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
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