Title: Surrender of Lee and his Army
Publication: Bangor Daily Whig and Courier
Date: February 1, 1868 and February 17 & 18, 1868
Author: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Keywords: Joshua Chamberlain, Lawrence Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Robert E. Lee, Surrender, Appomattox
Surrender of Lee and his Army

image courtesy www.sil.si.edu


One of the first versions of this speech, the war still fresh in many people's memories, Chamberlain wished to "relate many things which did not fall under the observation of the reporters."
    In later writings Chamberlain would claim he did not know why he was given the honor of commanding the surrender, here he states it was due to his proximity to the enemy. Here he also justifies saluting the enemy saying, "it is a funeral salute we pay them." This version has no mention of the Confederates returning the salute, however he had mentioned it in a letter home from the field, "We received them with honor due to troops - at shoulder- in silence- They came to a shoulder on passing my flag & preserved perfect order."1
    Chamberlain's description of the surrender would be used in a book published the same year called, "A Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant" page 490.

Well known for being overly polite and kind, when he first went to war his friends doubted he had what it takes.2 But Chamberlain proved you don't need to be cruel or harsh to get respect. On page 3 he gets a laugh out of his audience describing officers who preferred to yell and swear at their men. He joked, "The pursuit must not flag, so officers coax, scold, scowl, and some who have scruples against affirming do the other thing?"
    It is seen in this speech and in many of his speechs to come that Chamberlain believed at the time that the last man killed was in his brigade, "Just as a cannon shot strikes one of my officers through the heart, and he falls the last victim of the war, an order comes to cease firing and halt!"
    In reflection on it near the end of his life he would write, "It has been claimed that the last man killed in the Appomattox lines belonged to the Army of the James. That may possibly be so, as the reception of flags began on our right, and probably did not reach the extreme left where the Army of the James was until some time after. So there may have been some firing and casualties after the truce had been received on our right. The honor of this last death is not a proper subject of quarrel."3

The next speech Chamberlain would give on this topic would be in 1882 called The Surrender of Lee's Army