Growing up a “Brewer boy” like Joshua L Chamberlain

ECW is pleased to welcome back Brian Swartz, author of the new Emerging Civil War Series bio Passing Through the Fire: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in the Civil War

While growing up in Brewer, Maine, I learned in elementary school about Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the 20th Maine, and Little Round Top. However, although Chamberlain and I are “Brewer boys” (a local term), I did not realize how much his childhood and adolescent “turf” overlapped mine until researching the biography that became Passing Through the Fire.

Placed atop a boulder set on Holyoke Hill in Brewer, Maine, a state of Joshua L. Chamberlain overlooks the section of his hometown that the general called “the village.” He grew up nearby. (Brian F. Swartz photo)

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Question of the Week: 8/2-8/8/21

 

In your opinion what Civil War regiment was “best-dressed”?

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Week In Review

Monday, July 26:

Question of the Week highlighted historic maps.

Sarah Kay Bierle posted about General Griffin’s forward scouting at Chancellorsville.

Patrick Young from The Reconstruction Era Blog shared about USCT’s service after the war ended. Continue reading

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Weekly Whitman: A Postage Stamp

A few weeks ago, I got an email from a Weekly Whitman reader who shall remain nameless because I have lost the email somewhere between my phone and the desktop. He asked me if I had seen the Walt Whitman stamp. Well no—I had not, but it only took minutes before I had it on my screen, and another few minutes after that for me to have it ordered. It is my pleasure to share it here. And if you are reading this now, good sir, please respond and claim the credit. Continue reading

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Book-o-Rama! ECW authors have been cranking out some great reading material lately

We have had a lot of book action going on here lately at ECW. It’s been hard to keep up with!

I’m proud of all that great work our authors have been doing, so I’ve raided social media to snag a few tidbits that will, I hope, help you celebrate with us. (With a special shout-out here to our friends at Savas Beatie, who’ve been helping us celebrate by giving ECW a lot of love in the past few weeks.) Continue reading

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The Crater Sent a Monster Home to Maine

ECW is pleased to welcome back Brian Swartz, author of the new Emerging Civil War Series book Passing Through the Fire: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in the Civil War. Brian adapted this post for us from a series of posts published on his blog Maine at War on March 20, March 27, and April 3, 2014.

James J. Chase was 17 and a newly minted second lieutenant when he posed for this portrait, probably at a studio in Maine. He rejoined the 32nd Maine Infantry Regiment at Petersburg in July 1864 and charged with men into The Crater on July 30. (Maine State Archives)

The massive explosion that created The Crater and stunned James J. Chase followed him home to Maine.[1]

Hailing from Turner in Androscoggin County, the 16-year-old Chase joined the army in August 1863. Showing talent and leadership capabilities, he received a commission and a transfer to the 32nd Maine Infantry Regiment in late winter 1864 as second lieutenant, Co. D.

He arrived at Petersburg in July and reported to the 32nd’s commander, Col. Mark Wentworth. Guided by a soldier named Peare, Chase navigated the trenches, ran across an open ravine as Confederate bullets whizzed past, and “at about three P.M. we reached the regiment.” Continue reading

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Saving History Saturday: Owen Brown’s Gravestone Restored In California

Yes, it’s THAT Owen Brown! The son of John Brown. Did you know that he died in 1889 and is buried in Altadena, California? Continue reading

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“That Crater During That Day I Shall Never Forget”

General Bartlett

“We storm the works tomorrow at daylight. Our Division leads. I hardly dare hope to live through it. God have mercy. . . If I could only ride, or had two legs, so I could lead my brigade, I believe they would follow me anywhere. I will try as it is. God have pity on dear mother, Agnes, and all loved ones.”[i]

William Francis Bartlett penned those words in his diary on July 29, 1864. He had spent part of his afternoon at the division headquarters and knew what was planned for the following day. His journal entries and published letters from late July have a desperation and almost a belief that it will be impossible to survive. Continue reading

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ECW Weekender: National Museum of the United States Army

Today’s ECW Weekender highlights a new museum that most of our readers have yet to see. Originally set to open in June 2020, COVID-19 delayed the National Museum of the United States Army’s plan. It opened on November 11 that year, only to close to the public as the pandemic worsened. Now, however, it is ready for visitation, though you need to set up a (free) timed entry ticket on their website prior to your visit. The sizeable 185,000 square foot museum includes many aspects of the Army’s storied history, including the “Preserving the Nation” gallery, exploring 1846-1891. Highlighting the stories of both famous and unknown soldiers alike, this museum is a long-overdue opportunity to explore the institution’s role in the country’s history.

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One Company Against Two Corps

June 3 always brings recollections of the 1864 battle of Cold Harbor. There, at least 1,100 Union soldiers were killed and 4,500 wounded in a bloody attack that Confederates easily repulsed in less than an hour. (7,000 is the usual number given for Meade’s casualties.)

The assault force numbered as many as 40,000 in three corps (Hancock’s II; Wright’s VI and Smith’s XVIII). The Confederates were outnumbered, but standing behind strong parapets, they easily mowed down the attackers.

For one imaginative pictorial take on the battle, there’s Alfred Waud’s “Battle of Cold Harbor.” The drawing appears in Joseph T. Derry’s Story of the Confederate States (Richmond, 1895). Take a look: Continue reading

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