Joshua L Chamberlain

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  • Topic: Joshua Chamberlain, 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Bowdoin College
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  • Published : October 25, 2011
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Joshua L Chamberlain
Once a missionary and fluent in 9 languages, it is hard to believe that Joshua Chamberlain would become one of the greatest colonels in American history. Chamberlain’s, courage, intelligence and leadership in the Civil War played a pivotal role in defeating the Confederate forces and ultimately unifying America. Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain was born on September 8, 1828 in Brewer, Maine. His parents, Joshua and Sarah Dupee Chamberlain, named him after the heroic Commodore James Lawrence who had immortalized the words "Don't give up the ship!" The eldest of five children, young Lawrence was raised as a Puritan and Huguenot (French Protestant) in a household which prized good manners, cheerfulness, morality, education, and industry. Despite his father’s wishes; who was a former lieutenant colonel in the military, Chamberlain in 1848, enrolled at Bowdoin College at Brunswick.

As a student Chamberlain earned a reputation for standing behind his principles even when challenged by authorities. As a student he enjoyed singing and playing the bass viol on which he was self taught. He also taught himself how to play the organ which would eventually lead to him becoming the organist for the college chapel. It was there where he would meet future wife, Fannie Adams; the adopted daughter of the minister. They would not be married until 1855, following his graduation from both a three-year seminary course at Bangor Theological Seminary and Bowdoin College with his master's degree. . In spring of 1856, Chamberlain was elected professor of rhetoric and oratory at Bowdoin. By 1861, he was elected to the chair of modern languages.

With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Chamberlain felt a strong desire to serve his country. At that time though, he was offered a year's travel with pay in Europe in 1862 to study languages, Chamberlain instead volunteered his military services to Maine's governor. He was soon made lieutenant colonel of the 20th Maine...
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