The May 2021 round table meeting featured our president, Steve Garrett, who shared his interest and insights concerning two nineteenth century American literary gems, the poets Emily Elizabeth Dickinson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The presentation focused on the unique influences, particularly the wartime influences, that shaped the work of these gifted poets. Steve pointed out these influences by sharing some of their familiar and some perhaps not-so-familiar works with us. The presentation provided a welcome look into the lives of these remarkable poets and how their work illuminates the profound impact of the Civil War on the social fabric of the nation.

Our June 10 program (via Zoom) will highlight acclaimed author James Hessler discussing “Gettysburg’s Peach Orchard: Longstreet, Sickles, and the bloody fight for the ‘commanding ground’ along the Emmitsburg Road.” This critical aspect of the battle is the stuff of legend and we look forward to a fantastic presentation to close out the 2020 – 2021 season.

We continue to be hopeful that we will resume in-person meetings in September. The Board of Trustees continues its commitment to keep you informed as information unfolds by way of our website and direct communication from our secretary. The continued support of our members is critical as we navigate these challenging times.


During March and April the round table continued our programming via the Zoom platform. In March, Edward Achorn discussed and answered questions concerning the research and approach for his book about Lincoln’s second inaugural address. We look forward to a follow-up program next season. In April, Bill Hallett presented a detailed examination of the Battle of Monocacy. Many thanks to Ed, Bill and all of our presenters for sharing these fascinating programs. On May 13 our round table president, Steve Garrett, will be discussing “Civil War Poets: Dickinson and Longfellow.”

Revised 06/01/2021

It is a real pleasure to say that our meetings via the Zoom platform continue to be a successful foray into the world of remote meeting. In January and February 2021 the round table enjoyed Noma Petroff’s examination of “The U.S. Colored Troops: How African Americans Fought for the Union” and Libby Bischoff’s program concerning “Photography, Memory and the Civil War.” Both sessions were well done and well attended. We thank our presenters for sharing their many insights.


We did it! The Chamberlain Round Table began meeting via Zoom for our November 2020 meeting. In November, we were pleased to have Susan Bowditch with us to discuss the history of racism in America. In December, we enjoyed Mike Bell’s presentation that examined the often overlooked subject of President Lincoln’s New England connections. We are looking forward to additional relevant programs and exploring new insights into the study of Civil War history.

It looks like the Chamberlain Round Table will meet remotely using the Zoom platform for awhile longer. Getting set up is quite easy. Find the app and install it. Round table members will get an email invitation before each meeting and away we go! Once we get a few remote meetings under our belts, it will become second nature. If you want to enjoy the kind of programming we are known for, for the time being Zoom is the means to get access. To paraphrase Admiral Farragut: “Damn the computer glitches … full speed ahead!”


The Chamberlain Round Table trustees are pleased to announce that plans are in motion to resume monthly meetings remotely (via Zoom) beginning November 12. In the near future, our secretary will email Chamberlain Round Table members specific information and instructions on how to access the presentation.


The speaker for the November 12 Zoom meeting will be Susan Bowditch:


Eradicating racism is on the conscience of many Americans today, much like it was at the beginning of Reconstruction, nearly 150 years ago. The trigger that finally set off our current concern was, of course, the killing of George Floyd. In order to not only capture this moment, but also understand it, we need to go back in time to the beginnings of racism—to the Atlantic Slave Trade—and work our way forward.

Susan Bowditch spent 7 years in Ghana, West Africa mostly in the town of Cape Coast. It was there that she began research on the Atlantic Slave Trade re: two UNESCO Heritage Sites: Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle. Both had been legitimate trading sites, but the former underground warehouses of each became holding pens for enslaved persons awaiting ships to the Americas. Susan has been teaching at Midcoast Senior College about the consequences of slave trading for several years, including courses on the Atlantic Slave Trade, racism, white privilege, systemic racism and reparations. Susan lives in Topsham.


The Joshua Chamberlain Civil War Round Table will be sponsoring a course for the Midcoast Senior College starting on November 9. The course will be 5 weeks long and will be presented on Zoom. Registration is now open. To register, go to the MSC website at:


African Americans: The Civil War and Aftermath

The role and status of Americans of African descent have been major aspects of the culture and politics of the United States since the nation’s inception. It was the major issue in the conflict that led to the American Civil War and was an issue throughout the war. The war resolved some issues related to slavery, but left most issues related to the role and status of African Americans unresolved. The war and post-war years created the cultural and political structures that continue to define much of American society and politics. This course will offer a series of presentations by different individuals on topics that are intended to broaden our understanding of historical events in this pivotal period in our history. Presentations will address topics including African-American resistance to slavery, emancipation, reconstruction and post-reconstruction “Jim Crow” practices, and the struggle for civil rights during the 20th century.

Schedule and Presenters: 

  • November 9 – Patrick Rael (Bowdoin)
  • November 16 – Noma Petroff (Independent)
  • November 23 – Ashley Towle (USM)
  • November 30 – Chris Asch (Colby)
  • December 7 – Brian Purnell (Bowdoin)

With primary consideration for the health and safety of everyone, in light of the board’s concern about maintaining social distancing within a confined space, and in view of the uncertainty that many other organizations face as they determine their own protocols for opening, the board has cancelled meetings until January.  During this interim, while circumstances prevent in-person meetings, the board is exploring alternate ways of offering presentations and possible speakers.  It is with much disappointment that this decision was made, but it was determined with best interests in mind.


Joshua L. Chamberlain House, Brunswick, Maine. Courtesy Pejepscot History Center.

The Pejepscot History Center in Brunswick has announced that the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum and the Skolfield-Whittier House will reopen on a private, appointment-only basis on July 7, 2020. The following website provides information and guidelines for visiting and research activities:

General information concerning preservation efforts at the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum and other PHC activities can be accessed at: