Memoirs of the Civil War
Between the Northern and Southern Sections of the United States of America 1861 to 1865
Publication Year: 2011
“William Wilson Chamberlaine’s Memoirs of the Civil War, though relatively little known because of its rarity in the original edition, contains much valuable information and engaging narrative passages. A Virginian whose Confederate career included service in an infantry regiment early in the war, Chamberlaine’s most important military service was as a staff officer attached to Brigadier General Reuben Lindsay Walker, who commanded the Third Corps artillery in the Army of Northern Virginia. His book includes excellent material on the duties of staff officers, operation of Confederate conscription, and the role of artillery in Lee’s campaigns. He is especially eloquent and revealing about a number of famous battles: the Seven Days; Antietam, where Chamberlaine distinguished himself and was wounded; and the Wilderness, where he had a memorable encounter with Lee.
“Never before reprinted, Memoirs of the Civil War benefits greatly from a perceptive introduction by Robert E. L. Krick. Its intrinsic merits should earn attention from readers interested in the storied operations of the Army of Northern Virginia.”
—From the Preface by Gary W. Gallagher
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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“Seeing the Elephant: South ern Eyewitnesses to the Civil War” presents a range of firsthand testimony to modern readers. Primarily focused on reprinting accounts by Confederates or other Southerners who experienced the conflict, the series will occasionally offer works by foreign or Northern observers. Collectively, the volumes will carry ...
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William Wilson Chamberlaine, Virginia infantryman, artillerist, and staff officer, might be the only published memoirist from the Army of Northern Virginia who is better known today for a monument than for his book. A modest slab of stone near the mouth of the Piper Farm lane at Sharpsburg commemorates Chamberlaine’s heroics there on ...
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The intention of these memoirs is to furnish my children and their descendants, in printed form, an account of the experience of the writer during the War waged from 1861 to 1865 by the Northern States of the Union against the Government set up by the Southern States, in order to force the latter to return to the Union. During its existence, ...
Chapter 1: Service with the Infantry
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In the year 1859 (I was then twenty- three years old) John Brown attempted to array the negroes in Northern Virginia against the white people, and with his followers, mostly negroes, took possession of Harper’s Ferry. Troops were dispatched to the scene by the U. S. Government, as there was an Arsenal at Harpers Ferry, and after a short struggle John ...
Chapter 2: Battles near Richmond
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A few days afterwards some Federal Gunboats were seen coming up the river. General Wise’s Command was deployed and marched in line of battle down the river towards them. The country is clear of trees, so each side could see the other. The Gunboats, however, did not fire few days after the Regiment was ordered to rejoin the Brigade and ...
Chapter 3: March to Winchester
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It was late in July when the three Lieutenants arrived at Rocky Mount, the County seat of Franklin. We had great difficulty in finding the absentees, as they were scattered in different parts of that mountainous country and would hide in the thickets. They had very little relish for service in the Army. Most of the good men of that section had volun-...
Chapter 4: Sharpsburg
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Arriving at dusk, I felt very forlorn in Winchester, but succeeded in finding a very nice boarding house just above Taylor’s Hotel, where I remained until the morning of the 16th, when an order was published for officers and men to push on towards Harper’s Ferry and join their Commands. Lieut. Col. Williamson came to the boarding house while ...
Chapter 5: Fredericksburg
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Early on the morning of the 11th of December, 1862, I was awakened by the Long Roll. The Brigade was marched to the front and took its position on Taylor’s Hill a little to the left of Marye’s Heights. The Federal Army, under General Burnside, succeeded in laying several pontoon bridges across the river. This work occupied most of the ...
Chapter 6: Field Artillery
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Soon after being established in quarters for the winter, all of the Artillery was ordered to the front, because of a movement made by General Burnside. He threatened to cross the Rappahannock River at Banks Ford, six miles above the old position and at other fords. We marched over the Telegraph Road towards Fredericksburg and were sent to ...
Chapter 7: Service on the Artillery Staff
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The Artillery of the 2nd Corps was then in winter quarters near Milford Depot and consisted of six battalions commanded by Col. J. T. Brown, Majors H. P. Jones, Thomas Carter, Lieut. Col. R. L. Walker, Major R. Snowden Andrews, and General W. W. Pendleton, Chief of Artillery of the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded all the Artil-...
Chapter 8: Chancellorsville
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Early next morning, May 2nd, Jackson’s Corps was on the march by way of the Catherine Furnace towards the Brock Road. The Infantry had flankers, or skirmishers, out, but the road was so narrow and the woods so thick, that often the line of flankers was within a few steps of the column. Occasionally in the clear space I could see a Cavalry ...
Chapter 9: Artillery of the Third Corps
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Fredericksburg. The Artillery of the 3rd Corps was by that time thoroughly organized. Our Quartermaster, Major Wm. C. Scott, was a very efficient officer and the command was provided for in every respect except we lacked a supply of horse shoes. We had a small corps of couriers detailed from different batteries, who were intelligent men. A young ...
Chapter 10: Battle of Gettysburg
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When General A. P. Hill started his column across the mountain on the 29th his orders were to proceed through Gettysburg towards York. Ascertaining from General Pettigrew that the enemy occupied Gettysburg, as became the able soldier that he was, he notified General Lee and General Ewell and proceeded early on the morning of July 1st to ...
Chapter 11: Comments on the Battle of Gettysburg
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Some years ago the Count de Paris, who was writing a History of the War between the North ern and South ern States, wrote to many prominent officers, asking the cause of the failure of the Confederate Army to gain the battle of Gettysburg. If he had access to the archives of the War Department, he might have found a brief, but concise, an-...
Chapter 12: Battle of Bristow Station
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After resting two days at Bunker Hill, the Artillery of the 3rd Corps proceeded with the 1st Corps and the Infantry of the 3rd Corps by way of Winchester and Chester Gap to Culpepper Court House. The Artillery encamped near Cedar Mountain and remained a few days, where I was engaged in writing a report of the Campaign. The wife ...
Chapter 13: Army Returns to Orange Court House
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After being there a few days the enemy was reported advancing and the troops were called to arms. I was on the south bank of the river where we had a Battery posted about half a mile above the bridge. We saw the Federal line advancing just across the river. The Battery opened on it, but the ammunition was so inferior that not a shot reached the ...
Chapter 14: Mine Run
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The Artillery of the 3rd Corps went into Camp near the town, with one or two Batteries posted on the river bank. It was now late in Oc-tober. We made our Headquarters on the road to Rapidan Station and hostilities were not renewed until the latter part of November, when General Meade sent his Army across the river at several fords below ...
Chapter 15: Battle of the Wilderness
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Orders were at once issued for the march and the Artillery started for the battle ground of the Wilderness. In my youth I remember hearing my grandmother Chamberlaine in relating her experiences of the War with England in 1812, say that a family should never abandon their dwelling house until the shingles commenced to fly off. I never un-...
Chapter 16: Spottsylvania
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General R. H. Anderson was placed in command of Longstreet’s Corps and General Mahone in command of Anderson’s Division. The under-growth was on fire in many places, which communicated to the trees otherwise have recovered. Later in the afternoon another attack was made on Hancock’s line at the Brock Road, but did not succeed in ...
Chapter 17: Siege of Petersburg
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Finding Grant’s Army had left our front at Cold Harbor, the Artillery of the 3rd Corps was ordered to take the road towards the James River. We crossed the Chickahominy River, passed near Bottom’s Bridge and pursued the road to the crossing of White Oak Swamp. I was approaching familiar ground, but we were not expecting to meet the ...
Chapter 18: End Approaches
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No attempt was made by the enemy to force the new line, and at sunset it remained as when established in the forenoon. General Walker went to Field Headquarters, where General Lee was sitting on the porch of a dwelling with General Longstreet. Hill’s Corps was placed under the command of the latter. The order was given to evacuate the lines at ...
Chapter 19: Last Battle
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As soon as the park was formed, I had gone on to the railroad sta-tion, and seeing Surgeon James D. Gait, he told me that it was reported there, that the Federal Cavalry had reached Pamplin’s Depot, ten miles east, and would probably reach Appomattox by nine P. M. I returned at once to General Walker and reported what I had heard, and was sent ...
Chapter 20: Return
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About the first of June, in company with Mr. Dillard, I rode to Danville, the 6th Corps of the Federal Army was stationed there. When we arrived at Martinsville, the County seat of Henry, we rode into a company of Federal Infantry. I was not noticed and after a short conversation between Mr. Dillard and the officers in command, we started for ...
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The majority of the people of Virginia was not in favor of a resort to arms to settle the question in dispute between the Sections: they pre-ferred Peace in the Union and many efforts were made by our Statesmen to prevent conflict, but the radicals on both sides were so insis-tent on their respective views that all such efforts were futile....
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Page Count: 127
Illustrations: 1 Illustration
Publication Year: 2011
Series Title: Seeing the Elephant