ill-timed, task of setting down in complete detail that story which long ago should have had a full official telling. In that great national tragedy of the Civil war there has been for years much effort, always in a more or less unostentatious and secretive way, to eliminate the merit which was due to prominent actors. It has been said recurrently that officers other than the actual one who commanded on the impressive occasion, and, to cite one case, a general officer, who, from 1863, was never connected with the Army of the Potomac, was frequently banqueted and toasted as the soldier who received the surrender of General Robert E. Lee. This was, to be sure, an unfair acceptance, but it was accepted in silence, and even at later times assented to in subsequent remarks. But, be it said, such pretense of merit deserves and surely ought to receive the censure of every loyal comrade. The man who did command the Union soldiery that stood immovable for hours near Appomattox Courthouse on that eventful day while Rebel arms and colors nodded ‘conquered’ has never sounded in public or in private his own acclaim. Major-General Joshua L. Chamberlain, of Maine, he was in the old days, and still he bears that honorable title. As a conspicuous New Englander whose life has been an integral part of the educational history of his beloved Pine Tree State, which he has represented as Governor as one of the legislators, as President of Bowdoin College, and particularly as a soldier, his long and eventful life has come to be well known to the people of the entire country—his life excepting that part he played in the last act of the war. This is somewhat in detail the entire story as summarized by General Chamberlain:
The Battle of Five Forks, which occurred on the 1st of April, 1865, served to prove to General Grant the fact which General “Phil” Sheridan had advanced that the cutting of railroad lines between Petersburg and the South had made exceedingly difficult, if not practically impossible, the provisioning of the Confederate army, and that the departure of that command and its march toward Lynchburg might soon be expected. The victory of Fire Forks was so complete in every way as to wholly paralyze General Lee's plan for further delay, and it is not too much to say that the decison was at once made for the western movement of the Army of Northern Virginia toward a new supply base.