The Military Operations on the White Oak Road
December 6, 1893
It can be seen by glancing down the list of speeches on this website that Chamberlain up until this point had focused the topic of his speeches on Gettysburg
and the Surrender. Up until the 1880s very few people, if any, knew of Chamberlain's actions in the battles of Quaker Road, White Oak Road and Five Forks.
But the Warren Inquiry would spark new interest in these battles, they now were being discussed and debated at reunions.
This, along with a desire to clear Warren's name, is likely what prompted Chamberlain to start writing speeches such as this as the turn of the century neared.
The Boston Daily Globe reported the following day,
"Portland, Dec 6 - The Maine commandery of the Loyal Legion met here this evening. Among the
ex officers present were Gen Geo. Varney, Gen John M. Brown, Gen Selden Connor, Gen Geo L. Beal, ex Gov Robie
and Maj H. S. Melcher.
Gen J. L. Chamberlain was the special guest of the evening, and the officer who received the
surrender of Gen Lee was given a great reception when he rose to speak.
Gen Chamberlain's address had special reference to the battle of White Oak road.
He criticized the removal of Gen Warren by Sheridan.
Gen Chamberlain's paper called out a lively discussion of the events he described.
He had not been heard here before for almost 10 years, and the officers present regard his paper
as likely to be an important contribution the the literature of the war."
On page 222 Chamberlain remembers Warren staying, "General Chamberlain, will you save the honor of the Fifth Corps."
Chamberlain was likely reminded of this account from reading the History of the 198th Pennsylvania, where the quote also appears.1
Since both Griffin and Warren were dead by the time of this speech, one could assume that Chamberlain or Woodward could get away with some embellishments to the dialogue.
However a reporter happened to be close by that day and recorded the same quote in the report he sent to the New York World and other papers on April 7, 1865.2
The reporter however attributes the quote to General Griffin.
From page 353:
After Gen. Chamberlain's article was printed he discovered several errors of the author, to which he desires to call attention. They are as follows:
Page 230 fifth line from bottom seventh word for left read right.
Page 231 sixth line from bottom eighth word for his read Sheridan's.