Daniel Morgan: General From The Shenandoah

Last week of September and the last post on the American War for Independence, at least for now. Alright, news release before the main feature post: we have a story contest here at Gazette665! Check it out and join the fun. And now, moving on to our patriot commander for this week:

General Daniel Morgan

General Daniel Morgan (Image in Public Domain)

General Daniel Morgan
(Image in Public Domain)

1. Colonial Life

Born on July 6, 1736, Daniel Morgan was the son of Welsh immigrants, living in the colony of New Jersey. There must have been a rebellious temper in the lad because at age 17 he ran away from home after a fight with his father. The teen worked in Pennsylvania for a time and then wandered south to Virginia, eventually settling in the Shenandoah Valley, near the future location of Winchester. (At this time, the western valleys of Virginia were still considered “the frontier.”) Here, Morgan worked hard and in a year he’d saved enough money to buy a team of horses.

For some men the French and Indian War (1754-1763) was training for their military role in the American War for Independence, but not for Daniel Morgan. Taking his new team of horses, he joined as a civilian teamster and drove baggage wagons for the British/Colonial forces. (During the American War for Independence, Morgan’s troops would affectionately call him “the Old Wagoneer”). However, he did develop a bitter hatred for the British; he hit a superior officer and was sentenced to a severe whipping as consequence.

After the war, Morgan married Abigail Curry; they would have two daughters. The family lived on a prosperous farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Morgan volunteered as a rifleman and helped defend the western borders of Virginia from Native American raids; in 1774 he fought in Dunmore’s war against the Shawnee tribes in the Ohio valley.

2. American War for Independence

After the battles of Lexington and Concord (1775) started the conflict, southern colonies sent militia companies help with the siege of Boston. The Virginia government appointed Daniel Morgan to lead a company from the Shenandoah Valley. “Morgan’s Riflemen” would gain a reputation for accurate sharpshooting. The company arrived near Boston on August 6, 1775, after completing a 600 mile march in 21 days (that’s averaging 28.5 miles a day).

Morgan participated in an invasion of British-held Canada. At the Battle of Quebec on December 31, 1775, Morgan was forced to surrender and was a prisoner of war until January 1777.

Rejoining General Washington’s army, Morgan discovered that he’d been promoted to colonel, and he organized the 11th Virginia Regiment. He was also the commander of the Provisional Rifle Corps, a special unit of marksmen organized to harass the British with guerilla-like tactics.

Joining General Horatio Gate’s force near Saratoga, Morgan participated in the Freedman’s Farm and Bemis Heights conflicts. At Bemis Heights the riflemen’s sniping helped turn the tide in the American’s favor.

In 1778 Morgan lead his command (reorganized as the 7th Virginia Regiment) in various raids on British supply lines. Although a successful commander, Morgan was overlooked by Congress for promotion, even though he had temporarily commanded a brigade. Frustrated and suffering from poor health, he resigned in 1779 and returned to his home near Winchester.

By 1780, with American military disasters increasing in the Carolinas, Morgan agreed to fight in that region. He was given a corps of infantry and a promotion to brigadier general. His commander, Nathanael Greene, split the American forces, ordering Morgan to harass the British in the South Carolina backwoods. Morgan was strictly ordered to avoid a confrontational battle.

Then there was British Colonel Tarleton. This fierce, ruthless dragoon commander was sent by General Cornwallis to track down and destroy Morgan’s army. Knowing that Tarleton made hasty decisions and despised colonial militia, Morgan decided to disobey Greene’s orders and planned a battle strategy. Using his Virginia riflemen along with the militia, Morgan positioned them in front with clear directions to withdraw after inflicting initial losses on the British force. Tarleton took the bait…and charged toward the fleeing militia, not even noticing the soldiers waiting in reserve. A point-blank range volley stopped the British attack. The Battle of Cowpens (January 17, 1781) was an American victory.

In February severe back pain forced General Morgan to return home. Later in the year he returned to fight Tarleton, who had invaded Virginia, but this time he was not as successful. The following year (1782) he formally resigned his commission.

3. Post-War Life

Morgan invested in large tracts of land around Winchester and Charlestown, Virginia, eventually owning 250,000 acres. After returning from war in 1782, he built a new home – called “Saratoga” near Winchester. Two years later Congress sent him a gold medal in honor of his decisive victory at Cowpens.

As squabbles rocked the new nation, Morgan led part of the militia army which suppressed the Whiskey Rebellion. He served in Congress’s House of Representatives from 1797-1799, aligning with the Federalist political party.

Daniel Morgan died on July 6, 1802, at age 66. He was buried in the graveyard of the Presbyterian Church that he attended. However, about sixty years later, with the American Civil War raging, his body was reburied in South Carolina because local citizens were afraid that Yankee soldiers would steal his body or desecrate his grave. After the war ended, Morgan was buried in Mount Hebron Cemetery, Winchester, Virginia.

Daniel Morgan is one of the American commanders who did not receive rapid promotion, but who diligently worked to succeed at wherever he was placed. “Morgan’s Riflemen” were feared by the enemy for their accurate aim and new tactics. Morgan’s greatest war-time achievement was the Battle of Cowpens, which turned the Carolinas war-tide in the American’s favor. Devising a daring strategy, Morgan won a morale-raising victory for the American cause, proving that Tarleton’s dragoons and British infantry were not invincible. Without the victory at Cowpens, would the war in the Carolinas have turned in the Americans’ favor? There’s a lot of “what-ifs” in this situation, but, in conclusion, Daniel Morgan’s success was the launch point of American campaigns which concluded with the victory at Yorktown in 1783.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Who was your favorite commander in this series? Greene, Lincoln, or Morgan? (Share your thoughts in a comment…) I have a hard time choosing because their characters and lives were very different. However, I really enjoyed writing about Morgan, since he was a Winchester, Virginia “pioneer” and hero. (In case you didn’t know, my Civil War living history scenario uses the setting of Winchester.)

P.S.S. If you’ve watched a certain American War for Independence movie, you may notice the similarities to its final battle and the history of Cowpens. It seems the screenwriters “borrowed” Morgan’s battle strategy, Tarleton’s terrifying dragoons, and a combination of Daniel Morgan and Francis Marion to build the plot of the movie.



Benjamin Lincoln: Trustworthy Patriot

Once upon a time (in 1781) a proud British general (Cornwallis) had to surrender. He was so upset that he refused to go to the ceremony and a subordinate handed over his sword for him. The American general (Washington) refused to take the sword and called for a loyal officer to accept the surrender. There was much irony in the situation, considering this other officer had been forced to surrender without honor and ceremony months before; now he was accepting the surrender of his enemies…

The officer who accepted General Cornwallis’s sword was American general, Benjamin Lincoln.

General Benjamin Lincoln (From Wikipedia, Public Domain

General Benjamin Lincoln
(From Wikipedia, Public Domain)

Who was Benjamin Lincoln? Here are some “fast facts” about this American commander:

Early Life

  • Born on January 24, 1733, and grew up in the colony of Massachusetts
  • Was a leader in local politics (constable, town clerk, town selectman, representative in the provincial assembly)
  • Started as a volunteer in the local militia and by 1772 was the lieutenant colonel of the 3rd Regiment of Suffolk militia
  • 1756: married Mary Cushing; they would have 11 children.
  • Urged his neighbors to resist British taxation and to refuse to import foreign goods
  • In 1774 as the rumblings of political reformation began, Lincoln was a member of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress and was on the committee to oversee militia organization and supply system

American War for Independence

  • After the war started in 1775, he collected supplies for the patriot army near Boston – food, blankets, gunpowder, etc. were in high demand
  • In 1776 Benjamin Lincoln was promoted to major general of the Massachusetts militia; he worked on the coastal defenses, and forced the last British ships to leave Boston Harbor as the English evacuated the city.
  • Although he had experience in militia command, the Continental Congress was reluctant to give Lincoln a commission in their army because he lacked battlefield experience.
  • September 1776: Lincoln lead a brigade of militia and joined General Washington’s army in New York.
  • In February 1777 the Continental Congress sent Benjamin Lincoln a major general’s commission – unfortunately he was defeated in a surprise attack two months later at the Battle of Bound Brook.
  • During the military movements around Saratoga in the summer and autumn of 1777, Lincoln and his troops played an important (but often overlooked role) in leading to the capture of the post and surrender of British General John Burgoyne.
  • Victories come with a cost – Benjamin Lincoln was wounded and sent home.  He worried that the army didn’t need or want him anymore, but General Washington reassured him.
  • By August 1778 Lincoln was back with the armies and was sent to the Southern theater of fighting (see N. Greene’s biography for more details).  Lincoln participated in the attempted siege of Savannah, Georgia and then retreated to Charleston, South Carolina.
  • In May 1780 Lincoln was forced to surrender Charleston and 5,000 troops to General Clinton after a three month siege. He was denied the honors of surrendering formally.  Lincoln was eventually paroled and exchanged; no charges of disloyalty, mismanagement or neglect were ever brought against Lincoln in a court of inquiry.
  • General Washington trusted Lincoln.  In the campaign and siege of Yorktown, Lincoln’s troops played a large role.
  • On October 19, 1781, the British under General Cornwallis surrendered after the siege of Yorktown.  General Cornwallis – deeply humiliated – refused to attend the surrender ceremony and sent General O’Hara with the commander’s sword.  General Washington summoned Lincoln to take the sword. Thus the general who was denied the honor of a proper surrender was the one the British commanders technically surrendered to.  (There is some debate among historians: did Lincoln actually take the sword or did he hold it and then return it to O’Hara?).

Post War

  • While America was governed by the Articles of Confederation, Lincoln served as Secretary of War from 1781-1783.
  • In 1787 Lincoln led the ratification of the US Constitution in his home-state (Massachusetts).  He understood the importance of national unity since he had been one of the military commanders to end Shays’s Rebellion earlier in the year.
  • He did receive electoral votes for president in the first election.
  • Served as Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts and Collector of Port of Boston.
  • Died on May 9, 1810

Benjamin Lincoln is one the early American military commanders often neglected in the history books. He didn’t have the slyness of Francis Marion, the victories of George Washington, or the scandals of Benedict Arnold. Yet Lincoln was a steady and reliable commander.  He took part in military campaigns that led to the surrenders to two large British armies (Saratoga and Yorktown).

However, I think the best testimony of his loyal character is found in the aftermath of Charleston. Forced to surrender, he returned to Washington’s Army, likely feeling worried, ashamed, and unsure what would happen. And he’s welcomed back with no formal questions or court marshals. Other generals in the same war surrendered (or were defeated) and faced disgrace: not Lincoln. It seems that his peers understood the desperate situation in Charleston and that he would not have surrendered unless there was no other option. His loyalty was never questioned.  This shows the true patriot.

Thus, although Benjamin Lincoln faced great difficulties and even defeat and surrender, his trustworthiness and dependability were well-known and he continued as a leader through the rest of the war and the in government formations years of America.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Look for some new features and changes to Gazette655 in the next couple of weeks.  And, as always, leave your questions or comments about this post!

Washington’s General: Nathanael Greene

Well, the votes have been cast…we’ll be doing brief biographies of military leaders from the American War of Independence for the rest of this month. Sorry to disappoint anyone, but George Washington is not on the list.  It’s time to dig deeper into the history books and find some of those “forgotten” leaders.

Meet our military leader for the week: General Nathanael Greene. (No, I didn’t misspell his name…) When the war started, he was a militia private…when the war ended, he was one of General Washington’s most trusted commanders.

Portrait of Nathanael Greene. (Wikicommon, public domain)

Portrait of Nathanael Greene. (Wikicommon, public domain)

1. Pre-War Life  Born on August 7, 1742, Nathanael was the son of a Rhode Island Quaker.  As a lad, he self-educated himself and helped with the family’s business; at age 28 he was overseeing the foundry shop.  It is believed that Greene served in the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1770, 1771, 1772, and 1775, but it’s possibly that it could have been another Mr. N. Greene.  In 1774 he married Catharine Littlefield; they would have 6 children. As a conflict with Britain simmered as the taxes increased and foreign trade was limited, Nathanael helped to organize a local militia unit and studied military books. The peaceful Quaker community was shocked that one of their members would study war and expelled him from their church.

2. 13 Battles in 8 Years  In 1775 after the British vs. American conflict began, Nathanael Greene was promoted from militia private to major general of the Rhode Island Army.  Local authorities were aware of his leadership and military knowledge.  Of greater importance was his promotion to brigadier general of the American Continental Army on June 22, 1775. The following year, General Washington sent General Greene to control the city of Boston after the British evacuated. In his letters, Greene expressed support for a declaration of independence which would separate the Colonies from England and make them a new nation. Greene fought with General Washington’s army in the New York campaigns of 1776, and the Philadelphia campaign of 1777-1778 (includes Valley Forge winter). As commander of the West Point (a fort, not a military school in those days), he presided over the court which condemned Major John Andre, who had been an accomplice in Benedict Arnold’s traitorous plots.

The most important part of General Greene’s military service was when he was sent to the Carolinas in 1780. The war in the Carolinas was a mess – literally; before Greene, every American commander sent there had managed to lose an important city or suffered a crushing battlefield defeat. The situation didn’t make it any better: guerilla warfare was common and some of the cruelest British officers operated in this area (anyone know about General Tarleton?). When General Washington was asked to appoint a new commander for the Southern region, he chose Nathanael Greene; in this new position Greene was basically second in command of all Continental forces. Greene divided his southern army and started on a “strategic retreat” – along the way the Battles of King’s Mountain and Cowpens were American victories. With an army of about 2,000 men, Greene managed to cross the Dan River into Virginia, but a week later he returned to North Carolina. A series of battles, skirmishes, and maneuvers eventually forced the British to return to the coast, concluding with a siege of British-held Charleston. General Greene had forced the British to retreat and give up most of the Carolinas.

3. Post War Life Nathanael Greene was given land grants in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Some of the property he sold to pay for the rations his army had needed. He was offered the Secretary of War office, but refused. In 1785 Greene moved his family to Georgia. He died a year later from the effects of sunstroke.

What made Nathanael Greene an outstanding leader?

1. He was dedicated to the American cause. “I am determined to defend my rights and maintain my freedom or sell my life in the attempt.” (Greene was 1 of 3 generals to serve the entire 8 years of war.)

2. He was prepared. “Learning is not virtue but the mean to bring us an acquaintance with it. Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” (Studying the military tactics and history in the years before the conflict gave him a strong knowledge base.)

3. He believed that America should be an independent nation and never gave up that vision. “We fight, get beaten, rise, and fight again.”  “I hope this is the dark part of the night which is generally just before day.”

In summary Nathanael Greene prepared to serve his country, became one of General Washington’s most skilled commanders, and successfully regained American control of the Carolinas region.

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. I know this was an overview, so if you have questions or something is un-clear, leave a comment.  (It was very difficult to not write a couple thousand word article here, but I’m trying to keep my promise on “short biographies.)



Chamberlain’s “Relaxing” Post-War Life

After the American Civil War concluded, General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain returned to his family and home in Maine.  What would he accomplish next – or was it time to sit down and relax?

(If you’ve missed the first and second parts of the Chamberlain biography, I hope you’ll read them.  Next week will be the final Chamberlain post with a true story about leadership).

Relax?  What does that mean?  (I don’t think it was in General Chamberlain’s vocabulary…)  Chamberlain arrived home in the summer of 1865.  Physically battered by numerous wounds, Chamberlain tried to rest and reconnect with his family, but it wasn’t long before he found new positions of leadership and service.

1. Professor (Again)  Chamberlain taught oratory and rhetoric for the 1865-1866 school year at Bowdoin College.  He received several academic honors, but…  Teaching was boring compared to battlefields and the former general started looking something more challenging.

2. Governor of Maine (1867-1871)  Challenging, difficulty, and rewarding are three different ways of describing Chamberlain’s four terms in office.  (Each term was one year, so he was governor for a total of four years, 1867-1871).  As governor, he worked to improve education advancements, economic and transportation opportunities, the criminal justice system, the asylum hospitals, and encouraged European immigration to the state.  He opposed the impeachment charges against President Andrew Johnson and argued that the Maine temperance laws interfered with citizens’ Federal constitutional rights.  Overall, Chamberlain’s method of politics was innovative and for the good of the citizens and state.

Governor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Governor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

3. President of Bowdoin College (1817-1883) In 1871 Chamberlain accepted the position of college president and started a series of educational reforms within the school.  He introduced the idea of treating students like adults (not children, needing  constant control and oversight), expanded the school curriculum to include subjects useful outside of the academic realm, developed the college’s Master of Arts program, and instituted military drill as required training.  Not all the changes were well-received; many students hated the military drill exercises and it was eventually abandoned.  Chamberlain resigned in 1883 because of poor health, but he had brought Bowdoin College into the modern age of education.

4. Public Speaker  Starting in 1867 and continuing to the last years of his life, Chamberlain spoke at many public events.  The events were often patriotic and some of his most often quoted addresses are Dedication of the 20th Maine Monuments at Gettysburg (October 3, 1889), Address to the Veterans of the 16th Maine Volunteers, and Oration on the 100th Anniversary of the Birth of Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1909).

5. Peace Keeper January 5-17, 1880, was a time of intense political tension in the state of Maine.  Political factions produced division and nearly a statewide civil war.  Chamberlain and the militia, at the government’s request, stepped in and defended the standing governor.  Chamberlain was able to convince the mobs to avoid violence.  However, “The Twelve Days” (as this incident is commonly called) exposed Chamberlain to dislike on many political fronts.

6. World Traveler Sent to the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1878 as a representative of the United States, this trip started Chamberlain’s interest in world-wide travels.  (On the 1878 Paris trip, his family went with him).  During the winter of 1900-1901, he traveled to the Mediterranean region, and particularly enjoyed Italy and Egypt.

7. Businessman  With political opportunities closed by the controversial “Twelve Days”, Chamberlain investigated a new venture: business.  Organized in 1885 Homosassa Company (a land development organization) was Chamberlain’s new project in the state of Florida.  In 1891 he helped to found the Ocala and Silver Springs Railroad which hopefully would bring people to the coastal community.  These businesses were not very successful.  During the 1890’s Chamberlain was the president of other executive companies – railroad, construction, power, banking, tourism, real estate, and bonds.  These companies wanted a well-known “war hero” to be leader and spokesperson for their corporations.

8. President (Again)  In the 1890’s Chamberlain promoted the Institute for Artists and Artisans, which was one of the best art schools in America.  As president of the institute, he encouraged education and art, which would increase the culture of America.

9. Requested Army Commission  When the Spanish-American War started in 1898, Chamberlain requested a field commission in the US Army.  The 70 year old patriot was politely rejected.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in US uniform (Probably during the early 1900's)

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in US uniform (Probably during the early 1900’s)

10. Surveyor of the Port of Portland, Maine On March 20, 1900, US President McKinley appointed Chamberlain to this position.  The job included inspecting and handling anchorage, mooring, and docks for the ships of the harbor and had an annual salary of $4,500.00.  He would keep this position until his death.

11. Family Man It would be wrong to conclude this biography without acknowledging Chamberlain’s family, especially since they were so important to him.  Mrs. Fanny Chamberlain greatly disliked her husband’s role in politics, which, compounded with other factors, strained their marriage; they eventually forgave and forgot the disagreements and lived quite happily until Fanny’s death in 1905.  The two children who lived to adulthood were Grace and Harold.  Harold became a not very successful attorney/businessman. Grace married a businessman named Mr. Allen and had several children; the little ones enjoyed visiting their grandparents.

On January 20, 1914, General Chamberlain died at the age of 86.  Fifty years earlier, doctors in a field hospital told him that within days he would die of battle wounds, or if he survived he would be an invalid for life.  Chamberlain wasn’t a quitter; he recovered, and though plagued with pain and infection for the rest of his life, he found new and challenging ways to serve his community and nation.

I hope that this three part biography of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain has (and will) inspire you to find ways to leave a positive impact in your world.  Patriotism and Self-less service are never “old-fashion”!

Your Historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. Anything on Chamberlain’s list of “relaxing” accomplishments that inspires you?  Leave a comment and tell us!



“Bayonet! Forward” My Civil War Reminiscences by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Soul of the Lion: A Biography of General Joshua L. Chamberlain by Willard M. Wallace

In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain & The American Civil War by Alice Rains Trulock

A Professor Goes To War

A professor going to war?  Did you ever hear anything so extraordinary?  Today, higher education has entrenched itself with world peace, pacifism, and – dare I say it – selfishness.  (Broad statement, I know – I hope there are some patriotic professors out there to prove me wrong with noble actions!)  There was opposition in 1862 when the rhetoric teacher at Bowdoin College decided to enlist – but, wait – we need a little introduction…


150 years ago an American citizen with no formal military training – aside from two years of battlefield experience – was promoted to brigadier general.  When he received the promotion, he was lying in a hospital bed, expected to live only a few more days.  His name was Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Perhaps you’ve seen the movie Gods and Generals or read the novel Killer Angels – so maybe you’ve heard of Chamberlain before.  But do you know what he did before or after his hour at Gettysburg which has captured the cinematic world?  (I know there’s a lot of hype about Chamberlain in the Civil War historian’s realm, but here we’re exploring the man behind the legend and his leadership skills; we’ll talk about some lesser known historical figures another time, so stay with us…)  In the first three posts for the month of July, we’ll briefly examine Chamberlain’s biography.  I’ll share my favorite leadership moment from Chamberlain’s war experiences in the fourth post.  Now that you know the basic plan for this month, I’ll quit chatting and let’s get to the history!


In the summer of 1862 Professor Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of Bowdoin College in Maine enlisted to fight with the Union Army.  At the time, the American Civil War had been raging for over a year and would last for three more years.  After requesting a leave of absence to supposedly tour Europe for educational purposes, Chamberlain voluntarily enlisted, to the surprise of his colleagues and family.  What skills did he possess and what prompted him to step forward in answer to his country’s call?

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in Union Military Uniform

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain in Union Military Uniform

There are five principles in Chamberlain’s early life that were the foundation for his 1862 decision:

1. Principle   Joshua L. Chamberlain (called Lawrence by his family) grew up on a New England farm in the state of Maine.  Born on September 8, 1828, Lawrence was the eldest child in the family.  His parents taught him to value hard work and athletic recreation.  The strong principles of honor, duty, morality, faith, and hard work were the bed-rock of his character.

2. The Ability to Learn  In his teen years, Lawrence decided to attend college, but found that his foreign language skills – especially Greek – were severely lacking.  He devised a self-regulated study program for himself: about eight hours a day were spent alone in the attic to study, there was time for chores, and recreation of friendly dueling with broadswords with his father or brothers.  In months Chamberlain had completed and mastered the language skills that most students took years to decipher.  He started his college studies in 1848 and graduated in 1852.  These years of intensive study built Lawrence’s confidence that he could learn new skills quickly.  As he prepared to enlist in 1862, he wrote: “I have always been interested in military matters, and what I do not know in that line, I know how to learn” (Trulock, page 8).

3. Family  In 1852 Lawrence Chamberlain asked Miss Frances (Fanny) Caroline Adams to marry him; she said yes.  However, the marriage between the college graduate and the minister’s adopted daughter was delayed until December 1855, as the graduate looked for steady work, eventually accepting a position of rhetoric teacher at Bowdoin College.  Lawrence and Fanny Chamberlain had five children, but only two – Grace and Harold – would survive to adulthood.  In 1862Grace and Harold were six and four.  Lawrence regretted leaving his little family to join the military, and he frequently wrote to them while he was away.  He was fighting for the America his children would inherit.

The Chamberlain House in Brunswick, Maine

The Chamberlain House in Brunswick, Maine

4. Future  While he regretted leaving his family when he enlisted, Chamberlain firmly believed that the future of America was at stake in the conflict.  Could there be two separate and independent nations carved out of the United States because of Southern secession?  Could America tolerate slavery any longer?  Chamberlain’s answer was: No.  He went to war to defend and shape the future of America.

5. Patriotism  After arranging a “leave of absence” from his teaching post, Chamberlain wrote to the governor of Maine to request a position with a field regiment: “…but, I fear, this war so costly of blood and treasure will not cease until the men of the North are willing to leave good positions, and sacrifice the dearest personal interests, to rescue our Country from desolation…every man ought to come forward and ask to be placed at his proper post.” (Trulock, page 8)

Events and life circumstances prepared Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain for the leadership role that he would step into as he marched to war with the 20th Maine Regiment.  In the later years of his life, Chamberlain would acknowledge the importance of preparation and foundational principles:  “We know not of the future, and cannot plan for it much.  But we can hold our spirits and our bodies so pure and high, we may cherish such thoughts and such ideals, and dreams such dreams of lofty purpose, that we can determine and know what manner of men we will be whenever and wherever the hour strikes that calls to noble actions…no man becomes suddenly different from his habit and cherished thought.” (Trulock, page 62)

The hour for noble actions was ahead.  As the Professor went to war in 1862, he had no idea that two years later on July 3, 1864, he would be fighting for his life and for a chance to command in his new position as brigadier general…

Your historian,

Miss Sarah

P.S. My brother informs me that “biographies are boring” so I’m trying to innovate with this list of foundational facts…  If you like this format, please leave me a comment; thanks!


In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain & The American Civil War by Alica Rains Trulock

Soul of the Lion: A Biography of General Joshua L. Chamberlain by Willard M. Wallace

“Bayonet Forward!” My Civil War Reminiscences by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain