Alexander Chambers was born in Great Valley, Cattaraugus County, New York, on August 23, 1832. When he was an infant, his family moved to nearby Ellicottville, the county seat. Here he attended the common school, and was appointed to West Point in 1849. He was graduated forty-third of fifty-two in the class of 1853 (John Bell Hood was forty-fourth) and was commissioned into the 5th Infantry. With this regiment he performed routine frontier and garrison duties until the outbreak of the Civil War when, as a newly commissioned captain of the 18th Infantry, he was detailed to recruiting duty in Iowa. Chambers was appointed colonel of the 16th Iowa Infantry on March 24, 1862, and with it took part in the battle of Shiloh, where he was twice wounded and was brevetted major in the Regular Army for gallant services. He was again severely wounded at Iuka and brevetted lieutenant colonel, and he was brevetted colonel for his services during the Vicksburg campaign. Shortly thereafter he was appointed a brigadier general of volunteers (to rank from August 11, 1863) and served as such until April 6, 1864, when his appointment was negated by the Senate—this action was taken, according to a descendant, because Chambers was not a legal resident of Iowa. From August, 1863, until the close of the war, General Chambers was in garrison and on furlough with his brigade, served as mustering officer in Iowa, and commanded a battalion of his Regular Army regiment near Chattanooga. He was brevetted brigadier general, U. S. Army, on March 13, 1865, in the omnibus promotions of that date. From that time until his death twenty-three years later, Chambers' career was uneventful—garrison duty, frontier service, and "unassigned" while awaiting orders. By the process of seniority, he was ultimately advanced to colonel of the 17th Infantry on March 1, 1886. During the brief remainder of his life General Chambers often was on sick leave. He died in San Antonio, Texas, on January 2, 1888, and was buried in Owatonna, Minnesota, the town to which his parents had moved in 1859.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.