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Mexican War memoirist and rogue dies

November
10
1908

On this day in 1908, soldier-adventurer-artist Sam Chamberlain died at the age of seventy-eight. Chamberlain was born in New Hampshire in 1829, moved to Boston with his family at an early age, and ran away to Illinois in 1844. Shortly after the outbreak of the Mexican War he joined a volunteer regiment and came to Texas, where he transferred to the First United States Dragoons of the regular army. Chamberlain had many rollicking adventures in Mexico, fighting guerillas, drinking in cantinas, and having countless love affairs with Mexican women. He also participated in and painted numerous pictures of the battle of Buena Vista. In 1849 he was listed as a deserter, and subsequently rode with the notorious scalp-hunter Jack Glanton all over northern Mexico. Chamberlain had moved back to Boston by 1854. He returned to military service during the Civil War and rose to the rank of brevet brigadier general. He led the all-black Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry to Clarksville, near the mouth of the Rio Grande, after the war had ended. Chamberlain's My Confession: the Recollections of a Rogue, published in 1956, is perhaps the most vivid, revealing, earthy account of the life of an enlisted soldier in the war with Mexico.

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