The Passing of the Armies: An Account of the Final Campaign of the Army of the Potomac, Based upon Personal Reminiscences of the Fifth Army Corps
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
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Written by one of the Union army’s most celebrated officers, The Passing of the Armies offers a remarkable first-hand account of the final campaign of the Army of the Potomac. In his gripping memoir, first published in 1915, General Joshua Lawrence
no permission, no forgiveness. Here, led by valiant Small, that 16th Maine, which under heroic Tilden held its appointed station on the fierce first day of Gettysburg, obedient to the laws, like Spartans, for their loyalty and honor’s sake; cut through, cut down, swept over, scattered, captured; so that at dreary nightfall the hushed voices of only four officers and thirty-eight men answered the roll-call. With them the 94th New York, which under Colonel Adrian Root shared its fate and glory.
Gregory earnestly carrying out my instructions to guard that flank. I caught a glimpse of some cavalry in the woods on our right, which I judged to be Roberts’ North Carolina Brigade, that had been picketing the White Oak Road, and so kept Gregory on the alert. The influence of the sharp skirmish fire on Crawford’s right tended to draw the men towards it; but I used all my efforts to shorten step on the pivot and press the wheeling flank, in order to be ready for the “swing” to the left. Still,
the battle put them at the enemy’s right and center, a mile away on the Dinwiddie Road and beyond. Fortunately for me, Ayres comes up, his troops right upon the angle—the right, the Maryland Brigade on the “return”—brave Bowerman down—and Winthrop’s Brigade—gallant Winthrop gone—reaching beyond, across the White Oak Road, driving a crowd before them. I have only time to say to Ayres, “Gwyn is in on the right”; for Sheridan takes him in hand. “I tell you again, General Ayres, you are firing into
lieutenants, and a thousand and fifty men sent in by my own brigade; and four hundred and seventy men by Gregory’s. It is not impossible that some of these prisoners turned over to General Sheridan’s provost marshal, may have been counted twice,–with the cavalry captures as well as my own. It should be said that the prisoners taken by us were due to the efficiency and admirable behavior of all the troops in our part of the field near the “angle,” and not alone to that of my immediate command.
that “victory is always with the heaviest battalions.” All great contests are inspired by sentiments, such as justice, pity, faith, loyalty, love, or perhaps some stirring ideal of the rightful and possible good. Even the commoner instincts partake of this nature: self-respect, sanctity of the person, duty and affection towards others, obedience to law, the impulse to the redress of injury, vengeance for outrage. Something of this entered into our motive at first. But deeper tests brought deeper