Brigadier General Joshua
Commander 1st Brigade, 1st Division
Colonel Chamberlain commanded the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment that defended Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. They were responsible for holding the extreme left flank of the Army of the Potomac. On July 2, 1863, they repulsed six assaults by a Confederate brigade. Then they counterattacked with a bayonet charge when their ammunition ran low. Their unconventional swinging gate maneuver drove off the Confederate brigade and captured four hundred prisoners. Thirty years later, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain received the Congressional Medal of Honor for this action.
Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain was born on September 8, 1828 in Brewer, Maine. In later life, he used his middle name of Joshua as his first name. He was admitted to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine in 1848 and graduated in 1852. He attended Bangor Theological Seminary and received a master's degree in 1855. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain married Frances Caroline Adams after graduation. In 1856, he was elected professor of rhetoric and oratory at Bowdoin College. He was fluent in nine languages and was later elected chair of modern languages. He took a sabbatical and joined the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment as a lieutenant colonel on August 8, 1862.
The 20th Maine Infantry Regiment fought in the Battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, and Bethesda Church near Cold Harbor. Colonel Chamberlain was placed in command of the 1st Brigade of the new 1st Division. He was seriously wounded at the Battle of Petersburg on June 18, 1864. General Ulysses S. Grant gave him an unusual battlefield promotion to brigadier general before he was removed to the Naval Hospital at Annapolis, Maryland. Thomas Chamberlain, his younger brother, persuaded surgeons to repair General Chamberlain's shattered pelvis and bladder despite the likelihood that he would die. He survived and sufficiently recovered to return to his command. At the Battle of Five Forks, his unit captured more than one thousand Confederate soldiers. General Chamberlain's troops were honored at Appomattox by being chosen to receive the formal surrender of the Confederate troops.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain served as governor of Maine from 1866 until 1870. He was the President of Bowdoin College from 1870 until 1883. He died on February 24, 1914 in Portland, Maine.
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