The Chamberlain Round Table website will be updated through the summer with new content and important news about our plans for the 2020–2021 program year. We encourage everyone who enjoys this website to pass the link along to family, friends and others who may share our interest in the Civil War era. Your support is vital to our round table and is greatly appreciated.


We have received news of Kerck Kelsey’s passing on March 26. The obituary linked below is from the Portland Press Herald. Kerck was a member of the Joshua L. Chamberlain Civil War Roundtable and was a speaker on several occasions, the last being this past December: “Abel Streight, Benjamin Grierson, and the Tale of Two Cavalry Raids.” (See our December meeting post below.)

In addition, Kerck was an, if not the, expert on the Washburn family and he recently delivered a talk at the South Freeport Congregational Church on the family. Related to the Washburn’s, he discovered his family and this interest led to his pursuing a master’s degree in history and an interest in civil war history. His family and history interest led to a close association with the Wasburn-Norlands family home museum in Livermore and many presentations at many different locations. All of this happened after he retired. We certainly will miss him.

Steve Garrett, President


Our March speaker, Rev. Dr. Alan Andraeas, presented “Shepherd’s of the Sea: Civil War Naval Chaplains.” Rev. Andraeas covered the evolution of navy chaplains, including Rev. Benjamin Balch (the “fighting parson”), who served as the first chaplain in the Continental Navy and his son, William Balch, the U. S. Navy’s first commissioned Chaplain. The presentation followed the evolution from appointed chaplains to the Chaplain Corps, as well as the regulations that authorized and directed chaplains during this period.

Rev. Andraeas also discussed the evolving duties of chaplains and the role the Christian Commission took to supplement the chaplains’ work during the Civil War. There was also some interesting trivia: the Confederate Navy had no chaplains on their vessels and, the only pennant allowed to fly above the U.S. flag is the Chaplain’s Pennant, indicating a service was being held.


The first meeting of 2020 featured long-time JLC CWRT member Steve Bunker, who agreed to step up and accommodate an unavoidable schedule change. Steve discussed the challenging, but successful effort to develop and place the 1st Maine Cavalry monument at Middleburg, Virginia. He went on to summarize how post-Civil War economic realities impacted the extent to which Maine communities memorialized (or were unable to memorialize) wartime sacrifices. Using his experience and insights as a framework, Steve took the opportunity to urge us to consider ways to remember and memorialize the many Mainers whose Civil War service (including naval service) deserves to be recalled.


On December 12 Kerck Kelsey presented “A Tale of Two Cavalry Raids” that compared and contrasted Col. Abel Streight’s raid into Mississippi and northern Alabama and Col. Benjamin Grierson’s raid into central Mississippi. The bold incursions deep into Confederate territory had common objectives, to cut critical rail lines and stymie the resupply of Confederate forces operating in the western theater. The two raids also revealed important variables – the consequence of command decisions, military preparation, and ingenuity. Col. Streight’s raid would end in a tactical failure. Col. Grierson’s raid was a tactical success. But both raids, in their own way, facilitated General Grant’s victory at Vicksburg, a conspicuous strategic victory. Many thanks to Kerck for sharing his insights.



Many thanks go out to Curtis Mildner for sharing his boundless insights into the 5th Maine History Museum at Peaks Island, Maine, for our November 14th program. His “Soldiers in the Windows” presentation brought the museum property, the building, and the memorial panes to life. A very good reason to take a ride out to Peaks!


The round table stepped into the past for the October 2019 program as Elizabeth Hallett explained Civil War-era mourning customs. Elizabeth was “properly” dressed for the occasion and shared several interesting examples of mourning accessories.

Many thanks to Carol Manchester for providing a special cake and coffee to celebrate General Chamberlain’s 191st birthday (September 8, 1828) before September’s scheduled program.

The September 2019 program featured Mark Dunkelman, who spoke about the little-known, yet significant “brickyard fight” during the Battle of Gettysburg and the mural he created to commemorate the engagement. Mark and his wife Annette shared a pencil sketch of the mural during the presentation.