Joshua L. Chamberlain: The Life In Letters Of A Great Leader Of The American Civil War by Thomas DesjardinJoshua L. Chamberlain: The Life In Letters Of A Great Leader Of The American Civil War by Thomas Desjardin

Joshua L. Chamberlain: The Life In Letters Of A Great Leader Of The American Civil War

byThomas Desjardin, The National Civil War Museum

Hardcover | May 22, 2012

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Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain has been a central character in two feature films (Gettysburg and Gods & Generals), a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (The Killer Angels), and an inspiration for Ken Burns's production of the highly acclaimed PBS series The Civil War. Chamberlain won national fame at the Battle of Gettysburg for his key role in fending off the Confederates at Little Round Top on day two of the battle.

This new volume brings to public light 300 never-before-seen letters from Chamberlain's personal correspondence, which comprises letters sent by or to Chamberlain from his college years in 1852 to his death in 1914. The first 100 letters shed light on Chamberlain's formative years and his courtship with Fannie Adams, which has been the source of much speculation by scholars. The final 200 letters reveal insights into Chamberlain the Union commander and the aftermath of the war.

Chamberlain's image can be found on everything from historical art to sculpture, from t-shirts to clocks, from bobble-head dolls to snow globes. Despite all this attention, there is still a lot about Chamberlain that most people do not know. His life is a remarkable story of perseverance, tragedy, and triumph. From an insecure young man with a considerable stuttering problem who grew up in a small town in eastern Maine, Joshua Chamberlain rose to become a major general, recipient of the Medal of Honor, Governor of Maine, and President of Bowdoin College. His writings are among the most oft-quoted of all Civil War memoirs, and he has become a legendary, even mythical historical figure.

Historian and acclaimed author, Thomas Desjardin, puts Chamberlain's words in contemporary and historical context and uses this extraordinary collection of letters to reveal--for the first time--the full and remarkable life of Joshua Chamberlain. Readers will find this unique portrait of Chamberlain to be entertaining, moving, and inspiring.

Tom Desjardin holds a Ph.D. in U.S. History and has written several books on the Civil War with an emphasis on Gettysburg. During the 1990s he served as the archivist and historian at Gettysburg National Military Park. He later taught Civil War history at Bowdoin College in Maine where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin and ...
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Title:Joshua L. Chamberlain: The Life In Letters Of A Great Leader Of The American Civil WarFormat:HardcoverDimensions:336 pages, 9.86 × 6.5 × 1.28 inPublished:May 22, 2012Publisher:Bloomsbury USALanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1849085595

ISBN - 13:9781849085595

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Joshua Chamberlain-A Life in Letters

I. Formative Years (38 Letters)
This includes brief biography of his childhood followed by letters through his college years. Few Chamberlain fans realize that he suffered greatly as a child from a stammering problem that greatly affected his personality. In an autobiography he wrote decades afterward, he recalled that, "the sleepless anxiety on this score was a serious wear upon the nervous system. It was not much short of agonizing ... This positive disability added to a natural timidity of self-assertion, apt to disclose itself on untimely occasions in that stupidity called bashfulness, had a decided effect on habits both of speech and action, which placed one at a serious disadvantage." This early affliction shaped the way in which he related to his future wife, Frances "Fannie" Adams, who had her own issues having been sent from Massachusetts by her parents to be raised by a relative who was the minister at the Congregational church in Brunswick, Maine.

II. Joshua and Fannie (70 Letters)
These letters shed much new light on the most mysterious and defining years of Chamberlain's life. During this time, he graduated from Bowdoin College, attended and graduated from the Bangor Theological Seminary, married, and had five children, only two of which lived into a second year. His courtship of Fannie Adams, played out in these often needy and emotionally immature letters, reveal a great deal about him and how this period effected his personality and actions in the years that followed. Much has been written about the strained relationship between Joshua and Fannie while speculating what impact this might have had on him and his actions. This is by far the largest collection of letters between them, and they will provide fertile ground for future scholars, researchers, and historians to study.

III. Off to War (27 Letters)
Chamberlain's desire to serve during the Civil War was thwarted by Bowdoin College's refusal to allow him a leave of absence. Undaunted, Chamberlain applied for a two-year sabbatical to study in Europe, which was awarded. Instead of journeying to Europe, he made his way to the state capitol in Augusta and offered his services to the governor. His appointment as lieutenant colonel of Maine's 20th regiment of infantry soon followed. A military novice, Chamberlain used the "down time" in camp to study military history and tactics. This chapter will detail Chamberlain's initial involvement in the Union army. Using selected letters, we can see Chamberlain's evolution from a military novice to a veteran officer.

IV. Gettysburg to Appomattox (23 Letters)
Though most well-known for his service at Gettysburg, Chamberlain was so impressive as a field commander during the last two years of the war that Ulysses S. Grant chose him personally to command the Union troops that accepted the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox. He was wounded several times, including a nearly fatal wound at Petersburg, and personally led repeated charges against the enemy in the closing weeks of the war. These letters also include more love letters to his wife, revealing his increasing difficulty in getting her to answer his correspondence. This section includes a very important letter to his wife in which he describes in great detail, directly from his notes, his experiences in the Battle of Fredericksburg. He later referred to this letter when writing his famous article, "My Story of Fredericksburg," for Cosmopolitan Magazine in 1912. His description in that article formed a large part of an episode of the Ken Burns series The Civil War and the feature film Gods and Generals.

V. The Elder Statesman (96 Letters)
Following the war, Chamberlain returned home a war hero and soon found himself the preferred candidate of the Republican Party for governor. He was elected to four consecutive one-year terms and struggled with such ominous issues as prohibition (a legal premise invented in Maine at this time) and capital punishment, among other things. Letters from this period also refer to his political prowess and bravery in the great "Count-Out Crisis" of 1880. As head of the state militia, he was called on to keep the peace in the state capitol after a disputed election for governor even while armed mobs of political supporters of the two candidates threatened to capture or kill him.

Conclusion: Lion of the Round Top

Editorial Reviews

"Numnerous bookshave been written about this American hero, but few have revealed his more human qualities than this collection of letters from his personal correspondence." -Bill Bushnell, New Maine Times (January 30, 2013)"Joshua Chamberlain (1828-1914) may be Maine's most recognized historical figure and for good reason -- he was a selfless man of honor, loyalty, courage and compassion. And his personal correspondence clearly reflects those laudable qualities in this revealing book sponsored by the National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA." -Bill Bushnell, Kennebec Journal (January 17, 2013)"Tom Desjardin has accomplished something remarkable, excavating afresh treasures from the heavily mined Chamberlain archive. Scholars, fans, aficionados--indeed, anyone interested in the Civil War--will learn much about one of Maine's favorite sons and a hero to many Americans. The Chamberlain uncovered in these pages is no stereotype, but a complex man, whose virtues and failings vastly enrich our portrait of him. With sensitivity and wit, Desjardin offers us a new Chamberlain--perhaps less heroic than the one we know, but ultimately far more human. In the process, he adds much to our understanding not just of the Civil War, but of American life in the Victorian era." -Patrick Rael, Professor of History, Bowdoin College"The bayonet brought Joshua Chamberlain lasting fame, but his pen is why he should be remembered. His beautifully crafted letters convey a deep and resilient love for Union that sustained him in the ranks. While soldiers on both sides succumbed to the brutal indifference of military life, ideas shielded Chamberlain's soul, preventing him from becoming a cold and callous veteran. The exceptional correspondence contained in Joshua L. Chamberlain: A Life in Letters brings us down from the hero-worshiping altar of Little Round Top to the ground level of war where the Civil War's most famous Union colonel managed to find higher meaning in the daily struggles of trying to survive a bloody Civil War." -Peter S. Carmichael, Robert C. Fluhrer Professor of Civil War Studies and Director, Civil War Institute"Many know Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, the 'hero of Little Round Top' and icon of Gettysburg, well, but relatively little about the life of the real Joshua Chamberlain. This marvelous collection of letters reveals to us the person concealed behind the myth and legend. They do not diminish his stature; rather they enhance it. Chamberlain was a remarkable man and lived an eventful, fascinating life. Enjoy the letters and meet the man." -D. Scott Hartwig, Historian, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania"Given that the past twenty-five years have seen Joshua L. Chamberlain rise in popularity to almost mythic proportions, this wonderful collection of his previously unknown and unpublished personal letters will be essential reading for his fans. They reveal more of the inner man than anything to come to print to date, and his letters immediately after the battles at Fredericksburg and Gettysburg will be pored over by scholars. A first-rate contribution to the literature of the war." -William C. Davis, Professor of History, Virginia Tech University, and author of Battle of Bull Run and Lone Star Rising"This compilation of letters may just be the most important book published on Chamberlain in recent memory." -Robert Grandchamp, Blue & Gray Magazine"A valuable volume, primarily for those who wish to know more about Joshua Chamberlain than just his iconic performance at Gettysburg." -Judkin Browning, Civil War Book Review"...[a] timely addition to the literature of the Civil War, appearing as it does on the 150th anniversary of Joshua Chamberlain's entry into the Union Army." -Michael Burlingame, author of Abraham Lincoln: A Life, in a review for The Wall Street Journal (July 22, 2012)