Medal of Honor
Examples of the new ribbon and new Medal of Honor described in these letters can be seen in the illustrations below.
Chamberlain received his first Medal of Honor on September 16th 1893. On March 31st 1897 he would receive the new ribbon design and a rosette, also called a knot,
that could be worn in lieu of the medal.
In 1904, Congress authorized a new design for the Army Medal of Honor, however, to receive the new medal recipients were asked to turn in their old medals. This
did not sit well with many veterans who, like Chamberlain, continued to hold on to their original medals.
On February 27, 1907 Congress recognized that, "Recipients of the earlier designs for the Medal of Honor have shown reluctance to return their "old" medals for the new "Gillespie" medals because of the
sentimental value their original award holds for them." In response Congress authorized the new design to be issued without requiring the recipients to turn in their original
Medals. Those who had previously turned in their Medals would have them returned. The legislation specifies, however, that both Medals cannot be worn at the same time.1
Seven months later Chamberlain wrote a letter to the War Department inquiring about
the new medal, "As I understand that it is now permissible to receive the new badge of the Medal of Honor without returning the old one (which
I value on account of the inscription on it) I beg to be instructed as to the proper course for me to take in invoking the application."
Chamberlain would receive this new medal on October 21st 1907. This medal is held in Bowdoin College's special collections.