Title: Military Essays and Recollections of the Pennsylvania Commandery, Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States
Keywords: Joshua Chamberlain, Lawrence Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, causes of the civil war, reasons for going to war, reconstruction
Loyalty

The Military Order of the Loyal Legion was formed in response to the death of Abraham Lincoln. The group of officers that gathered together in Philadelphia on April 15th 1865 decided to create a society to "perpetuate the recollections of the day and of the war"1
    After a rocky start the first commandery was finally formed and a celebration was held on February 22, 1866. Most likely due to his background as Professor of Oratory, Chamberlain was selected as orator of the evening and this is the second of two speeches he would give.
    These early speeches have a very different tone from his reminiscences in later years, however in this speech as well as many to come Chamberlain eludes to General Warren's undue removal from command of the 5th Corps...
"Remarkable was the manner in which our soldiers bore themselves when some loved commander was suddenly removed by others from his place before their eyes. No reasons apparent to them; yet the order acquiesced in, patiently, trustingly, because perhaps required by some great interest or ends that as yet lay out of sight."
On page 46 - 48 Chamberlain looks at the causes for the war and the reasons soldiers gave for going. Reviewing the country's long history with slavery, Chamberlain notes that even President Lincoln declared "that they had not the power, the right nor the intention to meddle with slavery where it was."
"But when slavery was put above the Union- when the energies of war were turned against the defenses of the Country; when the flag was shot down and trampled on, which stood not only for what had been done under it for man, but what should be done - then a miracle of might rose that spirit which slow to wrath, does not stop till its work is done- does not rest till the cause, which is the evil, is purged from the heart. What a century of concession could not do, secession did - with marvelous demonstration, its own weapons turned to its destruction. It pleased its maddened mood to invoke war; and the very laws of war gave the President power to knell its doom; it proclaimed a Confederacy built on the corner-stone of slavery- and lo! the corner-stone itself was overturned; it set slavery across the nation's way, and God - in his wrath, in his justice, in his mercy, in his love, in his far purpose for man and earth - swept slavery from the path, as the mighty pageant of the free people passed on to its glory."
On page 53, when speaking of reconstruction currently underway, Chamberlain makes what might have been a controversial statement for that time,
"A great and difficult duty is laid upon us all to help the poor, surprised race among us, whose enfranchisement was the signal incident of the war, to make themselves truly free. Still greater and more difficult is the task for the States now restored to their place in the Union, having on them a double burden; of dealing with this multitude among them suddenly let loose from slavery; and of settling in a new order civil, social and industrial relations which have been shaken to their very foundations. A work which can effectually be done through the best minds of the South, although lately swept into the ranks of the Rebellion..."
It is possible that Chamberlain was thinking of Lincoln's famous ten percent plan for reconstruction where Lincoln stated, "And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision which may be adopted by such State government in relation to the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, shall not be objected to by the national executive."2
    Apparently initially a Moderate Republican, as was Lincoln, when Johnson and Congress went head to head Chamberlain was forced to pick sides. This time he would side with the Radicals. He would soon clarify his thoughts on reconstruction while campaigning for governor of Maine. Stating, "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." See Gubernatorial Race. An explanation for his apparent change of mind is given in his Inaugural Address
"At the close of the war, the secession element was completely disorganized and broken. The South as a faction was disintegrated. The war for secession had revealed the selfish motives and reckless means of its instigators, and had bred bitter dissensions. The Confederacy was held together only by military force. And when vanquished with its own weapons, it laid down its arms, its people were ready, looking at their necessities and their interests, to accept such terms as they knew they could expect from a victor whose magnanimity was proverbial to a fault. - And it is not hazarding too much to assert that had no particular policy of reconstruction been interposed, and nothing been attempted but to provide against suffering and protect personal rights in the South until the assembling of Congress - the rightful authority in the matter - the whole country to-day would be in relations far more satisfactory both to North and South. Now however, the distracted elements have been united, the spirt of rebellion has been revived to hopes it had abandoned, and with divers passions harmonized and excited to the key note of a battle-cry, the South stands to-day in solid and bristling phalanx."