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Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 1: the situation. (search)
e of communication, the Norfolk Railroad and Jerusalem Plank Road. By this time it was too late; all Lee's army were up and entrenched. We encountered a far outnumbering force of veteran troops well entrenched and a cross-fire of twenty guns in earthworks planted with forethought and skill. Desperate valor could accomplish nothing but its own demonstration. Our veterans were hurled back over the stricken field, or left upon it-I, too, proud witness and sharer of their fate. I am not of Virginia blood; she is of mine. So ended the evening of the second day. And the army sat down to that ten months symposium, from which twenty thousand men never rose. The development of this campaign led many to compare Grant with McClellan. They marched their armies over much the same ground, with much the same result. Only McClellan was brought to Washington; Grant was permitted to remain at City Point and the Appomattox. The rumor ran that McClellan had also proposed to cut across the Jam
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 2: the overture. (search)
may mention. General Warren, our Corps commander, came up to me with pleasant words. General, he says, you have done splendid work. I am telegraphing the President. You will hear from it. Not long afterwards I received from the Government a brevet commission of Major-General, given, as it stated, for conspicuous gallantry in action on the Quaker Road, March 29, 1865. I had previously received this brevet of the date of March 13th, purporting to be for meritorious services during that Virginia campaign. I begged permission to decline this and to accept the later one. First looking after the comfort of my wounded horse in one of the farmsheds, I walked out alone over the field to see how it was faring for the unreturning brave. It was sunset beyond the clouds; with us the murky battle-smoke and thickening mists wrapped the earth, darklier shaded in many a spot no light should look on more. Burials were even now begun; searchings, questionings, reliefs, recognitions, greeti
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 3: the White Oak Road. (search)
fourteen companies, half veterans, half soldiers born so, swing in upon their left, striking Hunton's Brigade in front, and for a few minutes there is a seething wave of countercurrents, then rolling back, leaving a fringe of wrecks,--and all is over. We pour over the works, swing to the right and drive the enemy into their entrenchments along the Claiborne Road, and then establish ourselves across the White Oak Road facing northeast, and take breath. General Hunton, since Senator from Virginia, said in his testimony before the Warren Court, speaking of this charge, I thought it was one of the most gallant things I had ever seen. --Records, Part I, p. 625. Major Woodward in his history of the 198th Pennsylvania, giving a graphic outline of the last dash, closes with an incident I had not recorded. Only for a moment, he says, did the sudden and terrible blast of death cause the right of the line to waver. On they dashed, every color flying, officers leading, right in among th
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 4: Five Forks. (search)
d flankers, and march another regiment by the flank on our right, ready to face outwards, and let his other regiment follow in my column. At four o'clock we moved down the Gravelly Run Church Road, our lines as we supposed nearly parallel to the White Oak Road, with Ayres directed on the angle of the enemy's works. Just as we started there came from General Warren a copy of a diagram of the proposed movement. I was surprised at this. It showed our front of Battle-field of Five Forks, Va., April 1, 1865, and of field of operations: showing the operations of the 5th Army Corps. movement to be quite oblique to the White Oak Road,--as much as half a right angle,--with the center of Crawford's Division directed upon the angle, and Ayres, of course, thrown far to the left, so as to strike the enemy's works halfway to Five Forks. Griffin was shown as following Crawford; but the whole direction was such that all of us would strike the enemy's main line before any of us could touch
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 5: the week of flying fights. (search)
e virtually turned the right of the defenses of Petersburg and broken the Confederate hold upon Virginia. It was, indeed, a brilliant overture, giving courage to our hearts and stimulus to our energiof the flight of the Confederate government from Richmond, the full retreat of Lee's army from Virginia, and the downfall of the Confederacy. The plain facts were enough for us: Lee's army was in reavalry, with which they had formerly served so harmoniously and so efficiently in the valley of Virginia. The Sixth Corps now remained with the cavalry and under Sheridan's direct command, until af together for manhood's sake in the name of what they already felt to be a doomed Confederacy. Virginia was but a prison-pen; the Southside Railroad was the dead-line; the river the Lethean stream. army compared with ours made it clear that we should soon overcome that resistance and relieve Virginia of the burden of being the head of the Confederacy, and from that must follow the downfall of t
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 6: Appomattox. (search)
t thought,--how different for each, no other knows! At last we sleep-those who can. And so ended that 9th of April, 1865-Palm Sunday,--in that obscure little Virginia village now blazoned for immortal fame. Graver destinies were determined on that humble field than on many of classic and poetic fame. And though the issue brot and his men! What shall we give them for greeting that has not already been spoken in volleys of thunder and written in lines of fire on all the riverbanks of Virginia? Shall we go back to Gaines' Mill and Malvern Hill? Or to the Antietam of Maryland, or Gettysburg of Pennsylvania?-deepest graven of all. For here is what remnswer. We are going home pretty soon, but not till we see you home. Home! he snatches up the word. We haven't any. You have destroyed them. You have invaded Virginia, and ruined her. Her curse is on you. You shouldn't have invited us down here then, was the obvious reply. We expected somebody was going to get hurt when we t
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 7: the return of the Army. (search)
brought into contact with the ruin, waste, and desolation that had been wrought upon proud old Virginia, and her once prosperous homes. Well were they reluctant to declare themselves foes of the Ameiate personal and domestic plans can be sanctioned and consummated, no doubt, under the laws of Virginia, proceeds the prosy, didactic court of final resort, but Virginia is not at present exercising Virginia is not at present exercising her functions as a State anywhere; and under the jurisdiction of what you will allow to be the de facto power of the United States, in order to enjoy its advantages and reciprocate its good will, you resplendent as the onlooking sun. One half the corps had gone, passing the death-streams of all Virginia's rivers; two hundred miles of furrowed earth and the infinite of heaven held each their own. Wthe tarry of a night. I had my headquarters in the front yard — not the house — of a courteous Virginia gentleman of the old school, who seemed to like my name, which if braced with an aristocratic y
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 9: the last review. (search)
road, or sliding, leviathan-like, down the slopes of half-sheltered river-coves, launching out to their perilous, importunate calling? Did not the waters of all Virginia's rivers know of their bulk and burden? Had we not seen them — not smiling-time and time again, spanning the dark Rappahannock?-as in December, 1862, Sumner andnks made good from the best substance of the 18th, wakening heart-held visions. These names and numbers tell of the men who had opened all the fiery gateways of Virginia from the York River to the Chickahominy, and from the Rapidan to the Appomattox. Now Gregory's New York Brigade--the 187th, 188th, and 189th,--young in orderl, led by Major van Brocklin, the little phalanx of the 50th New York Engineers, which had been left to help the Sixth Corps, pass once more the turbid rivers of Virginia. Here again, the train of uncouth pontoons, telling of the mastery over the waters as of the land. This last solemn passage now, waking memories of dark going
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the Armies., Chapter 11: the disbandment. (search)
rs, No. 339, current series, from the Adjutant General's office, this army, as an organization, ceases to exist. What wonder that a strange thrill went through our hearts. Ceases to exist! Are you sure of that? We had lately seen the bodily form of our army, or what remained of it, pass in majesty before the eyes of men; while part of it was left planted on the slopes of the Antietam, on the heights of Gettysburg, in the Wilderness, on the far-spread fields and lonely roadsides of all Virginia,--waiting the Resurrection. The splendor of devotion, glowing like a bright spirit over those dark waters and misty plains, assures us of something that cannot die! The sacrifice of the mothers who sent such sons was of the immortal. All this must have been felt by those who gave the order. The War Department and the President may cease to give the army orders, may disperse its visible elements, but cannot extinguish them. They will come together again under higher bidding, and will