“Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain has become a Civil War icon, and deservedly so. But while we know a great deal about his military exploits and his later public career, we have known little of his personality and inner life. This biography of a marriage humanizes both Joshua and Fanny Chamberlain. It explores the trouble and triumphs of two real people who come to life in this intimate portrait drawn from hundreds of family letters.” (Dr. James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom)
“Up until now Fanny Chamberlain has been a dimly seen, often negatively presented figure. Now Diane Monroe Smith has cleared away the mists and brought her to life with a wealth of hitherto unpublished letters and other information that also adds considerable illumination to Joshua’s life and character. A tremendous contribution to Chamberlain scholarship and literature.” (John Pullen, author of The Twentieth Maine and Joshua L. Chamberlain: A Hero’s Life and Legacy)
“This book needs to be in the library of every student of Joshua Chamberlain.”
“Smith prefaces Chamberlain’s writing with a detailed examination of Chamberlain’s and the 5th Corps’ experiences in the spring of 1864…and succeeds in setting forth the conflicts that developed among Union army commanders that had huge repercussions on the conduct of the late war.”
“By itself, Chamberlain’s manuscript is impressive. With author Smith’s annotations and illumination it becomes an important work.” (The Civil War Courier)
“…Chamberlain at Petersburg should be required reading.”
“Smith’s careful research provides the strategic and tactical context of the movements of the Army of the Potomac in the weeks leading up to the ‘Charge at Fort Hell’.”
“In her preface, Smith writes that Chamberlain’s words ‘makes us feel as if we are settling in an armchair opposite the aging warrior, and hearing him share his most vivid remembrances…’ Readers will no doubt agree.” (The Civil War News)
“In this hard-hitting and controversial book, historian Diane Monroe Smith has presented a solid assessment of command conflicts during the Overland Campaign. By focusing on the intriguing personalities of the main characters in the Army of the Potomac, Smith brings Grant’s command style into sharp focus. There are excellent and enlightening evaluations of James H. Wilson, John Rawlings, Philip H. Sheridan, Charles Dana, and other members of Grant’s inner circle; and at times the interplay of schemes and sub-plots seems almost to mirror a modern soap opera. There is a tendency to forget how very human historical icons were, and how much even towering figures like Grant could be mired in petty jealousies and controversies. The strongest part of this book is in the latter chapters, which focus much more closely on the themes outlined in the title. The author has given us a finely-drawn picture of the ways in which a group of ambitious men can not only change important events, but how those events are remembered – particularly when they work directly for a man who was not at all averse to tinkering with the historical record himself. Diane Monroe Smith is to be commended for offering us this valuable insight.
I recommend this book for anyone with an interest in the Overland Campaign, and also for anyone interested in how history gets written. (Frank Varney
Author of General Grant and the Rewriting of History
One cannot consider the life of Joshua Chamberlain without looking at his service in the 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac, during the American Civil War. [See Fanny & Joshua]
And when looking at the role he played in the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Corps, one has to give ample attention to the Battle of Petersburg, where a terrible wound came near cutting short Chamberlain’s extraordinary life. [See Chamberlain at Petersburg]
But while researching the 5th Corps in the Army of the Potomac during Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign, it becomes apparent that attention must be given to Grant’s actual military record versus the “savior of the Union” persona history has come to adopt. It became a necessity to reevaluate his command style and unfortunate habits, ones that caused a costly & unnecessary extension of the war with the resulting loss of many more soldiers’ lives. [See Grant’s Overland Campaign]
If one examines the 5th Corps’ actual role in Grant’s Overland Campaign, which entailed great suffering, courage, and remarkable accomplishments, one can’t help but notice a young scout named Washington Roebling, who risked his life again and again to see that no soldier of the 5th Corps or the Army of the Potomac would go where he did not dare go himself. [See Washington Roebling’s Civil War] This latest work will be released in July 2019 by Stackpole Publishing of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a leader in Civil War scholarship since 1930.