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Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain


U.S. Army
Medal Of Honor, Civil War

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Colonel Joshua Chamberlain was one of 63 men who was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism in the battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1 - 3, 1863, after already having served through several campaigns. On the second day of the Gettysburg battle, Colonel Chamberlains 358 men of the 20th Maine were alighted to the left of the Union line defending Little Round Top. The small unit protected the entire left flank of the Army of the Potomac. Late in the afternoon they withstood repeated assaults by the 15th and 47th Alabama, their line stretching further along the ridge and their numbers depleted by combat casualties. At about 6:30 that evening Oates' rebel forces launched a final attack which, if successful, would have given the Confederates control of the high ground from which to attack the Union Army. Low on ammunition and realizing his men could not defend against this final assault, Colonel Chamberlain did the unthinkable, ordering his men to "fix bayonets" and charge into the advancing enemy. The daring charge by the 20th Maine caught the attacking rebels by surprise, causing many to drop their guns and surrender. The others were successfully repulsed.


Joshua Chamberlain joined the Maine National Guard after earning the Medal of Honor on active duty. He also served as the Governor of the State of Maine from 1867 to 1870.

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