WEBB, Alexander S. (1835-1911),. Twenty Autograph letters signed ("Andy Webb," "Alex. S. Webb," "Webb") TO JOSHUA LAWRENCE CHAMBERLAIN (1828-1914), THE HERO OF LITTLE ROUND TOP, Riverdale on Hudson and Century Club, N.Y., 1899-1907. Together 38 pages, 8vo, some on stationery of New York Monuments Commission for the Battlefields of Gettysburg and Chattanooga.
A MOVING AND SPIRITED CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN TWO AGING GETTYSBURG MEDAL OF HONOR WINNERS
Webb touches on everything from Medal of Honor scandals, his own historical studies, and pension bills in this lively correspondence. Periodic scandals erupted during the postwar years over soldiers who received the award more because of political connections or, in the case of a Maine regiment, as a bribe for re-enlisting. "Valor for some," Webb tells Chamberlain contemptuously, "for the most a fraud. Stop it." (Eventually, in 1917, Congress revoked many of those unmerited awards.)
Webb was revising his 1881 The Peninsula: McClellan's Campaign of 1862: "I will renew & consolidate & change the style of the last Battle (2d Bull Run)," he says on 27 June 1904. "I will add Antietam. Also one page to preface 'Porter's Character & Personality.'" The still controversial issue of Fitz-John Porter's actions in the Second Manassas campaign trouble Webb. On 2 June he asks Chamberlain, "How much of Porter's misfortune can I leave out? I cannot be expected to make a defence. He does not require that....Now Dear Old Chum, be frank."
We have only Webb's side of this correspondence, yet Chamberlain is a vivid presence in Webb's fond recollections: "I think so often of your kindly thoughtful face and I wonder, Does he suffer often from those wounds?" (3 June 1905) The answer was, Yes, he did, and for the remainder of his life. "I am sorry to know that old wounds trouble a glorious old soldier" (13 August 1904). "But you are a man in every sense of the word, a Manly Man; and you will bear it all as Chamberlain can bear it" (3 June 1905).
Webb offers to help enact a soldier's retirement bill in Congress: (11 August 1905): "I have a strong brigade to bring up on the right and rear & maybe on the flank." His efforts were evidently thwarted by John A. T. Hull, "the Lord on that Committee on Military Affairs" (10 February 1906). "Did they serve for this?" he thunders on 26 February 1906. If the Congress did not appreciate Chamberlain's efforts, Webb certainly did. "You deserve a peaceful and a restful continuation of a well spent life. Scholar & patriot, wounded soldier famed for gallant actions--repeatedly gallant for years, not notorious for a mere dash. You should be recognized by the Representatives of the people because the people recognize you. But Chamberlain there is a certain bitterness on the part of regimental field officers in Congress, and it is due to the fact that but few of them were over anxious to expose themselves to bullets when they were planning elections and these men vote solidly against your recognition. Your offence was that you became greater than they. When wanted 61-65 you were influential" (4 January 1907).