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Chamberlain in the 1860s
|32nd Governor of Maine|
January 2, 1867 – January 4, 1871
|Preceded by||Samuel Cony|
|Succeeded by||Sidney Perham|
|6th President of Bowdoin College|
|Preceded by||Samuel Harris|
|Succeeded by||William De Witt Hyde|
|Born||Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain
September 8, 1828
|Died||February 24, 1914 (aged 85)
|Resting place||Pine Grove Cemetery
|Spouse(s)||Fanny Chamberlain (1855 – 1905; her death)|
|Children||Grace Dupee (Chamberlain) Allen (b. 1856)
Infant son (unnamed) (d. 1857)
Harold Wyllys Chamberlain (b. 1858)
Emily Stelle Chamberlain (d. 1860)
Gertrude Loraine Chamberlain (d. 1865)
|Alma mater||Bowdoin College|
|Awards||Medal of Honor|
|Nickname(s)||“Lion of the Round Top”, “Bloody Chamberlain”|
|Allegiance||United States of America
|Service/branch||United States Army
|Years of service||1862–1866|
|Rank|| Brevet Major General
|Commands||20th Maine Infantry
3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps
1st Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps
1st Division, V Corps
|Battles/wars||American Civil War|
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (born Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain, September 8, 1828 – February 24, 1914) was an American college professor from the State of Maine, who volunteered during the American Civil War to join the Union Army. He became a highly respected and decorated Union officer, reaching the rank of brigadier general (and brevet major general). He is most well known for his gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg, which earned him the Medal of Honor.
Chamberlain was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1862 and fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg. He became commander of the regiment in June 1863. On July 2, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Chamberlain’s regiment occupied the extreme left of the Union lines at Little Round Top. Chamberlain’s men withheld repeated Confederate assaults and finally drove them away with a bayonet charge. He was severely wounded while commanding a brigade during the Second Battle of Petersburg in June 1864, and was given what was intended to be a death bed promotion to brigadier general. In April 1865, he fought at the Battle of Five Forks and was given the honor of commanding the Union troops at the surrender ceremony for the infantry of Robert E. Lee‘s Army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
After the war, he entered politics as a Republican and served four one-year terms of office as the 32ndGovernor of Maine. He served on the faculty, and as president, of his alma mater, Bowdoin College. He died in 1914 at age 85 due to complications from the wound that he received at Petersburg.
- 1Early life and education
- 2American Civil War
- 3Post-war service
- 4Later life
- 8Command history
- 9In popular culture
- 10See also
- 12Further reading
- 13External links
Early life and education
Chamberlain was born in Brewer, Maine, the son of Sarah Dupee (née Brastow) and Joshua Chamberlain on September 8, 1828. Chamberlain was of English ancestry, and could trace his family line back to twelfth century England, during the reign of King Stephen. He was the oldest of five children. It is said that he was his mother’s favorite while his father was tough on him. He was very involved in his church, mostly singing in the choir. His mother encouraged him to become a preacher while his father wanted him to join the military, but he felt a reluctance towards both options. He suffered a speech impediment until shortly after graduating from Bowdoin College. He entered Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1848 with the help of a local tutor, professor William Hyde. Chamberlain learned to read Ancient Greek and Latin in order to pass the entrance exam. While at Bowdoin he met many people who would influence his life, including Harriet Beecher Stowe, the wife of Bowdoin professor Calvin Stowe. Chamberlain would often go to listen to her read passages from what would later become her celebrated novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. He also joined the Peucinian Society, a group of students with Federalist leanings. A member of the Phi Beta Kappa academic honor society and a brother of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity, Chamberlain graduated in 1852.
He married Fanny Adams, cousin and adopted daughter of a local clergyman, in 1855, and they had five children, one of whom was born too prematurely to survive and two of whom died in infancy. Chamberlain studied for three additional years at Bangor Theological Seminary in Bangor, Maine, returned to Bowdoin, and began a career in education as a professor of rhetoric. He eventually went on to teach every subject in the curriculum with the exception of science and mathematics. In 1861 he was appointed Professor of Modern Languages. He was fluent in nine languages other than English: Greek, Latin, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac.
Chamberlain’s great-grandfathers were soldiers in the American Revolutionary War. One, Franklin Chamberlain, was a sergeant at the Siege of Yorktown. His grandfather, also named Joshua Chamberlain, was a colonel in the local militia during the War of 1812 and was court-martialed (but exonerated) for his part in the humiliating Battle of Hampden, which led to the sacking of Bangor and Brewer by British forces. His father also had served during the abortive Aroostook War of 1839.
American Civil War
At the beginning of the American Civil War, Chamberlain believed the Union needed to be supported by all those willing against the Confederacy. On several occasions, Chamberlain spoke freely of his beliefs during his class, urging students to follow their hearts in regards to the war while issuing his own proclamation that the cause was just. Of his desire to serve in the War, he wrote to Maine’s Governor Israel Washburn, Jr., “I fear, this war, so costly of blood and treasure, will not cease until men of the North are willing to leave good positions, and sacrifice the dearest personal interests, to rescue our country from desolation, and defend the national existence against treachery.” Many faculty at Bowdoin did not feel his enthusiasm for various reasons and Chamberlain was subsequently granted a leave of absence (supposedly to study languages for two years in Europe). He then promptly enlisted unbeknownst to those at Bowdoin and his family. Offered the colonelcy of the 20th Maine Regiment, he declined, according to his biographer, John J. Pullen, preferring to “start a little lower and learn the business first.”He was appointed lieutenant colonel of the regiment on August 8, 1862, under the command of Col. Adelbert Ames. The 20th was assigned to the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps in the Union Army of the Potomac. One of Chamberlain’s younger brothers, Thomas Chamberlain, was also an officer of the 20th Maine, and another, John Chamberlain, visited the regiment at Gettysburg as a member of the U.S. Christian Commission until appointed as a chaplain in another Maine Volunteer regiment. The 20th Maine fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg, suffering relatively small numbers of casualties in the assaults on Marye’s Heights, but were forced to spend a miserable night on the freezing battlefield among the many wounded from other regiments. Chamberlain chronicled this night well in his diary and went to great length discussing his having to use bodies of the fallen for shelter and a pillow while listening to the bullets zip into the corpses. The 20th missed the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 due to an outbreak of smallpox in their ranks (which was caused by an errant smallpox vaccine), which kept them on guard duty in the rear.Chamberlain was promoted to colonel of the regiment in Jun