"My Brave Young Brother: Tom Chamberlain"

Descriptive Inventory of Letters Relating to
Tom Chamberlain

Information taken from my own files of photocopies and transcripts of letters, plus the following books (for full details, see the Tom Chamberlain Bibliography): Desjardin, Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine; Golay, To Gettysburg and Beyond; Goulka, The Grand Old Man of Maine; Loski, The Chamberlains of Brewer; Nesbitt, Through Blood and Fire; Pullen, Joshua Chamberlain; Pullen, The Twentieth Maine; Rundlett, Rundlett's War; Smith, Fanny & Joshua; Styple, With a Flash of His Sword; Trulock, In the Hands of Providence.

Additions and corrections welcome.


Key (people):

Tom: Thomas Davee Chamberlain
Daisy: see Grace
Delia: Delia Jarvis Chamberlain (wife; previously wife of John)
Fanny: Frances Caroline Adams Chamberlain (sister-in-law)
Father: Joshua Chamberlain
Grace: Grace Dupee Chamberlain Allen (niece)
Lawrence: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (brother)
John: John Calhoun Chamberlain (brother)
Mother: Sarah Dupee Brastow Chamberlain
Sae: Sarah Brastow Chamberlain Farrington (sister)
Wyllys: Harold Wyllys Chamberlain (nephew)


Key (locations of letters):

BC: Bowdoin College, Brunswick, ME
LC: Library of Congress, Washington DC
MHS: Maine Historical Society, Portland, ME
MSA: Maine State Archives, Augusta, ME
NA: National Archives, Washington DC
OR: War of the Rebellion: Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies
PHS: Pejepscot Historical Society, Brunswick, ME
RC: Radcliffe College, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
UMO: University of Maine, Orono, ME
YUL: Yale University, New Haven, CT


Chronological Inventory

1854, April 11: Lawrence to Fanny (RC) (Tom described by his brother as a "little rogue"; his mischief causes an amusing family misunderstanding)

1855, October 5 or 8: Mother to Lawrence (RC) (Tom is sick and requires "constant nursing"; his "short and rapid breathing" noted by his worried Mother)

(no date, summer 1859): Mother to Lawrence (RC) (Mother says she loves her granddaughter Daisy as much as all her own children - "Thom not excepted")

1860, April 14: Sae to Tom (BC) (From New York, Sae jokingly instructs Tom not to dance or smoke, nor to "box, or jump much")

1861, March 4: Lawrence to Tom (BC) (Lawrence asks Tom to check what ale Mother drinks as he wants some of the same to restore the sickly Fanny; Daisy and Wyllys having fun during the winter with Tom's sled)

1862, July 20 or 21: Tom to Lawrence (RC) (Tom has seen a report of Lawrence's 20th Maine appointment in the newspaper, and wants to join his brother, perhaps as quartermaster or lieutenant; can easily stand the warm southern weather and could leave at a week's notice; says he had earlier been offered a lieutenancy by Captain Farnham [in the 16th Maine] but Mother had vetoed the proposition)

1862, August 2 or 22: Tom to Lawrence (RC) (Concerning Tom's problems with his employer Frank Sabine, who does not want him to quit his job and enlist; Tom fears that Sabine will find some way to prevent him from leaving and asks for Lawrence's help)

1862, August 15: Lawrence to Colonel Eugene Hale, military aide of the Governor (MSA) (Lawrence suggests possible candidates for various appointments in the 20th Maine; recommends Tom as being "abundantly competent" for the position he wants as quartermaster sergeant)

1862, early September: Father to Lawrence (RC) (Father tells Lawrence to take care of Tom, that an observation post or position in military stories would suit him best, and that Lawrence should ensure Tom is raised from the ranks as soon as possible; this letter brought by Tom when he caught up with the regiment after his stomach upset)

1862, October 14: Tom to Sae (UMO) (Tom says being a sergeant and file-closer is safe; swears someone will shoot Colonel Ames in their first battle; also says that Lawrence "looks splendidly" and never felt so well in his life)

1862, October 26: Tom to Sae (BC) (Tom reassures Sae that he is well and has gained 12 pounds despite the cold weather, and the poor health and morale in the regiment; Ames is hated "beyond all description"; he drills the men "up hill and down", swearing all the while, and Tom hopes he will end up in prison or promoted out of command of any men)

1862, October 30: Tom to John (UMO) (Tom says Ames drills the sergeants "every day to see who is fit to promote"; boasts that he is getting good at it and could "knock Frank Sabine drilling")

1862, October 30: Tom to Sae (BC) (Tom reports that he's gained 12 pounds "living on worms" - bread full of maggots - and now weighs 132 pounds; he assures Sae that he is not drinking as there is no liquor or money to buy liquor in the regiment)

1863, February 2: Tom to probably John (UMO) (Tom says that he has gained 30 pounds; they are likely to be in camp for two months and encourages John to visit)

1863, February 26: Lawrence to Governor Abner Coburn (MSA) (Lawrence recommends that Tom, having previously been a sergeant in Co. I. and acting 2nd Lieutenant of Co. D., and who is currently acting 1st Lieutenant of Co. G., should be granted a commission to that grade)

1863, March 6: John to Lawrence (RC) (John writes to Lawrence that he would like to visit the regiment, and wishes he could have accompanied Tom when he returned from a brief stay with the family)

1863, April 5: James C. Rundlett, Co. G., 20th Maine, to his mother (Rundlett family) (Rundlett writes that "The Lieut." [i.e. almost certainly Tom] wanted to put his name forward for promotion but knew it would displease the Captain, Ellis Spear, with whom Rundlett was on bad terms)

1863, April 12: Lawrence to Tom as Acting Adjutant, 20th Maine (NA) (Lawrence requests leave of absence from Tom in his official capacity)

1863, May 22: Lawrence to John (LC) (Lawrence tells John that Tom received "a beautiful letter" from his Mother a few days before, and thinks a great deal of home)

1863, May 26: Sae to Tom (RC) (Sae tells Tom that Fanny is in New York; describes the triumphal return of the 2nd Maine to Bangor; and complains that a photograph Tom sent her makes him look like a "scape-grace")

1863, August 25: Lawrence to Governor Abner Coburn (UMO) (Lawrence recommends Tom's promotion to Captain of Co. G., to replace the promoted Ellis Spear)

1863, October 5: Tom to Major Gardiner, Military Comdt, Maine (NA, Tom's Mil. Recs.) (Tom, newly promoted, asks to be mustered in as Captain while on detached duty in Portland, Maine)

1863, December 21: Captain Prentiss Fogler, 20th Maine, to Lawrence (LC) (Company commander complains to Lawrence about Tom's using his influence to urge the promotion of a sergeant in Co. H.)

1863, December 26: C.C. Hayes [Maine Soldiers Relief Agency] to Lawrence (LC) (Hayes tells Lawrence that Tom has informed him of the resignation of Lieutenant James H. Nichols)

1864, February 22: James C. Rundlett, Co. G, 20th Maine, to his mother (Rundlett family) (Rundlett sees to the paying of the Company since "the Cap. [i.e. Tom] and Lieut. were a visiting")

1864, February 24: Tom to Lieutenant Holman Melcher, Acting Adjutant, 20th Maine (NA, Tom's Mil. Recs.) (Tom applies for ten day leave of absence to buy musical instruments in New York for the regimental band) [Click here to see letter]

1864, June 23: Sae to Lawrence (RC) (Sae wants to know whether Tom was with Lawrence when the latter was severely injured at Petersburg on June 18, and says she expects to hear from Tom)

1864, October 26: Sae to Lawrence (RC) (Sae writes of the death on September 29 of their cousin, Billings Brastow, and his friendship with Tom; Tom had told her that he knew one of them would die in battle)

1864, December 13: Tom to Sae (BC) (Tom tells Sae he is now the 1st Division's provost marshal; writes about the Weldon Railroad raid and says that Lawrence stood the march well)

1864, December 18: Tom to John (BC) (Tom writes to John that he is "getting along first rate" in his new position as Division provost marshal; he has been to see a hanging [blundered by the 2nd Division provost marshal] as he might have to do it himself sometime soon; other camp news of Ellis Spear, General Griffin, the quality of the band in Lawrence's brigade, etc.)

1864, December 19: Lawrence to John (BC) (Lawrence says that Tom is well after the Weldon Railroad raid, but his expected brevet to Major "didn't come with the rest")

(no date, 1864): N.W. Clapp to Tom (BC) (Subject Unknown)

1865, January 16: Tom to Colonel Fred. T. Locke, Asst Adjutant General, Fifth Corps (NA, Tom's Mil. Recs.) (Tom applies for twenty day leave of absence to visit his mother, on account of her "precarious health" and recent deaths in the family) [Click here to see letter]

1865, February 12: Lawrence to Father (PHS) (Lawrence says he is sorry to hear Tom was "restless and roving" during his visit home; thinks Tom is too sensitive but that Father need not worry about him "indulging any incorrect habits")

1865, February 20: Colonel Charles D. Gilmore, 20th Maine, to Captain Morgan, Adjutant General (NA) (Gilmore recommends the "brave and gallant" Tom to receive a brevet to Major - attached to Griffin's letter below)

1865, February 22: General Charles Griffin [to Captain Morgan, Adjutant General?] (NA) (Griffin recommends Tom's brevet to Major, "no officer in the command more deserving")

1865, March 9: Lawrence to Sae (BC) (Lawrence reports that Tom is "finely" and made a dash with his horsemanship at a "grand Review")

1865, April 11: Tom to Sae (MHS) (Tom describes the scene after Lee's surrender; "Officers are shaking hands", Generals of both sides standing around together; "all quiet and peaceable"; and Tom expects to be home for good soon)

1865, April 14: Tom to John (Location Unknown; quoted by Pullen in Twentieth Maine) (Tom says he has seen all the great rebel generals at Appomattox, including Gordon, Longstreet, Pickett; describes their appearance in glowing terms)

1865, April 27: Lawrence to Colonel Fred. T. Locke, Asst Adjutant General, Fifth Corps (OR) (Lawrence recommends Tom for promotion to brevet Major for gallantry at Bethesda Church and Peebles Farm)

1865, May 7: Sae to Tom (RC) (Sae mentions Ellis Spear's friendship with Tom; and asks Tom to urge Lawrence to help their brother John - who had suffered a haemorrhage - get the job he was seeking with the Department of Internal Revenue in New York)

1865, May 27: Major William T. Gentry, Commissary of Musters, Fifth Corps, to Colonel Fred. T. Locke, Asst Adjutant General, Fifth Corps (NA, Tom's Mil. Recs.) (Gentry requests a replacement for Tom as Assistant Commissary of Musters, since he is soon to be mustered out)

1865, May 31: Major William T. Gentry, Commissary of Musters, Fifth Corps, to J.C. Bates, Chief Commissary of Musters (NA, Tom's Mil. Recs.) (Further to the May 27 application, with PS added after Gentry had been informed that Tom would be retained in service when the regiment was mustered out)

1865, June 5: Captain Holman Melcher, 20th Maine, to his brother (BC) (Melcher says that he doesn't expect to be a field officer in the new regiment as Tom is the senior captain and Ellis Spear also remains)

1865, June 6: Lawrence to Sae (BC) (Lawrence reports that "Tom - the Major" is well and has been retained in service by "special order of Genl Meade")

1865, July 9: Tom to Sae (BC) (Tom says that if there were a foreign war he would enlist even if only as a private; he plans to bring his black servant home with him)

1866, March 9: Ellis Spear to John L. Hodsdon, Maine Adjutant General (BC) (Spear praises Tom's service, telling how he rose from the ranks "by force of his own character", and had filled various positions with "marked ability and success")

1866, March 20: Lawrence to Fanny (MHS) (Passing reference to Tom speaking of John's attentions to Fanny)

(no date, but 1866-7): Delia and John to Sae (BC) (Newlyweds Delia and John write that Tom has been among their most welcome visitors in New York)

1867, January 10: Tom to Lawrence (RC) (Tom tells his brother that John is bedridden with further haemorrhages, and asks for Sae to come to New York to help Delia nurse him; Tom is working as a tobacco inspector and earning good money)

1867, January 14: Tom to Lawrence (RC) (Tom asks Lawrence to come to New York to talk with John's doctors about the possibility of sending him to Florida; John is better but neither he nor Delia has been told how ill he is; Tom, in whom the doctors had confided, is continuing to help as best he can)

1867, January 16: Tom and Sae to Lawrence (MHS) (Tom adds his letter below Sae's; he and Delia spent six sleepless nights with John until Sae's arrival, and still they stay up with him; John has not yet been told that he is dying but they will do so if he doesn't improve within 48 hours; Tom thinks that Lawrence should come immediately as John "could not die without seeing you")

1867, April 23: Sae to Lawrence (RC) (Sae writes that with John having [temporarily] rallied and travelled south with his wife, she could think of nothing but returning home, though she knew Tom would be lonely on his own in New York)

1867, December 21: Tom to Father (BC) (Tom says that all is well in New York and "Delia is here")

(no year, probably 1868 or 1869) March 1: Delia to Lawrence (RC) (Delia's growing affection for Tom; she writes that he feels that he is "born to be unlucky", and that she "cannot blame him for feeling very much discouraged"; asks Lawrence's help in obtaining a job for Tom in New York)

1869, April 2: Tom to Sae (BC) (Tom asks about Sae's young son - "I take considerable interest in babies some how lately" - and also wants to know how old Delia is)

1869, June 5: Lawrence to Tom (MHS) (Lawrence says that he can't get away to go to New York to help Tom with his business and new office, etc. - "You must make the best of the situation, & with the backers you have"; but will go to NY if it's a matter of life and death; a note in Tom's hand on the back of this letter says that he's written to Lawrence to tell him not to think of coming and "not to trouble himself one bit for me" as he[Tom] had made other arrangements)

1869, November: Mother to Lawrence (RC) (Tom had promised his Mother that he would be able to look after her if she could just manage until the following October, for he is to marry and says "we will all be happy"; but Mother has her doubts as to whether his plans will be realised)

1870, November 26: Lawrence to Father (BC) (Lawrence, having seen Tom while on a visit to New York, writes about his brother's business worries; Lawrence would like to see him working with "Mr Farms" in Boston)

1871, January 21: Father to Lawrence (RC) (Father writes that Tom and Delia have set up a business with her property)

(no date, early 1871): Lawrence to Grace (RC) (After paying them a visit, Lawrence reports that newlyweds Tom and Delia are "happy as gulls on a rock")

1872, March 21: Lawrence to Sae (RC) (Lawrence is concerned about Tom's lack of self-reliance and independence, caused perhaps by an excess of modesty; Lawrence says he is helping him set up in the "cyder" business now)

1872, July 25: Lawrence to Father (UMO) (Lawrence says that he would be glad to assist Tom in any way)

1873, May 16: Lawrence to Father (PHS) (Lawrence says he sees Tom occasionally and has sent him $100; will try to get him work outfitting the ship Bombay, of which Lawrence owns an eighth, when it arrives at Boston)

1873, November 28: Tom to "Dear Uncle" (BC) (Subject Unknown)

1876, January 5: Mother to Lawrence and Fanny (RC) (Mother mentions that Tom is at home and working in Bangor)

1877, January 5: Sae to Lawrence (RC) (Sae writes that Tom and Delia are "about as usual")

1879, May 24: Tom to Lawrence (LC) (Tom talks about the drawbacks of his job in the pension office and says there is much less chance of being promoted than in the army; he thinks he would like to be a port inspector or might try the post office)

1886, January 3: Sae to Lawrence (RC) (Sae fears that Tom is "on the highway to ruin", and writes of his money problems, describing how she gave Tom "some plain if not wholesome advice" when Delia had to go to Mother for a loan to pay rent, and how he had promised to do better; Sae wonders what he will do now that he has given up his job and is returning to Brewer - "There is absolutely no business here"; she asks Lawrence in Florida whether there might be work for him there)

1886, December 13: Lawrence to Grace (BC) (Lawrence mentions that "My brother & sister are well")

(no date, but late 1880s): Lawrence to J.E. Rankin (MHS) (Concerning a job for Tom in Florida)

1888, January 8: Fanny to Grace (RC) (Fanny writes of her brother Sam Adams, who shares Tom's drink problem, but "is a much truer man than Tom, although not making so good an outside appearance")

1889, July 18: A.E. Willard to Lawrence (YUL) (Willard, Tom's business partner in Florida, complains of Tom, saying that he left town when Willard found errors in the accounts, and that he had refused to pay for his board)

1889, September 9: John H. Jarvis to Lawrence (YUL) (Delia's father[?] complains of Tom "taking life too easy")

1890, November 28: Charles Farrington to Lawrence (PHS) (Tom's brother-in-law[Sae's husband] says that, on the death of Mother, Tom has repaid the money he owed to Lawrence and Sae)

1891, December 5: Wyllys to Fanny (RC): (Wyllys says things are looking up for Tom, although he "had a time of it here for a year"; Tom has been very kind to Wyllys and knows what it's like to be out of health and out of a job at the same time)

1895, March 19: Lawrence to Sae (LC) (Lawrence hopes to hear good news of Tom)

1896, May 16: Ellis Spear to Tom (UMO) (Subject unknown)

1896, June 30: Lawrence to Fanny (BC) (Lawrence reports that Tom is seriously ill and Sae thinks he will not recover)

1896, July 23: Sae to Lawrence (YUL) (Sae says that Tom is suffering greatly, but Delia still hopes he will recover)

1896, July 30: Sae to Lawrence (YUL) (Sae writes that she and Delia are exhausted from their constant nursing of Tom; only his iron constitution is keeping him alive through "so much misery", and he told Delia that he does not expect or want to live a month longer)

1896, December 29: Lawrence to Grace (RC) (Lawrence says that Delia is forlorn at Tom's death)

Copyright © 2001-2004 Rosemary Pardoe. Not to be reproduced without permission.
Last altered September 15, 2004.

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