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Home > Civil War Sesquicentennial > Joshua Chamberlain Mutineers Transcript

Joshua Chamberlain Mutineers Transcript

Headquarters 20th Maine Volunteers
May 25th 1863

To His Excellency Gov. Coburn

Governor,
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 20th instant to Col. Ames, and sent to me as the present Commanding Officer of this Reg’t., Col. Ames having been appointed Brigadier General, has taken his oath of office & been assigned a Brigade in Gen. Howard’s Corps where he is now on duty.

In reply to your favor I am very happy to say that Dr. Monroe by the efforts of his friends in the Reg’t and elsewhere has been reinstated and honorably discharged.  We were very sorry to lose him, but he felt it his duty to go.

It is very important to the welfare of the men that we have a good surgeon, & it is a matter about which I feel a good deal of anxiety.

We should all welcome Dr. Hersom.  I shall act upon your suggestion & see Col. Roberts of the 17th.  I am aware of the difficulty with which transfers between different Corps are made, but it is possible that the arrangement you suggest can be carried out.  We should greatly prefer that, to the other course by which Dr. Hersom would be exchanged for Dr. Wescott & neither Reg’t perhaps so well satisfied.

There is another matter, Governor, about which I wish to have a word with you. The transfer of the “three years men” of the 2nd Maine has been so clumsily done, that the men were allowed to grow quite mutinous – left uncared for in their old camp after the 2nd had gone for several days & having time & provocation to work themselves up to such a pitch of mutiny that Gen. Barnes had to send them to me as prisoners, liable to severe penalties for disobedience to his orders. You are aware, Governor, that promises were made to induce these men to enlist, which are not now kept, & I must say that I sympathize with them in their view of the case. Assured as they were that they would be mustered out with the 2nd, they cannot but feel that they are falsely dealt with in being retained & sent to duty in other Reg’ts.  They need to be managed with great care & skill; but I fear that some of them will get into trouble for disobedience of orders or mutiny. My orders are to take them & put them on duty which they have already refused to Gen. Barnes & others. I shall carry out any orders whatever may be the consequence; but I sincerely wish these men were fairly dealt with by those who made their promises. All their papers sat they are enlisted for three years just as the men of this regiment are, & for us in the field there is no other way but to hold them to it. What you may be able to do for them I do not know.

I think with pleasure of your short visit to us, & am only sorry I could not do more to make your stay more comfortable.

The Regiment was enabled to do good & important service during the fight, although we were not allowed to mingle with the rest of the Army.  I had a midnight order from Gen. Butterfield to take possession of the signal wire from the Battlefield to Head Qrs. of the Army.  This gave us enough to do, as the wire was tampered with & broken many times a night & communication was of the utmost importance.  I was in the saddle all the nights inspecting every inch of the line.  The Reg’t is in good health – never so free from sickness – small pox has entirely disappeared.

I have said nothing about promotions of Field Officers in this Reg’t. I have not supposed that you needed any testimonials; if you wish them they can be easily furnished. But you have seen and known us, & we are willing to leave the matter to your own best judgment.

I am Governor,
Very Respectfully,
Your ob’t serv’t
J. L. Chamberlain
Lt. Col 20th Maine Vols.