Monday, February 24, 2014

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin 100 Years -- February 24, 2014

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin of Maine died only 100 years ago.  He took a leave of absence from his position as a professor at Bowdoin College to volunteer for the Union Army.  He served well, rising to the rank of Brigadier General, with a brevet to Major General.  He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his leadership of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top during the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Chamberlin was wounded six times during the war. 

When the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomatox Courthouse, Chamberlin led the Union Troops as the defeated Confederates passed in review.  Chamberlin ordered his men to stand at attention and carry arms (a form of salute) as a sign of respect. 

After the war, Chamberlin served as Republican Governor of Maine.  After he left office, Chamberlin returned to Bowdoin College and taught until the effects of his wounds forced him to resign.  He volunteered to serve in the Spanish-American War but was turned down because of his health.  When he died in 1914, he was considered to be the last veteran of the US Civil War to die of his wounds. 

A lot of people became aware of Chamberlin when he was prominently featured in Ken Burns' 1990 series The Civil War

Chamberlin's Medal of Honor citation:
"The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 2 July 1863, while serving with 20th Maine Infantry, in action at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on the Great Round Top."

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