Samuel Chamberlain

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Samuel Chamberlain
Samuel E. Chamberlain.png
BornNovember 27, 1829
Center Harbor, New Hampshire
Worcester, Massachusetts
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Army
Union Army
Years of service1846–1849
RankUnion Army colonel rank insignia.png Colonel
Union Army brigadier general rank insignia.svg Brevet Brigadier General
Unit2nd Illinois Volunteer Regiment
1st U.S. Dragoons
Commands held1st Massachusetts Cavalry
5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry
Battles/warsMexican–American War
American Civil War

Samuel E. Chamberlain (November 27, 1829 – November 10, 1908) was a soldier, painter, and author who travelled throughout the American Southwest and Mexico. He and his wife, Mary, had three children.

Early life[edit]

Chamberlain was born in Center Harbor, New Hampshire to Ephraim Chamberlain [1]and soon afterward moved to Boston, where he spent most of his childhood. In 1844 at age 15, he left home without permission to go to Illinois. Two years later he joined the 2nd Illinois Volunteer Regiment and headed to Texas for the Mexican–American War. In San Antonio Chamberlain joined the regular army and became part of the 1st U.S. Dragoons. He fought at the Battle of Buena Vista and several other operations in the Mexican–American War. In 1849 he was found to be a deserter when he returned home to Boston to raise a family.

Samuel Chamberlain was also involved in some less savory aspects of the Texas/Mexico border disputes. Most notably, he rode with the infamous Glanton gang, under the command of John Glanton, and was involved in the taking of scalps under highly questionable circumstances to claim bounties from Mexican authorities for raiding Indians.

In the Civil War[edit]

During the Civil War, after being chief of staff to Brigadier General William W. Averell and Lieutenant Colonel of the 1st Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment, Chamberlain commanded Camp Parole at Annapolis, Maryland for a time and also commanded the 5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry, an all African-American unit, with the rank of colonel. He was wounded on six different occasions.[2] On February 24, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Chamberlain for the award of the honorary grade of brevet brigadier general, U.S. Volunteers, to rank from February 24, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the award on March 3, 1865.[3] Chamberlain was mustered out of the U.S.Volunteers on September 16, 1865.[4]

Later life[edit]

After the war, Chamberlain was warden of state prisons in Massachusetts and Connecticut.[5]

After settling in Massachusetts with his family, Chamberlain became well known for his charming paintings, which consist largely of landscapes and battle scenes concerning the Mexican-American war. A large collection is held at the San Jacinto Museum of History. Chamberlain is also the author of a harrowing account of his early adventures with the Glanton gang entitled My Confession: The Recollections of a Rogue. It was the primary source for author Cormac McCarthy's 1985 novel Blood Meridian.[6]

Chamberlain died on November 10, 1908 in Worcester, Massachusetts.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988
  2. ^ Eicher, John H. and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, p. 169. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  3. ^ Eicher and Eicher, 2001, p. 742
  4. ^ Eicher and Eicher, 2001, p. 169
  5. ^ Hunt, Roger D. and Brown, Jack R., Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue, p. 206. Gaithersburg, MD: Olde Soldier Books, Inc., 1990. ISBN 1-56013-002-4.
  6. ^ "My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue by Samuel E. Chamberlain — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs, Lists". Good Reads. Retrieved 27 August 2017.


  • Chamberlain, Samuel E.: My Confession: Recollections of a Rogue; ed. WH Goetzmann. Grimes, William
  • Eicher, John H. and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands. Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 2001. ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Goetzmann, William H.: Sam Chamberlain's Mexican War: The San Jacinto Museum of History Paintings
  • "William H. Goetzmann, Pulitzer-Winning Historian, Dies at 80", The New York Times, September 11, 2010. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
  • Hunt, Roger D. and Brown, Jack R., Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue. Gaithersburg, MD: Olde Soldier Books, Inc., 1990. ISBN 1-56013-002-4.


External links[edit]