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About the Author

Thomas Chamberlin

Thomas Chamberlin was born March 18, 1839 and raised on a farm just outside Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  He began study at the University of Lewisburg (now Bucknell University) at only 14 years of age, graduating with high honors in 1858.  After graduation he became the superintendent of an academy in Mifflin County for seven months before he traveled to Germany to study law and philosophy in the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg. 

As political tension grew, Chamberlin returned to Lewisburg early in 1861.  When the Civil War finally broke out in April of 1861, Thomas recruited a company of men called the “Slifer Guards,” commissioned by Eli Slifer, and officially known as Company D, 5th Pennsylvania Reserves.  Chamberlin became its captain and quickly won the respect and obedience of his soldiers with his kind and affable personality. 

The “Slifer Guards” fought in the Peninsula Campaign in the spring of 1862 with General McClellan and the Army of the Potomac.  That summer they participated in the battles of Mechanicsville, Beaver Dam Creek, Gaines Mill, and Glendale.  On June 30th, at Glendale, while picking up the regimental flag from a fallen color bearer, Chamberlin was shot in the left leg just below the knee.  After the Union retreat, Chamberlin was left on the battlefield and captured. He was taken to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia, but returned north again by early September.  He was sent to a hospital in Baltimore to recover and while there was offered the rank of major in the newly formed 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers, which he accepted.  This regiment was known as the “Bucktail Brigade,” named in admiration of the accomplishments of the 1st Pennsylvania Riflemen, another Civil War regiment.

The 150th participated in the opening day of the battle at Gettysburg—July 1, 1863—holding the position near Edward McPherson’s farm.  They were attacked from both sides and the regiment suffered heavy casualties.  Chamberlin was among the seriously wounded, having suffered from a bullet in his right shoulder and back.

Chamberlin was unable to return to active duty and resigned his commission on March 15, 1864, having received a promotion to lieutenant colonel only nine days earlier.  He eventually settled in Philadelphia and worked in the insurance business.  Published in 1905, his book, History of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Regiment Pennsylvania Volunteers, has been recognized as one of the best regimental histories written by a veteran.  He often spoke at reunions of the 150th.  He gave an address titled “The 150th in the Battle” on November 11, 1889 when a monument was erected for his regiment at Gettysburg.  He also spoke at McPherson Farm to the Association of the 150th Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves on July 1, 1913 — the 50th anniversary of the battle at Gettysburg. 

Thomas Chamberlin died on February 22, 1917 in Philadelphia and was buried in the Lewisburg Cemetery with his wife, Frances.

Please visit the following link for materials authored by Thomas Chamberlin maintained in the Their Own Words database:

Chamberlin, Thomas, 1839-1917

Researched, authored, and edited by Margaret Browndorf.

Page created: April 29, 2009                                            close window