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Glimpses of Soldiers' Lives: Edwin Chamberlain

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Edwin Chamberlain of Company G, 11th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment
Edwin Chamberlain of Company G, 11th New Hampshire Infantry Regiment
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.36455

Edwin Chamberlain was born on January 27th, 1844, in Bath, New Hampshire.  He enlisted as a corporal in the G Company of the 11th New Hampshire Infantry of the Union army on September 2nd, 1862 during the American Civil War.

Gen McClellan's HQ Army of the Potomac, Pleasant Valley, Md
Gen McClellan's HQ Army of the Potomac, Pleasant Valley, Md. Drawing by Alfred Waud, 1862 ca. September.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.21654

The regiment, which consisted of 1,006 officers and men, left New Hampshire on September 11.  They were shuffled around amongst commanders and sites—reporting to Major-General Wool in Baltimore; then Brigadier-General Casey in Washington D.C.; to Arlington Heights and General Briggs; to Sandy Hook, Maryland and General McClellan; and finally to Pleasant Valley, Maryland under the command of Brigadier-General Edward Ferrero.

The unit became the Second Brigade of the Second Division of the Ninth Army Corps, a designation it would retain throughout the war.  On October 27th, the regiment left Pleasant Valley, and it arrived at Falmouth, Virginia, on November 19th.  Somewhere between Falmouth and Fredericksburg, Chamberlain disappeared.  He was reported to have deserted on November 26th, 1862.

Doctors examining a Federal prisoner returned from prison
Doctors examining a Federal prisoner returned from prison. Photograph, between 1861 and 1865.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3g07961

This photograph suggests the condition of prisoners after they were released from Confederate prisons.

Chamberlain had not, in fact, deserted.  He had been captured, and would remain a Confederate prisoner until April of 1863.

He was reported as “under arrest” and then absent again on April 11th.  For the next year, through the changing handwriting of two copyists, he was reported as “absent sick” with persistent notes of an as-yet-uninvestigated deserter case.

Finally, on the Company Muster Roll for September and October of 1864 comes word of Chamberlain’s death.  It was at Nelson General Hospital, the preceding January 23rd, of inflammation of the lungs.

"Charge of desertion removed,” states a notation from the War Department, issued four years later.  “Was Prisoner of War from November 1862 to April 1863 and absent sick in Hospital from August 14, 1863 to date of death.”

Sources:

Cogswell, Leander W. "Eleventh Regiment, New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry (Three Years)." Regiment Data. The American Civil War Research Database. http://asp6new.alexanderstreet.com/cwdb/cwdb.object.details.aspx?handle=regiment&id=101195 External link [subscription resource - access inside Library of Congress buildings]


Compiled by: Ann Tyler Moses, Liljenquist Family Fellow, 2012. Last updated 2012 July.
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  November 9, 2012
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