Portrait of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Portrait

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was immortalized in Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Killer Angels, and in the movie Gettysburg, which was based upon that novel.  [Library of Congress]

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain - Facts

September 8, 1828–February 24, 1914

Key facts about Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain a Union military commander who earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics at the Battle of Gettysburg.

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Full Name:

  • Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Birth Date:

  • September 8, 1828

Birth Location:

  • Brewer, Maine

Parents:

  • Joshua and Sarah “Sally” (Brastow) Chamberlain

Education:

  • Bowdoin College (1852)

Occupation:

  • College professor
  • Military officer
  • Politician

Career Summary:

  • Brigadier General (USVA)
  • Brevet Major General (USVA)
  • Governor of Maine
  • President of Bowdoin College

Spouse:

  • Frances “Fannie” Caroline Adams (1855)

Nickname(s):

  • Lion of the Round Top
  • Bloody Chamberlain

Place of Death:

  • Portland, Maine

Date of Death:

  • February 24, 1914

Place of Burial:

  • Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick, Maine

Significance:

  • Chamberlain’s parents were Joshua and Sarah “Sally” (Brastow) Chamberlain.
  • Chamberlain entered Bowdoin College in 1848 and graduated in 1852.
  • Chamberlain met and became friends with Harriet Beecher Stowe while attending Bowdoin College.
  • In 1855, Chamberlain earned a bachelor’s degree in divinity at Bangor Theological Seminary.
  • Chamberlain married Frances “Fannie” Caroline Adams on December 7, 1855.
  • From 1855 to 1862, Chamberlain was a professor at Bowdoin College.
  • Chamberlain was fluent in 10 languages.
  • In 1862, Chamberlain enlisted in the 20th Maine Regiment, a part of the Army of the Potomac.
  • Chamberlain fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg (December 11 -15, 1862).
  • Chamberlain was promoted to the rank of colonel in June 1863.
  • Chamberlain became famous at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 – July 3, 1863) for his defense of a hill named Little Round Top.
  • Chamberlain acquired the nickname, “the Lion of the Round Top,” for actions at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 – July 3, 1863).
  • Chamberlain was stricken with malaria in 1863 and removed from active duty until April 1864.
  • Chamberlain was seriously wounded by a gunshot to the leg and groin during the Second Battle of Petersburg on June 18, 1864.
  • Expecting Chamberlain to die from his wounds at Petersburg, Ulysses S. Grant gave him a battlefield promotion to brigadier general on June 19, 1864.
  • Chamberlain recovered from his wounds at Petersburg and returned to active duty in November 1864.
  • Chamberlain was wounded in the arm and chest at the Battle of Lewis’s Farm (March 29, 1865).
  • President Abraham Lincoln brevetted Chamberlain to the rank of major general following the Battle of Lewis’s Farm (March 29, 1865).
  • On the morning of April 9, 1865, Chamberlain officially received Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s request for a cessation of hostilities, to arrange for surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.
  • Chamberlain presided over the surrender of the Confederate infantry at Appomattox Court House on April 12, 1865.
  • Chamberlain is remembered for the dignity and respect he accorded the defeated Confederate troops during the surrender ceremonies at Appomattox Court House.
  • During the Civil War, Chamberlain was wounded six times.
  • In 1866, Chamberlain was elected to the first of four one-year terms as Governor of Maine.
  • In 1871, Chamberlain was appointed as president of Bowdoin College.
  • In 1883, Chamberlain was forced to resign his position at Bowdoin College due to ill health cause by his Civil War wounds.
  • In 1893, Chamberlain was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroics at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 – 3, 1863) thirty years earlier.
  • Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain died on February 24, 1914 at Portland, Maine.
  • Chamberlain is buried Pine Grove Cemetery in Brunswick, Maine.
  • Chamberlain’s memoirs, entitled The Passing of Armies, were published in 1915, one year after his death.
  • He was immortalized in Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Killer Angels, and in the movie Gettysburg, which was based upon that novel.
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Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain - Facts
  • Coverage September 8, 1828–February 24, 1914
  • Author
  • Keywords joshua lawrence chamberlain
  • Website Name American History Central
  • Access Date May 28, 2022
  • Publisher R.Squared Communications, LLC
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update May 5, 2022
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