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Joshua L. Chamberlain

Joshua L. Chamberlain

Federal (USA)

Lieutenant Colonel

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

(1828 - 1914)

Home State: Maine

Education: Bowdoin College, Bangor Theological Seminary, Class of 1852

Command Billet: Regiment Lt. Colonel

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 20th Maine Infantry

Before Antietam

In August 1862, Chamberlain entered the war as Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th Regiment of Maine Volunteers. Under commanding officer Colonel Adelbert Ames, a recent West Point graduate, Chamberlain learned by observation about soldiering and being in charge of a regiment.

On the Campaign

The 20th Maine's first order found them marching to the site of the battle at Antietam. But they would not engage in action until late September, in a reconnaissance at Shepherdstown Ford.

The rest of the War

He is best remembered for two great events: the action at Little Round Top, on the second day of Gettysburg (2 July 1863), when then-Colonel Chamberlain and the 20th Maine held the extreme left flank of the Union line against a fierce rebel attack, and the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox, when Grant chose Chamberlain to receive the formal surrender of weapons and colors (12 April 1865). Always a chivalrous man, Chamberlain had his men salute the defeated Confederates as they marched by, evidence of his admiration of their valor and of Grant's wish to encourage the rebel armies still in the field to accept the peace.

After the War

He returned briefly to his academic duties at Bowdoin, but was soon elected as a popular war hero to four terms as governor of Maine -- helping establish a century of domination of Maine politics by the Republican Party.

Former Governor Chamberlain returned to Bowdoin - in 1871, he accepted the presidency of the college. Throughout the 1870s and 1880s, he continued to write, teach, lecture, and participate actively in the G.A.R. and other veterans' groups. He represented the United States at the Paris Exposition of 1878. In 1883 ill health led to his resignation as Bowdoin's president.

In 1893 he was given the Medal of Honor for gallantry at Gettysburg.

Chamberlain spent much of the final three decades of his life in business ventures, including speculation in Florida real estate, and in writing accounts of his battles. In 1900 Chamberlain was appointed Surveyor of the Port of Portland, where he lived until his death in 1914 at age 85.

More on the Web

See a fine Essay about Chamberlain, for starters (some text from that used above) and some materials at the Chamberlain Museum.


9/8/1828; Brewer, ME


2/24/1914 Portland, ME; burial in Pine Grove Cemetery, Brunswick, ME