Chamberlin, George Ephraim
Age: 24, credited to St. Johnsbury, VTVITALS
Birth: 06/30/1838, Lyndon, VTADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Mount Pleasant Cemetery, St. Johnsbury, VT
Check the cemetery for location/directions
and other veterans who may be buried there.
(Library of Congress)
Born in Lyndon. Son of Hon. Ephraim CHamberlin. His father, with his family, moved to St. Johnsbury eight or ten years before the war commenced. At the time of entering the service George E. was twenty-four years of age. Enlisted July 26, 1862. Mustered into United States service September 1, 1862. Commissioned Captain of Co. A, 11th Regiment, August 12, 1862, and Major August 26, 1862, and Lieutenant Colonel June 28, 1864. Died in Hospital at Sandy Hook, Va., August 22, 1864, from a wound received the day before while leading a heavy skirmish line near Charles Town, Virginia. At the time Colonel Chamberlin was wounded he was on horseback advancing toward the enemy. He was hit in the abdomen by a musket ball, and fell from his horse, expressing the conviction he felt that the wound was mortal. His body was brought home in the course of a few days, and funeral services took place on the Sabbath at the North Church. A sermon, in the absence of the pastor of the church, was preached by Rev. E. B. Webb of Boston. The attendance of sympathizing friends was large. His body, after service, was interred in the St. Johnsbury Cemetery, in lot No. 263. A year thereafter, a monument appropriately emblematizing the cause for which a precious life had been given, was erected upon the lot at the head of the grave. Colonel Chamberlin was present with his Regiment every day after it evacuated the defences of Washington, until his death, and actively participated in all its conflicts with the enemy. In action, he was cool, steadfast and brave. If, in discipline, he was apparently severe, it was because he was ambitious that his Regiment should excel, and render to the country the best possible service. It did so, while he was with it, and to the close of the war.
Col. Chamberlin fitted for College at the St. Johnsbury Academy, and entering Dartmouth College, he graduated with distinction in 1860. Proposing to enter the profession of the law, he spent some time at the law school in Harvard University, leaving this school in the summer of 1862. In the early part of the war he was in St. Louis, Mo., and witnessed the efforts of the rebels there to capture the city, and turn over the State to the side of the rebellion. He there came to the conclusion that his service, and life, if it need by, belonged to his country. He returned to St. Johnsbury, and earnestly entered upon the work of recruiting a Company for service in the Army. The Company was filled in about ten days. Having received the election of Captain he proceeded with it to Brattleboro where it was mustered into the United States service as Company A, 11th Regiment. In September, 1862, the Regiment reached Washington, and was assigned to duty in the defences of the Capital, occupying, at first, Fort Lincoln, and subsequently, Fort Totten, where Major CHamberlin was in command.
On the 12th of May, 1864, the Regiment was ordered to join the army of the Potomac, which, with fearful losses, had just passed through the Wilderness. The 11th arrived the 15th, in season to share in the later obstinate conflicts which took place at Spotsylvania. ON the 18th the 11th led a charge of the Vermont Brigade, and though it was the first action in which it engaged the enemy, it performed the duty with the coolness and valor of Veterans. At this time the regiment was sixteen hundred strong -- with more men on duty than could be counted in the thinned ranks of the old Brigade. It was here attached to, and became part of, the Vermont Brigade.
Albert G. Chadwick, compiler, Soldiers Record of the Town of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-5,(C. M. Stone & Co., St. Johnsbury, VT., 1883), pp. 40-42
George Ephraim Chamberlin was born in Lyndon, Vermont, 30 June, 1838, son of Ephraim & Mary A. (Chase) Chamberlin. His father moved his family from Lyndon to St. Johnsbury, Vermont in 1852, where Mr. Chamberlin was a dealer in West India Goods.
George was their eldest son. There were five children in the family, two sons and three daughters. George fitted for college at St. Johnsbury Academy. George graduated from Dartmouth College with distinction in 1860. Subsequently he began the study of law in St. Louis, Missouri where he stayed one year. He then went on to Harvard University Law School where he graduated in 1862. He was in St. Louis, Missouri during the early part of the war. He witnessed the efforts of the Rebels there to capture St. Louis and turn over the state to the side of the Rebellion. The there came to the conclusion that his service and life, if it need me, belonged to his country. When President Lincoln called for 300,000 men, George went back to St. Johnsbury and opened a recruiting office. In ten days' time he raised a company of 112 men. On 12 Aug., 1862, George officially enlisted at St. Johnsbury, Vermont for service in the Civil War at the age of 24 years in Co. "A" 11th Vt. Volunteers as Captain. The 11th went on to Brattleboro for training.
He was promoted Major of the Regiment, 26 Aug., 1862. In September 1862, the 11th reached Washington DC and was immediately assigned to duty in defense of our capital. Chamberlin was stationed mainly at Fort Lincoln in constructing and garrisoning fortifications for the Union Army. The ladies of St. Johnsbury presented beautifully designed swords to Captain Chamberlin and his lieutenants. Captain Chamberlin received his sword in Washington and responded:
"these swords will soon be unsheathed; with them we intend to strike our blow in crushing the monster Treason, and do our part in establishing the land of our fathers as an undivided and perpetual inheritance for the generations to come."
Captain Chamberlin's characteristic energy and discipline, insistence on neatness and order, strict attention to details, not only transformed the conditions in these forts, but he trained his men for achievements which General Sedgwick afterward said could not be outdone by any in the Army of the Potomac. The 11th was sent to reinforce the Army of the Potomac on 12 May, 1864 because of the great loss of many young Union soldiers at the Battle of the Wilderness. The 11th joined up with the Old Vermont Brigade and reported for duty at Spotsylvania. He led his troops at the battles of Cold Harbor and Petersburg. George married at St. James Church, New York City, 1 Oct., 1863, Adelia Gardner. On 28 June, 1864, he was promoted Lieutenant Colonel.
While leading a skirmish line, Chamberlin was severely wounded at the sharp engagement at Charles Town, (West) Virginia, 21 Aug., 1864. He was shot through the abdomen during the first advance. He fell from his horse into the arms of Lieutenant Dodge of his battalion near Opequon Creek. He was one of the 27 wounded and five killed in the 11th Regiment that day. Colonel Chamberlin died of wounds the next day at the hospital near Harper's Ferry, Virginia, 22 Aug., 1864 (age 26). The History of St. Johnsbury Vermont reported: "The deep feeling and solemnity of the assembly that filled the North Church in St. Johnsbury at the funeral service some days later, was one among many indications of the respect and honor in which he was held among his fellow townsmen. Rev. E. B. Webb of Boston preached the funeral sermon. The Chamberlin Post of the Grand Army fittingly carried the name of the man whose resolute soldierly qualities and forceful command gave distinction to the town he represented. In his early death, his generation lost a man of noble character and exceptional promise. He had won superior rank among his fellow students at Dartmouth College for scholarship, high-minded manliness and executive ability. A brilliant career was before him as a lawyer, but against the urgent representations of many friends, he sacrificed all other prospects under a matured and profound conviction of his personal duty as a patriot. In action he was cool, steadfast and brave. If, in discipline he was apparently severe, it was because he was ambitious that his Regiment should excel and render to the Country the best possible service. The dedication, it was, unto death, of a chivalrous and gallant soul. Vale, frater, vale ave atque vale!" Chamberlin's body was interred in the St. Johnsbury Cemetery in Lot No. 263.
For more details see: Letters of George E. Chamberlin, who Fell in the Service of His Country Near Charles Town, (W)Va., August 21st, 1864, By George Ephraim Chamberlin, Mrs. Caroline (Chamberlin) Lutz, published by H. W. Rokker, 1883 (393 pages); held at Rauner Library, Dartmouth College, Call No. B C35555l.
Article courtesy of Linda M. Welch, Dartmouth College.
The Vermont Journal, January 7, 1865
Died in Hospital, at Sandy Hook, Md., Aug. 22d, 1864, George E. Chamberlain, Lieut. Col. 1st Vt. Artillery, from a wound received while leading his battalion, on the skirmish line, during an engagement near Charlestown, Va., August 21.
Although the above record be brief, and has had a thousand parallels during the last three years, yet it is the obituary of an officer and man, who at the time of his decease, had in prospect a career of far more than ordinary usefulness and distinction.
Born and reared during his earlier life in a town of Northern Vermont, his character seemed to have something of the stability and grandeur of the scenery, which, everywhere ennobling in its influence, surrounds his native place.
Though accustomed to manual labor in boyhood, and exhibiting an unusual talent for business, he yet early manifested a desire to obtain a thorough education. Accordingly he began his preparatory studies at the Academy in the village where he lived.
While here he labored with that same untiring energy and perseverance which so eminently characterized his after life, as will be seen in the fact that, (as I think he has told me,) he passed on in his course, without any considerable encouragement from his parents, who very naturally desired to see those fine business talents turned at once to some practical account.
From the Academy he entered Dartmouth College in the autumn of 1856. Here too, that strong determination, always a prominent trait in his character, carried him along, sweeping away every obstacle to his progress. Relying mainly upon his own resources, he pursued his course through College, this feeling of independence being most agreeable to his exceptional cast of mind, and this self-reliance gave conscious strength to his character.
While in College he was a marked man-decided in his opinions, frank in his conduct, indifferent to popular favor, dignified in his bearing and intercourse with his associates, prompt and thorough in all his exercises, and much esteemed by his instructors. In 1860 he graduated with a distinction honorable to himself, to the class, and to the college.
With the legal profession in view, as his life work, he at once began the study of law. He completed his professional studies at the Law School in Harvard University, during the summer of 1862.
Then came before his mind the decision of a life question. On the one hand, was a liberal culture obtained by years of severe labor, a fondness for the chosen profession, predictions strongly in favor of civil life, personal preferences against the war, large executive ability, prospective eminence and social position. On the other, the call of a Country in peril.
Should he take all these hard earned acquisitions, so to say, in his hands, relinquish, at least, for a time, his life work, and lay all with his life, if need were upon the altar of a suffering country- a costly offering-or should he pursue the course which he had marked out for himself in so bright a coloring, and be deaf to her imperative demands? This was the simple question. Possibly duty and desire came in conflict. There was but one course for him. He was swift in making the decision. In opposition to the entreaties of friends, his own inclinations, the attraction of a much loved home, he conscientiously felt it to be his duty to go. This was enough. Without waiting at all to recover from the fatigue and exhaustion incident to a long term of study, he hastened at once to the town of his abode, and obtaining the requisite papers, began recruiting a company. Working with characteristic energy and promptness, in less than ten days, as I remember, he raised more than the maximum number of a Company in Infantry, was elected Captain, and going to Brattleboro, succeeded in getting it mustered as Co A, 11th regiment from Vermont.
While at that palace of rendezvous, not a little to his surprise, a commission of Major was put into his hands. With this rank he accompanied the 11th Reg., Vt. Vols., when organized, to Washington in Sept. 1862. The regiment, contrary to its expectation, was assigned to duty in he defenses of the City. Here it remained a little more than a year and a half, doing garrison duty in detachments, at several posts. These posts at first were commanded by the field officers, the command of each varying in importance with his rank.
To Chamberlain, (then Major), fell the command of Fort Totten. And that fort, with its surroundings, at first rude and incompetent, at length, under his directing hand, finished and invested with an air of neatness and beauty, stands today an enduring memorial of his excellent taste, good judgment, perseverance and discipline, and fidelity to the responsible trust committed to his care.
He subsequently commanded Fort Lincoln, a larger and more important command. He exhibited the same interest in keeping in order and improving such of the military work as came under his care, that he would have shown in his own private business. He insisted upon order, neatness, convenience and perseverance in everything pertaining to his command.
On the 12th of May 1864, the Regiment hastened from the defense of the city to join the army of the Potomac, which had just fought its way, in a most fearful and deadly struggle, through the wilderness.
For the sake of convenience, that large and splendid body of men, fifteen hundred strong was divided into three battalions. To the command of one of these Major Chamberlain was assigned, and he was always with it, on the march, on picket, and in battle, sharing the fortune of the brave men whom he led.
And though perhaps it were invidious to particularize when all did so well, yet, if I mistake not, in the first engagement in which the regiment ever participated, his battalion chanced to be in the fight, and conducted gallantly.
At Cold Harbor, during those twelve long, dry dusty, days of imminent and incessant danger, he was always ready, as were those who followed him, to go where duty called, and there was no call without danger.
At Petersburg, in the absence of Col. Warner, and on account of a wound received in battle, and of Lieut. Colonel Benton, who had resigned, in consequence of a protracted illness, the command of the regiment devolved upon Major Chamberlain, and as its commander, he shared its fortunes, through all those days of fatigue, watchfulness, of labor and danger, at Petersburg, and until after its return to Washington from its first rapid and exhausting march through Maryland, and into the valley of the Shenandoah. So far as I know, he managed the men with efficiency, skill and satisfaction in themselves, and although he had been previously regarded by some as severe, almost exacting, yet, by his kindness and considerate treatment, to their surprise, they found themselves more and more endeared to him every day. In this I think I have not misinterpreted the feeling of the regiment.
During the last part of July, Colonel Warner again resumed command, and Major Chamberlin received the well-deserved commission of Lieut. Colonel of the regiment, and in the same capacity served with it during its marches up and down the valley, until, in just four short weeks from the day the new commission was put into his hand, on a bright Sabbath morning made gloomy by the event, he received a summons which in a few hours he obeyed to a higher and sweeter service we trust, in the skies.
And it is our fervent prayer that the devoted life, whose bright young life has been thus, suddenly darkened by a great sorrow, may receive that sustaining faith, that heaven-born home that calm joy which sometimes have their birth in perplexing darkness, in the view of earthly hopes, in the surging of unrest and grief. In Christ's light may she see light. ~A friend.
Contributed by Cathy Hoyt.