Army Life a Private's Reminiscences of the Civil War
by Theodore Gerrish 1882
The officer on the magnificent horse described on page 43 is likely Chamberlain who was known early in the war to have
a magnificent white horse called Prince. Powell in The Fifth Army Corps
on page 301 records the incident with a darker tone, "Lieutenant-Colonel Chamberlain had his horse shot under him while he
was steadying the men through a deep place in the river, where several of the 5th New York were drowned in his presence."
Though he may have provided Powell with the account, Chamberlain himself doesn’t record this story, he relates a similar incident occurring before Appomattox in his speech
Surrender of Lee and His Army
In December of 1883 Nichols would write to the Lincoln County News
in response to this book
and Gerrish's suggestion on page 110 that after the order to charge was given the regiment hesitated until Melcher sprang up "with a flash of his sword" to encourage them on.
Nichols would write,
I say, and I know what I say to be true, that instead of any hesitation on the part of Co. K, and before the completion of
the order, it was anticipated by them, and when the command "Charge" was given they were already on the move, and that with such a rush that
the officer who could get in front of them must have been exceedingly alert in his movements.
It is probably also in response to this that Chamberlain said at the Dedication of the 20th Maine Monument
"I am sorry to have heard it
intimated that any hesitated when that order was given. That was not so. No man hesitated. There might be the
appearance of it to those who did not understand the whole situation. The left wing bent back like an ox-bow, or sharp
lunette, had to take some little time to come up into the line of our general front, so as to form the close,
continuous edge which was to strike like a sword-cut upon the enemy's ranks. By the time they had got up and
straightened the line, the centre and salient, you may be sure, was already in motion. Nobody hesitated to obey the order.
Gerrish also wrote an article for the National Tribune called Battle of Gettysburg
where he made a similar claim.
Gerrish was not actually at the Battle of Gettysburg,
he was reported on the rolls as being away sick.1
In spite of this, years later Chamberlain listed him in company H
that day. See Maine at Gettysburg
Page 260 - 266 describe the formal surrender on April 12th at Appomattox. Another description of General Wise at the surrender appeared in the newspapers of the time and can be seen here
on page 33.