re: Winfield Scott Stephens

“Dear Jeff;

The period photograph of the two young soldiers referenced in the subject line of this email, and reproduced on your 49th Ohio website, comes from a small book entitled “Civil War Letters of an Ohio Soldier”.​ The book was written by Dick and Judy Chamberlain. Samuel Oscar Chamberlain was Dick’s grandfather, and Dick has the original of the photograph in his possession.

I have a copy of the book for two reasons. First, Dick Chamberlain,  who soon will be 84 years old was my 8th grade teacher(1957-1958) in Whittier, CA. He instilled in me a passion for history in general, and the Civil War in particular that has lasted ever since. “Mr. Chamberlain” lived a few doors from me and took an interest in me far beyond the usual teacher-student relationship. At the time he shared with me that he had an ancestor in the Union Army from the state of Ohio, the state from which all my family hailed. That ancestor of course was Sgt. Samuel Oscar Chamberlain, Co E, 49th OVI.

The second reason I have the book is because 40 years after I was Dick’s student, I discovered that I had an ancestor, Walter Jackson Merchant, who was a Sgt. in Co. K, 49th OVI. Small world! Thus, the experiences related by Samuel Oscar Chamberlain are basically the experiences of my GG-Grandfather, Walter Merchant.

In reading Samuel Oscar  Chamberlain’s letters, I became somewhat fixated on identifying his friend, “Scott”, who is mentioned frequently in the letters, and is posed with Chamberlain in the period photograph. I know  the book does not clearly identify “Scott”. Dick Chamberlain mentions checking the roster of Co E, 49th Ohio and found no individual with the first name “Scott”. He speculated that Scott might have been Franklin S. Richards. But that is wrong.

“Scott” was actually Winfield Scott Stephens (Stevens). He enlisted the same day as Samuel Oscar Chamberlain and is listed as being the same age as Samuel, age 18. The “Roster of Ohio Soldiers, 1861-1865” further states that “Winfield S. Stephens” was promoted to Corporal in March 1862. He was wounded at Stone’s River Battle on December 31, 1862, and discharged on Surgeon’s Certificate of Disability,  May 19, 1863 at Nashville. Samuel Chamberlain’s letter dated from Camp Drake (near Nashville, TN) on May 4, 1863 mentions visiting Scott. He writes  that “his wound is healing very well”, and says that Scott expected to be going home within the month.

After further research, I discovered that Scott’s mother’s maiden name was Chamberlain. Scott’s mother, Martha Chamberlain Stephens (Stevens) was a first cousin to Samuel Oscar Chamberlain’s father, Scudder Chamberlain. So Samuel’s friend, Scott, was also his 2nd cousin.

Thought you would  appreciate having this information for your website. By the way, you have a terrific website!

Jon Bell
Chandler, AZ

PS: I was raised in Whittier and lived in San Diego up until my business failed in 2010.  While in San Diego, I was for several years (1999-2003) a member of Co. I, 2nd US Cavalry Re-enactors. Sure miss the fun and camaraderie of those days. I mention this as your group participates in many of the same events as the 2nd Cav. and brings back some fond memories.”