Title: Personal Recollections of the War of the Rebellion: Addresses delivered before the commandery of the state of New York, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Third Series.
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York
Date Published: 1907
Author: A. Noel Blakeman
Pages: 260 - 280
Keywords: Joshua Chamberlain, Lawrence Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, biography, history, Battle of Appomattox, Samuel Wylie Crawford, George Meade, Charles Griffin, Robert E. Lee, John B. Gordon, Surrender, General, Fifth Corps, 5th Coprs
Permissions: public domain
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Reproductions: This speech was reprinted in the book:
Bayonet! Forward: My Civil War Reminiscences

This paper was read before the New York Commandery of the Loyal Legion on October 7, 1903.
    While very similar to the chapter by the same name is his book The Passing of the Armies, this speech has a few noticeable omissions. One we have already looked at here. The second is found before the paragraph on Ord riding up with his order. Here Chamberlain adds an account of Griffin riding up to him, "'General,' he says, 'I want you to go back and bring up Crawford's Division. He is acting in the same old fashion that got Warren into trouble at Five Forks. He should have been up here long ago. We need him desperately. He deserves to be relieved of his command.'" Shocked Chamberlain asked for an explanation. "I mean to put you in command of that division." Griffin responded.
    While Crawford was no longer living at the time Chamberlain gave this speech, Chamberlain still thought it wise to leave out this account, but he included it in his book that was left to be published after his death.
    The Five Forks incident addressed in the Warren Court of Inquiry was not the fist time Crawford had failed to give the First Division support. Arriving late on Little Round Top at Gettysburg and failing to give proper support once he arrived, Crawford would try to take credit for holding the hill. See Big Round Top
    Another paragraph that was added to his book but is not found here reads as follows,
"The momentous meaning of this occasion impressed me deeply. I resolved to mark it by some token of recognition, which could be no other than a salute of arms. Well aware of the responsibility assumed, and of the criticisms that would follow, as the sequel proved, nothing of that kind could move me in the least. The act could be defended, if needful, by the suggestion that such a salute was not to the cause for which the flag of the Confederacy stood, but to its going down before the flag of the Union. My main reason, however, was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend from their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, and with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond; - was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?
John Pullen makes much of this quote in his book Joshua Chamberlain a Hero's Life and Legacy, page 22, claiming that it indicates that Chamberlain "must" have been "bothered" by the third section of 14th Amendment. He imagines Chamberlain thinking, "But what kind of welcome was this - a constitutional amendment that barred some of these men from holding office not only under the national government, but also in their own states?" I don't think by "welcomed back" that Chamberlain meant anything more than that they were surrendering their flag and coming back to flag of the Union. A look at some newspaper clippings from his gubernatorial Race, as well as his Inaugural Address, will reveal his feelings,
"It seems little else than absolute madness to hasten to reinvest with political power the very men who precipitated upon us the horrors of civil war; and little else than cowardly wickedness to turn our backs upon the millions whose humble and despised condition did not prevent them from befriending the country when it was most in need of friends."
"When men make arms their arbiter and are defeated, they can neither expect to dictate terms to the victor, nor plead with effect the original rights and privileges which they abandoned for a more decisive trial."
    While in all previous speeches Chamberlain only remembers two men arriving with the flag of truce, in this speech and also later in his book The Passing of the Armies Chamberlain describes a lone rider with a flag of truce appearing right before two other riders. The description of this first rider appears to come from investigations done by the 155th Pennsylvania for their history called Under the Maltese Cross. On page 682 they reprint a series of letters from 1902. It is this new information that Chamberlain incorporates into this speech.
    In a note in The Passing of the Armies page 241 Chamberlain states,
"The various accounts that have been since given of the reception of the flag of truce on this occasion might lead to the impression upon readers of history that we were all under great agitation of mind and that our memories were somewhat confused or possibly our habit of truth telling. But those who were acquainted with the facts will not be disturbed in their inferences or judgments. In accordance with Lee's instructions several flags were sent out at important points along his own line, and several came in on our Appomattox front. The flag bearers I refer to were Capt. P. M. Jones, now U.S. District Judge in Alabama, and Capt. Brown of Georgia."
Captain P. M. Jones was actually Thomas Goode Jones, in the letter to the 155th Pennsylvania regiment recorded in their history he recalls coming first to a man in a zouave uniform who he mistook as an artilleryman, the man, Mr. William Shore of the 155th, led Jones to Chamberlain. Jones recalls that Sims, Arnold and Hunter were also sent out with flags, "As the emergency was very pressing, and your people were about to swoop down upon us, it was all important to stop hostilities at once, and General Gordon directed flags to be carried to several points along the line which was advancing on us.1
    From his earlier speech Not a Sound of Trumpet we see one of the pair of riders was a Union staff officer E. W. Whitaker and another was Major Brown. Sims of Longstreet's staff had originally ridden over to Custer with the flag but was rejected, Custer informing him he could only accept a surrender if it was an unconditional surrender. Whitaker agreed to return to the Confederate line with Sims to find Lee and get confirmation that it was an unconditional surrender. Sims in a letter to the 118 Pennsylvania regiment describes a Major Brown of Gordon's staff joining them as they entered the Confederate line, It was Brown and not Sims who would return with Whitaker to the Union lines.2
    Whitaker recalls in his letter to Chamberlain,
"I was suspicious of their good faith as all firing had not stopped and artillery with smoking guns was passing us, and while hesitating about my report to General Custer they very impatiently begged me to hurry back and to first stop that infantry line with the announcement. I consented to do so only stipulation that a rebel officer go with me."3

    In a 1906 letter to members of the 155th Pennsylvania Regiment Chamberlain admits,
"I have nearly got tired of the efforts to reconcile all the stories of that 'flag of truce.' The lists of those to whom it came is a perplexing one for length. I have almost begun, on reading of these, to doubt if I was there after all..."
He goes on to say,
"The man who bore it has had many a conference with me since, and I have a detailed statement from him of the circumstances which attended the sending out of ten flags by Longstreet and Gordon. The flag that came to me I sent along the line to the left to Sheridan and Ord. Of course, it passed many commands and commanders, and so all these stories of receiving the 'flag of truce' may well be true. The flag came to me first. There is no doubt about that, and I sent it along. It was from Longstreet and Gordon. It was the identical flag that went to Sheridan. If there were other flags, I do not know who sent them."4