Chamberlain Did Chamberlain Carve Graffiti On George Washington's Tomb?


Sergeant Major
Aug 20, 2009
Manor, TX
I visited Mount Vernon today with this year's crew of 8th graders (I take a group to D.C. every year). I always take them on the tour of the house itself and then walk over to Washington's tomb. For the first time, the guide told me that Civil War soldiers of both sides had carved their names or initials into the red bricks of the tomb and directed me to the unmistakable name of J. L. Chamberlain. Here's the pic:


Internet checks find that several bloggers have discovered the same thing, but how certain can we be that this was, indeed, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine, who saved Little Round Top? Chamberlain is not the most common name in the world but not a unique one. Could this have been someone named John Leonard Chamberlain or someone else with a similar name? There appears to be something else carved underneath the name in smaller letters, but I can't make out what it says and it might be someone else, anyway.

Is there any solid primary source documentation that would place Chamberlain at Mount Vernon? Does he, for example, mention it in his memoirs?

Frankly, it strikes me as rather unlike Chamberlain to carve his name into the tomb of the Father of the Nation.