Joshua Chamberlain
(1828 - 1914)
Ask just about anyone to name a famous Maine Civil War hero and they will mention Joshua Chamberlain. A native of Brewer, Maine, Chamberlain has been immortalized in history and film for his military leadership at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. Like most college-educated Mainers of his time, Chamberlain graduated from Bowdoin College in 1852; the same year Harriet Beecher Stowe published Uncle Tom's Cabin. Chamberlain taught religion, rhetoric, and languages at Bowdoin after his graduation, until he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He began his military career as Lieutenant Colonel of the Twentieth Maine Regiment, and soon rose to Colonel, General, Brigadier- General, and Breveted Major General of Volunteers. Chamberlain was wounded six times in war, and received a Congressional Medal of Honor for his service at Little Round Top. It was there that, despite a shortage of ammunition and men, Chamberlain and the Twentieth Maine held the Union line, charging the attacking Confederate soldiers with bayonets attached to their rifles. When the war ended, Chamberlain and his troops were chosen to receive the surrender of the Confederate Army. After the war, Chamberlain was elected Governor of Maine and served as governor for four consecutive terms. He later returned to Bowdoin as president and professor. Chamberlain died in 1914.

Source: Dictionary of American Biography, Vol. III. Ed. Allen Johnson. New York: Charles Scribners' Sons. 1929. Image courtesy Maine Historical Society.

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