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"A Case for a Defining Moment" Topic

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421 hits since 6 Jun 2021
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Jun 2021 9:25 p.m. PST

"Guiding his horse through the deep snow in the nearly impenetrable forest along the Rappahannock River, Maj. Samuel Chamberlain may have reflected on the events of his youth. He had enlisted and seen the elephant during the war with Mexico. Rather than a spit and polish soldier, however, Chamberlain had been a bit of a renegade, eventually deserting before his enlistment expired. If anyone had examined the records thoroughly enough when he re-entered the service in 1861, they might have found the army still considered him a deserter. At 6 feet, 2 inches tall, and probably still a little rough around the edges, Chamberlain must have cut his own path among the Boston Brahmins in the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry.

On February 18, 1863, Chamberlain had the tiresome task of inspecting the cavalry picket line between Hartwood Church and the Rappahannock River, in Stafford County, Virginia. As he pushed his horse through the woods, the temperature rose, and the snow became rain. Soon the roads and paths turned to mud and mire. Cold, wet, and miserable, Chamberlain's mood must have grown dark as he approached United States Ford.

Emerging from the trees, Chamberlain saw the Union pickets, men from the 16th Pennsylvania Cavalry, at ease and talking with the enemy. "I found the men…without arms, their arms being …a distance of twenty yards from them, their horses were feeding from nose bags and their saddle girths unloosened." Looking around, he saw all of the horses at the reserve post unsaddled, "in direct violation of my positive orders. When Lt. Henry Cranville identified himself as the officer in charge, Chamberlain placed him under arrest and ordered him to return to camp…."
More here

Part II here


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