Document C: Letter from Joshua L. Chamberlain to Governor
[Israel] Washburn, Brunswick, July 14, 1862.
DocumentD: Quotes from the website: “To the limits of the Soul’s Ideal: Why people Admire Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.” http://www.joshua.lurker00.com/jlcadmirers.htm
DocumentA(Political): Report of Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain, Twentieth
Maine Infantry. Gettysburg Campaign. July 6, 1863.
FIELD NEAR EMMITSBURG, July 6, 1863.
Lieut. GEORGE B. HERENDEEN,
A. A. A. G., Third Brig., First Div., Fifth Army Corps.
SIR: Based on request of the colonel commanding the brigade, I have the honor to submit a somewhat detailed report of the operations (acts) of the Twentieth Regiment Maine Volunteers in the battle of Gettysburg, on the 2d and 3d instant (July 2ndand July 3rd, 1863)…
The enemy's artillery got range of our column as we were climbing the spur, and the crashing of the shells among the rocks and the tree tops made us move lively along the crest. One or two shells burst in our ranks. Passing to the southern slope of Little Round Top, Colonel Vincent indicated (showed) to me the ground my regiment was to occupy, informing me that this … a desperate attack was expected in order to turn that position, concluding by telling me I was to" hold that ground at all hazards." This was the last word I heard from him….
The enemy (CSA) seemed to have gathered all their energies for their final assault. We had gotten our thin line into as good a shape as possible, when a strong force emerged from the scrub wood in the valley, as well as I could judge, in two lines in echelon by the right, and, opening a heavy fire, the first line came on as if they meant to sweep everything before them. We opened on them (shot at them) as well as we could with our scanty ammunition snatched from the field.
It did not seem possible to withstand another shock like this now coming on. Our loss had been severe. One-half of my left wing had fallen, and a third of my regiment lay just behind us, dead or badly wounded…The bullets from this attack struck into my left rear, and I feared that the enemy might have nearly surrounded the Little Round Top, and only a desperate chance was left for us. My ammunition was soon exhausted (we were out of bullets). My men were firing their last shot and getting ready to "club" their muskets (use their guns as clubs).
It was imperative to strike before we were struck by this overwhelming force in a hand-to-hand fight, which we could not probably have withstood or survived. At that crisis, I ordered the bayonet. The word was enough. It ran like fire along the line, from man to man, and rose into a shout, with which they sprang forward upon the enemy, now not 30 yards away. The effect was surprising; many of the
enemy's first line threw down their arms and surrendered. An officer fired his pistol at my head with one hand, while he handed me his sword with the other. Holding fast by our right, and swinging forward our left, we made an extended "right wheel," before which the enemy's second line broke and fell back,
fighting from tree to tree, many being captured, until we had swept the valley and cleared the front of nearly our entire brigade.
Having thus cleared the valley and driven the enemy up the western slope of the Great Round Top, not wishing to press so far out as to hazard the ground I was to hold by leaving it exposed to a sudden rush of the enemy, I succeeded (although with some effort to stop my men, who declared they were "on the road to Richmond") in getting the regiment into good order and resuming our original position.
Four hundred prisoners, including two field and several line officers, were sent to the rear. These were mainly from the Fifteenth and Forty-seventh Alabama Regiments, with some of the Fourth and Fifth Texas. One hundred and fifty of the enemy were found killed and wounded in our front.
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant, JOSHUA L. CHAMBERLAIN, Colonel, Commanding Twentieth Maine Volunteers.
DocumentB(Political): Quotes from the website: “To the limits of the Soul’s
Ideal: Why people Admire Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.”
Document C(Social): Letter from Joshua L. Chamberlain to Governor [Israel] Washburn, Brunswick, July 14, 1862.
TEXTBackground: As news of battles fought at distant places like Bull Run and Shiloh slowly came back to the state of Maine, Chamberlain grew more interested in the conflict. Chamberlain realized that his true patriotic calling required him to offer his services to the Governor Washburn, Maine and the Union. His family had a military background with the exceptional service of his grandfather in the War of 1812. He thought that if he combined this natural military ability with his education and intelligence, he could become a very good military leader. Chamberlain also had great confidence in his ability to bring in men from the Bowdoin College to be part of a regiment. In July of 1862, Chamberlain sent this letter to
Governor Washburn offering his services to the state.
Brunswick July 14 1862.
To His Excellency Governor Washburn
Because of the need of reinforcements for the war, I ask if your Excellency desires and will accept my service.
Perhaps it is not quite necessary to inform your Excellency who I am. I believe you will be satisfied with my experiences. I am a son of Joshua Chamberlain of Brewer. For the past seven years I have been Professor (teacher) in Bowdoin College. I have always been interested in military matters, and what I do not know about the military I can learn.
My job requires that I am to spend a year or more in Europe, however, I will not leave if my Country needs my service.
You are in charge of the Educational as well as the military affairs of our State, and, I am well aware, supports Learning. You will therefore be able to decide where I am the most needed.
But, I fear, this war, so costly of blood and treasure (money), will not cease until the men of the North are willing to leave good positions (jobs), and sacrifice the dearest personal interests (everything they want), to rescue our Country from Desolation (Unhappiness), and defend the it against treachery (secession/ being a trader) at home and jeopardy (danger) abroad. This war must be ended, with a swift and strong hand; and every man ought to come forward and ask to serve where he fits in best.
Nearly a hundred of my students, are now officers in our army; but there are many more all over our
State, who, I believe, will serve in the Army if I ask…
but I believe this to be my duty, and I know I can be of service to my Country in this time of danger.
I shall agree with your decision Governor, whether I can best serve you here or in the Army. I believe you will find me qualified for the army, and I trust I may have the honor to hear a word from you, and I remain,