Reminiscences of Petersburg and Appomattox
Read before the commandery of the State of Maine, Military Order of the Loyal Legion October, 1903..
Chamberlain recounts a visit to the battlefields of Petersburg and Appomattox in 1903. The land was somewhat changed
since he was last there. New forts were there with names like Fort Rice, Fort Hell and Fort Sedgwick.1
A maze of tunnels and breastworks replaced the hills and fields over which Chamberlain had charged.
Chamberlain describes the area he charged over, this area he says later became Fort Hell.
Remarkably Fort Hell, aka Fort Sedgwick, remained unchanged from the time of Chamberlain's visit well into the 20th century, it's tunnels were part of a
privately owned museum and park called Fort Hell Park. Tragically in 1967, not too long after the centennial, the park,
fort and tunnels were bulldozed to make way for a shopping center and parking lot that has in recent years been converted to a church. A tour guide to the old park can be seen at:
Plowshares & Bayonets.
It seems unlikely, to me anyway, that Chamberlain would have moved as far south as Fort Hell to start his charge. I explore his position.
But what this document does reveal on page 177 is that Chamberlain found a Confederate who was at
Rives' Salient that day and who can remember being attacked. This assures us that while his starting point could be off, his ending point was not.
"Perhaps the most striking attention received was that of an old Confederate from the ranks, who was at Rives' Salient on that dark June day
of the bloody years, and who was as badly cut up with wounds as any man I ever saw alive. Our interview was both sharpened and deepened by our
reciprocal experiences on that mortal day.