Joshua Chamberlain, who commanded the 20th Maine at Gettysburg and saved the day for the Union army on day two of the fighting, was born on this day (February 24, 1828).
Chamberlain, who unlike most generals on both the North and the South, did not attend West Point, was extremely well respected by his colleagues. At the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Courthouse, VA, it was Chamberlain who was presented with Lee’s sword.
General Chamberlain had been a teacher at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. When told that the school might not survive if he went off to war, Chamberlain commented that the country might now survived if men didn't enlist to try to save the Union.
At the Battle of Gettysburg, his men were actually put at the end of the line and supposedly out of harm’s way, because of his lack of tactical experience. Ironically, the Confederates charged the end of the line being defended by the 20th Maine. General Chamberlain led the stellar defense of that line at Little Roundtop.
Chamberlain was wounded four different times during the fighting. By war’s end he attained the rank of Major General. For his bravery at Gettysburg, he was awarded the Medal of Honor winner.
He returned to Maine after the war and became Governor and President of Bowdoin College.
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