Introduction - General Chamberlain
In July of 1863, on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, the Union Army rushed into defensive positions south of the town of Gettysburg. At the extreme left of their line, with the responsibility of protecting the Union's left flank, they placed General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain who was in command of the 20th Maine regiment. At the end of the day there was no doubt they had placed the right man in the right place at the right time. Chamberlain and his men would hold their crucial defensive position fighting off numerous Confederate attacks; saving the battle, and perhaps the war for the Union forces.
On this page you will find lists of interesting facts about General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain written so that both adults and kids will understand why he is considered one of the greatest Generals of the American Civil War. You will see in this short biography how he evolved from a college professor with no military background to a famous general.
Basic Facts about General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
- He was born in 1828 in Brewer, Maine.
- He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1852.
- In 1855 he married Fanny Adams; they had five children together.
- In 1855 he accepted a position as a professor of languages and rhetoric at Bowdoin College.
- When the American Civil War began Chamberlain volunteered for service and was appointed Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th Maine regiment; second-in-command to Colonel Adelbert Ames.
- Chamberlain's discipline and intelligence enabled him to learn the intricacies of being a military commander as he learned from his superior, Colonel Ames, and studied books on military tactics.
- His first taste of battle was a hard one as he participated in the Unions failed attack on Marye's Heights at the Battle of Fredericksburg. He escaped without injury but witnessed the slaughter of thousands of Union soldiers.
- This great general was wounded six times in battle. At Petersburg in June of 1864 he received his worst wound; a gunshot that doctors believed to be mortal. Believing he was dyeing and to honor him the U.S. Congress promoted him to Brigadier General. Showing the determination he had shown throughout his life he survived the wound and would return to the battlefield to play an important role in ending the war.
- On April 12, 1865 at Appomattox Court House in Virginia Confederate General Lee surrendered to Union General Grant to effectively end the American Civil War. Chamberlain was given the honor of receiving the Confederate surrender of arms. Having no grudge against the Confederate soldiers, who he believed were misled into the war, he ordered the Union soldiers to salute them.
- In 1893 he was awarded the Medal of Honor by the United States Congress for his bravery at the Battle of Gettysburg.
- After the Civil War ended he returned home to Maine where he was elected Governor; he would serve four terms.
- Later in his life he would become president of Bowdoin College from which he had graduated.
- He died on February 24, 1914. His death was partially due to medical complications from his Civil War wounds. An interesting fact is that this makes this great soldier the last Civil War soldier to die from a battlefield wound.
General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain at Gettysburg Facts
- Upon the promotion of Cornel Ames to brigade commander Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was left in charge of the 20th Maine Regiment; as fate would have it this occurred in June of 1863 right before the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg.
- On July 2nd of 1863, on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Chamberlain and his 20th Maine Regiment were rushed to defend the left flank of the Union line on a hill called Little Round Top.
- Confederate General John B Hood's troops attacked Chamberlain's position numerous times but the Maine Regiment stood their ground.
- Running out of ammunition and probably not able to withstand another Confederate attack Chamberlain came up with a surprising solution. The 20th Maine left their defensive position and attacked the Confederates. This move completely surprised the enemy many of who were captured. This move secured the Union left flank and enabled the Union Army to go on to win the battle the next day.