The Grand Old Man of Maine: Selected Letters of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, 1865-1914

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University of North Carolina Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 335 pages
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Best known as the hero of Little Round Top at Gettysburg and the commanding officer of the troops who accepted the Confederates' surrender at Appomattox, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914) has become one of the most famous and most studied figures of Civil War history. After the war, he went on to serve as governor of Maine and president of Bowdoin College. The first collection of his postwar letters, this book offers important insights for understanding Chamberlain's later years and his place in chronicling the war.

The letters included here reveal Chamberlain's perspective on military events at Gettysburg, Five Forks, and Appomattox, and on the planning of ceremonies to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Gettysburg. As Jeremiah Goulka points out in his introduction, the letters also shed light on Chamberlain's views on politics, race relations, and education, and they expose some of the personal difficulties he faced late in life. On a broader scale, Chamberlain's correspondence contributes to a better understanding of the influence of Civil War veterans on American life and the impact of the war on veterans themselves. It also says much about state and national politics (including the politics of pensions), family roles and relationships, and ideas of masculinity in Victorian America.

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About the author (2004)

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914) was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions at the battle of Gettysburg, where he commanded the 20th Maine. A professor at Bowdoin College, Chamberlain volunteered for service in the Union army in 1862 but declined the colonelcy of a regiment, "preferring to start a little lower and learn the business first." Chamberlain also took part in many other important battles, including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Petersburg, during which he received his fourth serious wound of the war. He later took part in the Appomattox Campaign, and commanded the troops that formally accepted the surrender of the Confederate army. Following his military service, he served as governor of Maine and president of Bowdoin College.

Jeremiah Goulka is a constitutional lawyer in Washington, D.C.

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