honor.

If you look at Rasbach's map page 67 you will see that Sweitzer (along with Rasbach's great great grand relative) has saved the day at 3pm and not the 9th Corps, nor Crawford nor Chamberlain had yet to do much of anything to help out the grand old Sweitzer. According to this map, with Sweitzer out in front Chamberlain only had to move up next to him, and here is when Chamberlain would write this,

Lines before Petersburg
June 18, 1864
I have received a verbal order not through the usual channels, but by a staff-officer unknown to me, purporting to come from the General commanding the army, directing me to assault the main works of the enemy in my front. Circumstances lead me to believe the General cannot be perfectly aware of my situation, which has greatly changed within the last hour.
I have just carried a crest, an advanced post occupied by the enemy's artillery supported by infantry. I am advanced a mile beyond our own lines, and in an isolated position. On my right a deep rail-road cut; my left flank in the air, with no support what-ever. In front of me at close range is a strongly entrenched line of infantry and artillery, with projecting salients right and left, such that my advance would be swept by a cross-fire, while a large fort on my left enfilades my entire advance, (as I experienced in carrying this position.) In the hollow along my front, close up to the enemy's works, appears to be bad ground, swampy boggy where my men would be held at a great disadvantage under a destructive fire.
I have got up three batteries and am placing them on the reverse slope of the crest, to enable me to hold against expected attack. To leave these guns behind me unsupported, their retreat cut off by the railroad cut, would expose them to loss in case of our repulse. Fully aware of the responsibility I take, I beg to be assured that the order to attack with my single Brigade is with the General' full understanding. I have here a veteran Brigade of six regiments and my responsibility for these men warrants me in wishing assurance that no mistake in communicating orders compels me to sacrifice them. From what I can see of the enemy's lines, it is my opinion that if an assault is to be made, it should be by nothing less that the whole army.


Reading that while looking at Rasbach's map I do not understand how people are failing to understand that
Chamberlain's reputation has been impugned. According to Rasbach Chamberlain is refusing to move up next to Sweitzer and lying about being alone and in front. This is not at all what I think happened you can see what I think here: http://www.joshualawrencechamberlain.com/virginia.php


PS the original marker placement was not meant to be the exact spot because they didn't want it in residential neighborhoods. The new spot is about the same distance away from where I think it should be but my problem with the second spot is now there is a highway in the way of getting from the marker to the spot.
Thanks Suze.
 

major bill

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Forum Host
Joined
Aug 25, 2012
Doesn't Virginia have a law against moving Civil War monument? Maybe I am confusing Virginia with another state.
 
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