The Third Brigade at Appomattox
"The Surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, April 12, 1865" by Ken Riley 1965. Original at West Point
The Third Brigade, First Division, 5th Army Corps, was Vincent's old brigade of Little Round Top fame. After the Battle of Gettysburg Chamberlain was given command of this brigade, but unfortunately developed malaria and was sent to Washington to recover.
When he returned General Bartlett had taken over command.
To make up for the loss General Griffin placed Chamberlain in command of the First Brigade,
and a year later he gave him command of the Second Brigade as well.
While Chamberlain was not in command of the Third Brigade during the battle of Appomattox, he was given command of them after the fighting was over. General Griffin was promoted to commander of the Corps giving Bartlett command of the First Division.
Now that there was no longer a ranking officer in his way, Chamberlain requested to be placed back in command of the Third Brigade, the brigade that held his old Regiment the 20th Maine.
Chamberlain's commanding officers held him in such high regard that they assigned him the honor of commanding the reception of the Confederate formal surrender.
With the Third Brigade front and center and his other two brigades loaned to him and placed in support, the Confederate soldiers of Lee's army approached Chamberlain's line and laid down their flags and weapons.
Chamberlain ever endeared himself to many in the Confederate Army by ordering his men to salute the rebel army as they passed.
The Confederates did likewise and as Chamberlain says, it was "honor answering honor."
In his earlier speeches Chamberlain had not mentioned being in command of the entire division. Here however he states,
"By the courtesy of General Bartlett the First brigade, which I had so long commanded, and the Second, which had been
with me in this last campaign, were sent to me and held part in the parade, being formed on another line across the street and facing us."
This is echoing the history of the 118th Pennsylvania released a few years before that said,
"General Bartlett, commanding the division, sent the 1st Brigade and also General Gregory's 2nd Brigade, which had served under
General Chamberlain during the entire campaign, to take their places in the parade."1
Chamberlain would not mention Bartlett again until his book The Passing of the Armies, here he would add a paragraph not seen in his speech Appomattox
"As for me, I was once more with my old command. But this was not all I needed. I had taken leave of my little First Brigade so endeared to me, and the end of the
fighting had released the Second from all orders from me. But these deserved to share with me now as they had so faithfully done in the
sterner passages of the campaign. I got permission from General Griffin to have them also in the parade. I placed the First
Brigade in line a little to our rear, and the Second on the opposite side of the street facing us and leaving ample space for the
movements of the coming ceremony. Thus the whole division was out, and under my direction for the occasion, although I was not the division commander. I thought this troubled
General Bartlett a little, but he was a manly and soldierly man and made no comment. He contented himself by mounting his whole staff and with the division flag riding around our
lines and conversing as he found opportunity with the Confederate officers.
This in no manner disturbed me; my place and part were definite and clear."2
For a look at Marvel's argument that suggests Chamberlain was not in command that day see A Place Called Appomattox Review
The next description of the surrender that Chamberlain would write appeared in the Boston Journal in May 1901, it was called The Last Salute of the Army of Northern Virginia.