Salute to the Fallen South

February 2nd, 2007  
Duty Honor Country

Topic: Salute to the Fallen South

On the evening of April 9, 1865, General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain received orders from General Grant that Chamberlain would receive the formal surrender of the Confederate Army. “A representative body of Union troops was to be drawn up in battle array at Appomattox Courthouse, and past this Northern delegation were to march the entire Confederate Army, both officers and men, with their arms and colors, exactly as in actual service, and to lay down these arms and colors, as well as whatever other property [that] belonged to the Rebel army, before our men.” The Confederates had heavily protested this ceremony calling it an act of humiliation. General Grant insisted on the ceremony, specifically citing the generous terms that he had offered to the fallen South.

The night before the formal surrender, General Chamberlain had decided to salute the Army of Virginia. The decision “was one for which I sought no authority nor asked forgiveness. Before us in proud humiliation stood the embodiment of manhood: men whom neither toils and sufferings, nor the fact of death, nor disaster, nor hopelessness could bend their resolve; standing before us now, thin, worn, and famished, but erect, with eyes looking level into ours, waking memories that bound us together as no other bond; was not such manhood to be welcomed back into a Union so tested and assured?” The next morning, on April 12, the salute was rendered.

“When General Gordon came opposite of me, I had the bugle blown and the entire line came to ‘attention’…The General was riding in advance of his troops, his chin drooped to his breast, downhearted and dejected in appearance almost beyond description. As the sound of that machine like snap of arms, however, General Gordon started, caught in a moment of its significance, and instantly assumed the finest attitude of a soldier. He wheeled his horse facing me, touching him gently with the spur, so that the animal slightly reared, and as he wheeled, horse and rider made one motion, the horses head swung down with a graceful bow and General Gordon dropped his swordpoint to his toe in salutation…On our part, not a sound of trumpet more, nor the roll of drum; not a cheer, nor word nor whisper of vain-glorying, nor motion of man standing again at the order, but an awed stillness rather, and breathing-holding, as if it were the passing of the dead.” After the war, General Gordon would address Chamberlain as “one of the knightliest soldiers of the Federal Army.”

As other units passed Chamberlain, one Confederate said as he was delivering his flag, “boys, this is not the first time you have seen this flag. I have borne it in the front of battle on many victorious fields of battle and I had rather die than surrender it to you.” Chamberlain replied, “I admire your noble spirit, and only regret that I have not the authority to bid you keep your flag and carry it home as a precious heirloom.” One officer said to Chamberlain, “General, this is deeply humiliating; but I console myself with the thought that the whole country will rejoice at the day’s business. Another officer said, “You astound us by your honorable and generous conduct. I fear that we should not have done the same to you had the case been reversed.” A third officer went even farther by saying, “I went into that cause I meant it. We had our choice of weapons and of ground, and we have lost. Now [pointing to the Stars and Stripes] that is my flag, and I will prove myself as worthy as any of you.”

However, most of the Confederates were too humiliated to be reversed so quickly. General Wise told Chamberlain, “You may forgive us but we won't be forgiven. There is a rancor in hour hearts which you little dream of. We hate you, go home, you take these fellows home. That’s what will end this war.” Chamberlain replied, “Don’t worry about the end of the war. We are going home pretty soon, but not till we see you home.” No matter how ill Chamberlain’s salute to the fallen South may have been received, it still remains one of the greatest acts of honor in the military history of the United States.

Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence.“Bayonet! Forward” My Civil War Reminiscences.
Gettysburg: Stan Clark Military books, 1994.

Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence. The Passing of the Armies: The Last Campaign of the
Armies. Gettysburg: Stan Clark Military books, 1915.

Dllard, Wallace M. Soul of the Lion; A Biography on General Joshua L. Chamberlain
Gettysburg: Stan Clark Military books, 1960.
February 2nd, 2007  
Good post, Doody.
February 2nd, 2007  
As it should have been. Thanks for putting that up Doody. Always respect your enemy even in defeat.
February 6th, 2007  
Originally Posted by bulldogg
As it should have been. Thanks for putting that up Doody. Always respect your enemy even in defeat.
Unless he's been behaving like a tit
May 16th, 2007  
Respect your enemy. If he's acting like a tit, treat him like a tit.I respect the men of the rebel army for what they did. They fought till they could fight no more, but would have kept fighting!

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