How General Chamberlain with the 20th Maine Held Little Round Top
Lewiston Journal May 23, 1912
The quotes attributed to Chamberlain in this article are baffling.
While he first accurately states that he
had command of the 20th Maine at Gettysburg, he then states "With my regiment I also had the 83rd
Pennsylvania and the 44th New York regiment in my command." He did command the whole brigade after
Gettysburg, and it appears he was overseeing the actions of the 83rd and 44th on Big Round Top,
this may be attributing to his or the writers confusion.
And while it is true that the 20th was placed in reserve behind the lines where Pickett's charge would take place
it is doubtful that they knew Pickett's charge was coming that day as Chamberlain supposedly relates.
It would seem the author of the article took the liberty of sensationalizing Chamberlain's account, something that was not unusual for newspaper reporters of the time.
If you look over the collection on this website you will see that Chamberlain after the battle and
when he first returned home from war was eager to write and talk about Little Round Top, he felt at the time
that the 20th was not one of Maine's favorites, "No county claimed them. No city gave them a flag."2
They needed someone to speak for them, and have pride in them. On medical leave after the war Chamberlain had time
to write out the history of all of his engagements intending to write the History of the 5th Corps
But as their fame grew Chamberlain refrained from what he called "'booming' himself" and said very little
about Round Top. It's a shame, for two of the members of the regiment who did write histories may not have even been
For what ever reason, whether it was the 50th anniversary, a desire to leave something behind, or a need to earn money,
Chamberlain wrote many articles about the war in his final years. Fortunately he relied heavily on
the notes he made in 1865, many of which were already transformed into speeches, but sadly the published versions of some accounts like
Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg
and My Story of Fredericksburg
been drastically changed by the editors and the originals have not been located.