Interview conducted by the Brunswick Times Record.
When you compare your findings to those of Rasbach in his book (Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Petersburg Campaign: His Supposed Charge from Fort Hell, his Near-Mortal Wounding, and a Civil War Myth Reconsidered) what are the biggest differences?
The biggest difference between my findings and those of Dennis Rasbach is that, through extensive research and a close acquaintance with the literature and the battlefields for more than 25 years, I am confident that Joshua Chamberlain knew exactly where he and his 1st Brigade fought at the Battle of Petersburg on June 18, 1864. Rasbach, a novice at historical research and writing, is convinced that Chamberlain was wrong and all those who agree with him are wrong, including Chamberlain contemporaries, fellow veterans, and past and present historians, including myself. My part in this tale begins when I began researching and writing a biography on Chamberlain, (Fanny & Joshua, published in 1999), and I discovered a previously unpublished first person account by Joshua Chamberlain. It described what he witnessed and experienced at the Battle of Petersburg on June 18, 1864, where he led his 1st Brigade in a futile assault on a formidable Rebel fortification at Rives’ Salient. It became my privilege to prepare Chamberlain’s “Charge at Fort Hell” for publication. In order to place the Battle of Petersburg into its proper context as the culmination of Grant’s costly Overland Campaign, I introduced Chamberlain’s account with a focus on the 5th Corps’ role in Grant and Lee’s blood soaked chess board maneuvers in May and June of 1864. Chamberlain’s manuscript, though typewritten (badly; did he do it himself?) was obviously an early draft, not quite the polished finished work we expect from Chamberlain. So, after collecting and considering dozens of other witness accounts and records, both Federal and Confederate, I gave Chamberlain’s account heavy annotation, identifying persons, places and events wherever possible. My husband Ned, also a Civil War author, after extensive consideration of accounts and period maps, provided the maps illustrating Chamberlain’s June 18th approach to and attack on Rives’ Salient. Our aim was, by providing context and corroborative detail, to enhance the readers’ knowledge and allow them to join in more fully with Chamberlain’s battlefield experiences. So in many, if not most ways, I see this as Chamberlain’s book, not mine. Meanwhile, my decades of research have left me with considerable confidence that Chamberlain was a careful and honest historian, leaving me to fear that revisionist contrarian Rasbach may be lacking in both of those attributes.
Dennis Rasbach has written a whole book [Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the Petersburg Campaign: His Supposed Charge from Fort Hell, his Near-Mortal Wounding, and a Civil War Myth Reconsidered, 2016] to prove, as he sees it, that my book and Chamberlain’s account are wrong. Should I be flattered that I’ve reached this pinnacle of military history success of having a whole book dedicated to disproving mine, (Chamberlain at Petersburg: The Charge at Fort Hell, 2004) even if it is by a novice researcher and writer who has, unfortunately, gotten in way over his head? Rasbach seems to think he is actually only challenging me, but he completely lost sight of the fact that he is actually crossing swords, if you will, with Gen. Joshua Chamberlain. For while my introduction and annotation produced Chamberlain at Petersburg:… it was Joshua Chamberlain who wrote “The Charge at Ft. Hell.” Over the years, it has occasionally come to my notice that some Civil War buffs and even a few military historians are startled to find a woman in their midst, and one to whom they don’t have to “mansplain” things. Of the many, many researchers who have written about Joshua Chamberlain’s attack at Rives’ Salient, the only historians that Rasbach identifies by name as being careless, mistaken or just plain “wrong,” are named Diane (me), Susan, and Alice. A coincidence? I don’t think so.
Do you think he used all the sources that he could have?
No. Rasbach chose to disregard all Chamberlain’s testimony, and other witnesses’ statements who agreed with Chamberlain. This omission, as well as the following factors, leave Rasbach with a biased and skewed account of the fighting at the Battle of Petersburg.
One of the most important resources that Rasbach chose to neglect is that of common sense. Rasbach declares that Chamberlain, commander of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac, did not know where he was on June 18, 1864. He declares that Chamberlain mistakes (or purposefully misstates) that his attack was on a formidable fortification, and Rasbach insists that Chamberlain instead attacked the few holes in the ground and lumps of earth that the Rebels managed to patch together on their new line in the early hours of June 18. Then too, Rasbach chose to ignore all the well-documented evidence of who actually fought at the site (other elements of the 5th Corps and the entire 9th Corps) where Rasbach insists Chamberlain attacked on June 18th.
Focused exclusively on his own theories, Rasbach declares that the area where Chamberlain attacked is little changed today. In fact, the site that Chamberlain identified when he returned to Petersburg in the 1880s, when there were still remnants of the Rebel fortifications, is now a thoroughly bulldozed housing development and a church parking lot. The site where Rasbach insists Chamberlain attacked, a mile away is relatively unchanged, but no amount of GPS or LIDAR will explain away the compelling evidence that another Federal Corps, division and brigade were well-documented to have been fighting there. Rasbach declares that the Petersburg skyline, with its landmark church steeples that Chamberlain used to help him pinpoint where he attacked, would look exactly the same from the 1 mile to the right where Rasbach insists Chamberlain’s assault took place.
Rasbach explains why he ignores Chamberlain’s accounts by claiming that Chamberlain memory is faulty or perhaps his account was an attempt at self-aggrandizement. Rasbach attributes Chamberlain’s “mistakes” by alleging that Chamberlain didn’t talk with any other participants or witnesses to the attack at Rives’ Salient. If Rasbach had considered my biography of Chamberlain, he would have known that Chamberlain, starting from the moment he was carried wounded off the field at Petersburg until the day he died, constantly interacted with, met with, and corresponded with thousands and thousands of the soldiers he fought with, at this battle and many others, including his Rebel counterparts. This includes the opportunity Chamberlain had to compare notes with fellow participants of the fight at Rives’ Salient when he returned to the 1st Division, 5th Corps just months after his wounding. But perhaps most telling of all, is the fact that Rasbach didn’t bother to get to know the man he was maligning, for he ignored my 1999 Chamberlain biography, Fanny and Joshua, which I wrote when, after considerable research, I found the previous Chamberlain biographies to be more hagiography than biography, too inclined toward hero worship for my taste. Determined to get a bit closer to who Chamberlain was and what made him tick, I researched and wrote a whole life biography (I don’t believe you know anyone by looking only at the few wartime years of his life, let alone one day of a man’s life as Dennis has done.) Though Chamberlain, unsurprisingly, was not a perfect individual with no flaws, my years of research have left a strong impression that he was a careful and honest historian. The testimony of his commanders, as well as his combat history, show him to be an intelligent, quick-thinking officer, who remained remarkably calm in battle when many others were loosing their heads, figuratively and literally. In other words, Chamberlain was an astute and accurate witness, even amidst the chaos of battle.
Rasbach said the Department of Historic Resources moved the site marker of Chamberlain’s injury almost a mile after reading his book, and that several Petersburg historians are endorsing his book. Do you think this is the right move for them?
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources, Dept of Transportation (i.e. the people responsible for putting up roadside historical markers), when they moved the Chamberlain marker back in March 2016, didn’t do so after reading Rasbach’s book, because the book has just been released this month. In reality Rasbach and his researcher, Bryce Suderow, quietly presented their theories of where they believe that Chamberlain fought to the employees of this Virginia bureau, and petitioned that they move the marker. Though the marker had already been installed and dedicated in November 2014, (I was the keynote speaker, by the way) the bureau, without consulting or alerting anyone else, and based upon Rasbach and Suderow’s faulty and one-sided material, moved the marker, thereby providing quite a promotional coup for Rasbach’s upcoming book.
The “experts” who support Rasbach’s premise that Chamberlain did not know where he fought on June 18th, are the following:
First and foremost is Rasbach’s mentor, Bryce Suderow, a self-employed Civil War researcher, who likes to advertise himself as the 2014 winner of the prestigious Douglas Southall Freeman Award, although it was the much-esteemed author, Edwin Bearrs, who actually wrote the book that won the award. Suderow’s only claim regarding the book was that he provided supplementary material (sidebars) for Bearrs’ The Petersburg Campaign. Yet Suderow, in his foreword to Rasbach’s book, doubles down on his own claim to the work, again identifying himself as “author (with Edwin C. Bearss).” Beyond the murky details of Suderow’s credentials, why did Suderow start running the hare that convinced Rasbach that Chamberlain fought somewhere other than Rives’ Salient? I believe it all began back when Suderow added a map to Bearrs’ text on Petersburg, a map that showed all the Federal Corps in positions shifted far to the right of where the participants, and therefore, contemporary and future historians believed them to be. Bearr’s text, by the way, in no way substantiates this radical shift in Federal Corps positions that the map Suderow added illustrates. Was it an oversight? Was it a stupid mistake that must now be defended to the death? Who knows, but it is the first occurrence of this strange claim for mass amnesia of the participants that I’ve seen.
But beyond the researcher’s motivation for this puzzling reassignment of the Federal Corps’ positions at Petersburg (sort of like the results of the call for clean cups at the Mad Hatter’s tea party!), why on earth would a novice historian embrace this unsubstantiated claim? What factors inspired Rasbach’s research and writing will be addressed in my response to question #5, but suffice it to say, that it seems that Suderow was telling Rasbach just what he wanted to hear, that what Chamberlain did at Petersburg wasn’t any big deal, and that the there were justifiable reasons why the brigade of Rasbach’s ancestor didn’t support Chamberalain’s attack. But the most disturbing problem with the collaboration between Suderow and Rasbach has no reasonable explanation: why did an experienced researcher like Suderow allow or assist with the irresponsible mistakes that the novice Rasbach makes regarding his primary source material. For any reputable historian, a direct quotation from a witness is sacrosanct. You do not add words, or leave out swathes of testimony because they do not agree with the author’s views. In reviewing Rasbach’s book, I checked every one of Rasbach’s quotations and citations (a laborious task, I assure you!), only to find that Rasbach is guilty of both of these fundamental errors, salting quotes with his own words, and omitting them when it doesn’t support his premise. Rasbach added words (like place names and directions of the compass) to quotes where they did not exist. As for Rasbach’s unfortunate habit of dropping significant things out of quotations, an example is his citing of a Journal of Urology article, which Rasbach used to “prove” that Chamberlain grossly exaggerated the seriousness of his pelvic wound. For while Rasbach quoted from the article that some 79% of those with wounds to the urethra survived, he chose to he chose to leave out the author’s caveat that “survived” only means that the patient didn’t die on the table under the surgeon’s knife, or shortly thereafter. Nor does Rasbach acknowledge that Chamberlain’s wound entailed a great deal more than a damaged urethra, but that’s another matter.
As for other experts who have supported Rasbach’s work, they are three members of a group calling itself “The Petersburg Project,” archaeologists and proponents of using GPS and LIDAR as tools in the study of battlefields. In a flurry of reciprocal validation, Rasbach provides the Petersburg Project’s results from a recent dig with supposed relevance by insisting that the foundation of an icehouse that the team found is in fact the one mentioned by Chamberlain as being on his right front on June 18th. The significance of Rasbach and the trio’s “discovery” rather pales when one ponders over whether their ice house was the only ice house on the miles of battlefield at Petersburg. There are “experts,” and then there are experts. No other relevant evidence was forthcoming from the Petersburg Project.
Last, but not least, is Rasbach’s mapmaker, Hal Jesperson, who describes himself as a professional cartographer, and whose work, prior to creating Rasbach’s maps, entailed publishing his Civil War maps on Wikipedia. A great fault of Jesperson’s maps is his failure to include a directional compass that allows the reader to compare witness testimony with the map’s landmarks. Nor are all the landmarks mentioned in Rasbach’s text on Jesperson’s maps. But the greatest error regarding the maps must be laid at the researcher’s and author’s doors, for none of the maps state the times on June 18th they are supposedly depicting. Dawn? Noon? After the battle? A fatal flaw to the accuracy or relevancy of these maps is this demonstration of Rasbach’s disregard for the fact that where Chamberlain or other brigades were at dawn on June 18th does nothing to prove where they were at 3 p.m. that afternoon. Rasbach, in his “evidence,” even refers to 5th Corps positions several days after the battle as being somehow relevant to Chamberlain’s position at 3 p.m. on June 18th. Jesperson’s maps reflect nothing more than where Rasbach wants Chamberlain to be in order to fit with Rasbach’s theories.
What are the biggest risks when it comes to re-writing history, especially if the changes are unfounded?
I’m sorry to say, they there is often far too little risk in rewriting history, for unless, your work is put before a discerning, well-informed audience, there may be few readers who will question your findings or interpretations. How many readers of “history” demand documentation? How many readers turn to footnotes or endnotes, with an eye to seeing just what you are offering for evidence for your pronouncements? Or will readers scour the writer’s bibliography to see just what sources were considered, or what sources were omitted or missed? (The omissions sometimes tell you more than that which is included!) I’m one of those readers who spends most of my time wading through the writers’ annotation, and mining their bibliographies for any possibly relevant sources. It is exactly this treatment that I have given Dennis Rasbach’s Joshua Chamberlain and the Petersburg Campaign: His supposed Charge from Fort Hell, his Near-mortal Wound, and a Civil War Myth Reconsidered. I assure you that I am more than willing to consider challenges not only to my own research and writing, but also to that of Chamberlain’s, but I’ll expect nothing less than reliable, relevant, well-documented new evidence. After due consideration, I have found Rasbach’s research, reasoning and writing woefully inadequate and unconvincing.
I’m no stranger to challenging the “established” history of the Civil War. My last book, Command Conflicts in Grant’s Overland Campaign: Ambition and Animosity in the Army of the Potomac, 2013, exposes the inadequacies of Gen. U.S. Grant’s leadership, in his Overland Campaign and elsewhere, and attempts to right the wrongs done to the 5th Corps by the Lt. General and his military cronies. It is, I assure you, an uphill battle to dislodge long held theories or impressions, for many in the Civil War community considers the reputation of U.S. Grant close to sacrosanct. But my disagreement with many of my fellow historians, as to whether U.S. Grant was the best man for the job of winning the war for the Union, is presented with years of research and the consideration of a large body of evidence. Mere speculation such as Rasbach has presented, without adequate evidence or informed evaluation, is worse than useless.
Describe your research and explain why that research is more thorough than Rasbach’s.
I am the author of Chamberlain at Petersburg: The Charge at Fort Hell, the book which Dennis Rasbach has written his whole book to refute. But while Rasbach frequently points out what he imagines to be my errors, he is really disagreeing with, or crossing swords if you will, with Joshua Chamberlain, for the main body of “my” book is Chamberlain’s own first person account of his and his brigade’s assault at the Battle of Petersburg on June 18, 1864. This project was my second book, one that followed the publication of my first book, Fanny and Joshua, a dual biography of Joshua and Fanny Chamberlain, in which, it will be no surprise to anyone, I gave considerable time and attention to Chamberlain’s service with the 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac. But taking on Chamberlain’s Petersburg manuscript, “The Charge at Fort Hell,” demanded a much more thorough consideration of U.S. Grant’s Overland Campaign and all that led up to the Battle of Petersburg. It also demanded a very close look at Chamberlain’s role in the campaign, and, of course, consideration of his new 1st Brigade, those men he led in the attack at Rives’ Salient.
The Chamberlain I have come to know from my work on his biography and his battlefield accounts, was a careful and thoughtful historian, who during the war and after, spoke with, met with and corresponded with fellow veterans and witnesses to the conflict. And I felt obliged to do much the same in my research and preparation of Chamberlain’s manuscript, for beyond considering what Chamberlain witnessed and testified to regarding his attack at Rives’ Salient at Petersburg, I spent much time considering the accounts and reports of any and all witnesses, including those of the Rebels who opposed them. It was, as it happens, this trait of Chamberlain’s to seek out his Confederate counterparts when he was researching a battle, that led me to his Petersburg manuscript, for it was while searching for Chamberlain’s correspondence with Confederate Gen. Thomas Munford that I found the forgotten Chamberlain manuscript at Duke University. So when comparing my and Rasbach’s research, I would consider that his biggest handicap is his inexperience when it comes to the complicated business of finding, analyzing and interpreting resources, and beyond that, evaluating their relevancy. Rasbach’s denial that Chamberlain ever bothered to talk with any other veterans or participants of the Battle of Petersburg is a case in point, revealing his ignorance of (or denial of) Chamberlain’s extensive contact and correspondence with countless other witnesses. Rasbach instead turned his attention to gathering a pile of archival material, including very important sounding sources like ground penetrating radar analysis and Journal of Urology articles. But as in all things, quantity without quality didn’t provide an adequate defense, nor did it make Rasbach’s case. Rasbach’s “new” material fails the all important test of relevancy.
I believe that my twenty-five years of research and writing, with three books that focused upon the 5th Corps’ history, give me a decided advantage, for I am most closely familiar with both the Chamberlain canon and the history and terrain of the Overland Campaign. (My third book is Command Conflicts in Grant’s Overland Campaign: Ambition and Animosity in the Army of the Potomac, 2013) After a thorough review of Rasbach’s research and writing, I found a complete lack of new, relevant research material, which sinks his radical revisionism on Chamberlain’s Rives’ Salient attack quicker than the Titanic. A major flaw in this very flawed work is Rasbach’s initial decision to focus all his attention on a few isolated bits of conflicting “evidence” regarding just where Chamberlain’s First Brigade and other Federal divisions fought on June 18. By way of example, one such seemingly divergent account that Rasbach employs, from a unit history of a member of Chamberlain’s own brigade no less, agrees with Rasbach’s placement of the 1st Brigade one mile to the right of where its commander, Chamberlain, said it was. But sadly (for Rasbach), the soldier who wrote that account wasn’t at Petersburg on June 18th, having invalided out of the army weeks before the battle. I’m betting Rasbach doesn’t know that. So Rasbach chose to rely exclusively on a few similar accounts, none of which are compelling or conclusive. And beyond giving undeserved weight to the accounts of others, Rasbach chose to completely discount or disregard all of Chamberlain’s accounts, as well as any whose testimony agreed with Chamberlain’s.
What would inspire Rasbach to so skew his research in favor of anyone who showed inclinations for or the promise of being a Chamberlain naysayer? It was likely that the transparently self-justifying and patently defensive statements and reports that were issued by members of Sweitzer’s Brigade (Rasbach’s grandpappy’s brigade) at the time and after the battle. Sweitzer’s Brigade, on Chamberlain’s right, inexplicably failed to obey the order to support Chamberlain’s 3 p.m. attack at Rives’ Salient, leaving the 1st Brigade to face alone the heavy musketry and cannon fire of Rives’ Salient on their front, and the big guns enfilading their advance from Ft. Mahone on their left. But however much Rasbach fixated upon any material that promised to disagree with Chamberlain, he did not manage to find a tip of that archival iceberg of supporting testimony that he hoped would prove his exciting revisionist revelations! While this might have daunted another novice historian, it did not prevent the inexperienced Rasbach from spending a good half of his book trying to make the details of Chamberlain’s attack at Rives’ Salient (which Rasbach, interestingly enough, insists was too formidable a spot for anyone to attack) somehow fit a site 1 mile to the Federal right. This site, where the Chamberlain historical marker now mistakenly resides, is at the future site of future Battle of the Crater, but on June 18th it was where the 9th Corps, with two 5th Corps units on their left (Crawford’s Division and Sweitzer’s Brigade) confronted a weak new section of the Rebel line. Rasbach tries but fails to explain away how Chamberlain’s Brigade could have fought at the same place thousands of other soldiers from the 5th and 9th Corps fought. One of Rasbach’s maps shows the Federal divisions stacked up like dominoes, all in aid of his effort to squeeze as many divisions as possible into a very small portion of the Federal front. No surprise that the prominent position that Rasbach gives Sweitzer’s Brigade displaces other brigades known to have fought on that portion of the line June 18th. I have no argument with Rasbach that it was at this far less formidable section of the new Rebel line where his ancestor fought, but I disagree strongly that Rasbach has in any way proved that Chamberlain’s fought there too. In fact, the evidence is still overwhelming that Chamberlain and the 1st Brigade fought exactly where Chamberlain said they did, at Rives’ Salient.
One can’t help but ponder over what Chamberlain and the members of the 1st Brigade would think of a challenge to the location and conditions of their June 18th assault. While a number of 1st Brigade veterans named Rives’ Salient as the site of their June 18th attack, many didn’t bother to say just where they came under what was for many the most intense enemy fire they experienced during the entire war. They likely never dreamed that they would have to prove or defend, if you will, just where it was they attacked. For the men who made or witnessed that assault, having to pinpoint the exact location of their attack would be sort of like Lincoln having to prove where he gave his Gettysburg Address. So, to summarize, the novice historian Rasbach, armed with seeming discrepancies in June 18th testimony as to the site of the 1st Brigade’s assault, chose, subsequently, to completely discard and/or attempt to discredit all of Chamberlain’s accounts (Chamberlain’s “The Charge at Ft. Hell” and others). The testimony of those witnesses who agreed with that of Chamberlain also went out the window, while that which seemed to, or could be made to, deviate from the the Rives’ Salient assault were embraced. Any historians who give any credence to Chamberlain’s accounts or those that agree with Chamberlain’s, are, according to Rasbach, wrong. Thus Rasbach was inspired to rewrite or correct history, while his mentor, Suderow, literally lectures other historians on how Rasbach will teach us all “how better to pursue their craft.”
Ironically, I care little exactly where the Chamberlain marker has been placed. What modern day parking lot or roadside median strip it stands upon, to me, is of little importance. But what does disturb me, exceedingly, is a concerted effort to discredit or call into question the courage and honesty of a remarkable commander and the brave men he led on June 18th.
Why do you think Rasbach would go through all this trouble to write and publish a book on Chamberlain if his findings are incorrect.
Rasbach’s interest in the battle of Petersburg came courtesy of an ancestor whom Rasbach found in his genealogy, who served in 1864 with the 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry, 2nd Brigade, 5th Corps, Army of the Potomac. Exciting, yes? But, perhaps less so when Rasbach discovered that this brand new cavalry regiment when they arrived at the Army of the Potomac’s front, was stripped of its horses and equipment (Gen. Grant’s head of cavalry, Gen. Sheridan, was losing men, horses and equipment at an alarming rate). So the aspiring Pennsylvania troopers suddenly became untrained infantrymen assigned to Col. Jacob Sweitzer’s Brigade. There was undoubtedly added disappointment in store for Rasbach when discovering that the veteran commanders of his great great grandfather’s brigade, Col. Wm Tilton and Gen. Jacob Sweitzer, had not, as brigade commanders at the Battle of Gettysburg, covered themselves with glory the previous year. There were questions asked as to whether Sweitser and Tilton withdrew from a critical position on the battlefront prematurely.
But what’s all this got to do with Chamberlain? Unlike Sweitzer and Tilton, Chamberlain’s performance at Gettysburg made him a legend… the Hero of Little Round Top! Chamberlain’s quick thinking and stubborn resistance to a Rebel flanking attack made him the “fair haired boy” as far as his division and corps commanders were concerned. In the weeks leading up to the Battle of Petersburg, there were hard feelings within the 5th Corps when a brigade was created for Chamberlain that, once again, advanced him from regimental to brigade command. The hard feelings came into play because Chamberlain was promoted over the heads of several colonels “senior” to Chamberlain, including the disgruntled Col. Tilton. But perhaps the most significant “disappointment” that Rasbach had to take under his belt, was the matter of Sweitzer and Tilton’s unexplained failure to make the attack ordered for 3 p.m. on June 18th, thereby failing to support Chamberlain’s assault. It left the 1st Brigade alone on the battlefield, the only target for the enemy’s muskets and artillery, not only on 1st Brigade’s own front, but from the enemy on Sweitzer’s and Cutler’s fronts as well.
So the devil is in the details of the history and reputation of Rasbach’s great-great grandfather’s brigade, as well as the less than sterling reputation of its commanders, Tilton and Sweitzer. Col. Tilton actually achieved the coveted brigade command after all, when, after the 1st Brigade’s costly assault on June 18, Chamberlain was carried off the field with a near mortal wound, and Tilton was assigned to command of the brigade. Therefore it was Tilton who later wrote the report for the 1st Brigade’s costly 3 p.m. assault, and a curious document it is. It leaves questions, if one is not perfectly familiar with just whose responsibility it was to support whom, of who followed orders and who failed to do so. And Tilton’s report would also leave the uninitiated in some doubt as to just who led the 1st Brigade’s 3 p.m. attack on Rives’ Salient. Tilton’s report is a reprehensible attempt to hide the 2nd Brigade’s failures on June 18th, but it is not the only attempt at obfuscation. A memoir written by members of Sweitzer’s Brigade quite literally accuses Chamberlain of failing to support Sweitzer’s Brigade in their 6 p.m. attack, which took place three hours after the 1st Brigade’s assault. The author of this malicious slight was, as he admits, well aware that by the time Sweitzer finally made an attack, Chamberlain was lying near death in the 1st Division hospital, while 314 men of his brigade were lying dead or wounded on the battlefield. But this bitter 2nd brigade witness nonetheless displays no hesitation in blaming the failure of Sweitzer’s Brigade to achieve a breakthrough on the lack of support they received from Chamberlain and his 1st Brigade.
I fear that Rasbach’s disappointment in the lackluster performance of and sorry reputation of his ancestor’s brigade inspired him to try to “polish” Granddad’s war record by diminishing that of “Saint Joshua,” as Rasbach laughingly refers to Chamberlain. Rasbach, sadly, isn’t the first author that decided to take the much-admired Chamberlain down a peg. But hey, it does, unfortunately, sell books.