Maine: An Encyclopedia
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Gettysburg

Col. Joshua Chamberlain

Col. Joshua Chamberlain

Maine’s 20th Regiment, led by Joshua L. Chamberlain and assisted by his second in command Ellis Spear, played a major role in the victory of the Union forces on July 3, 1863 at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This farming town with a wooded ridge was the scene of a pivotal battle of the American Civil War.

The brief version of that battle is as follows:

Then a Colonel, Chamberlain stressed to his men, stationed on Little Round Top, that their role was crucial in preventing the Confederate forces from sweeping around the Union defenses by seizing Little Round Top and gaining the high ground on the battlefield.

20th Maine at the Top

20th Maine at the Top

Painting of the Little Round Top Battle

Painting of the Little Round Top Battle


Informative Guides at Gettysburg

On that July day, the 20th Maine Regiment, which he commanded, was struck by several waves of attack by the enemy.  Ammunition was running low so he encouraged his men to be conservative in their firing, waiting until the last moment to shoot.

Finally the 20th was virtually out of ammunition.  Instead of waiting for the final enemy attack, he rallied his men, having them fix bayonets.  The regiment then charged down Round Top, yelling and firing the few remaining rounds.  Bewildered and exhausted Confederates were so surprised that they either ran or surrendered, securing the Union position and making Chamberlain a hero of the battle.

Sarah Sampson of Bath tended to the wounded during the Civil War, including spending four weeks at Gettysburg and reporting on the difficult conditions in a letter to Governor Abner Coburn.

Photos courtesy of Rebecca Williams

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This entry was last modified: August 02, 2013 10:28 PM

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