Title: Gettysburg National Park
Publication: Gettysburg Compiler
Date: November 11, 1916
Keywords: Joshua Chamberlain, Lawrence Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, monument, statue, gettysburg
Chamberlain Statue - Gettysburg

image courtesy GNMP

Maine intended to erect a statue of Chamberlain on Little Round Top along Chamberlain Avenue (see above blueprint). The monument first proposed in 1906, potentially could have faced challenges similar to the ones the 83rd Pennsylvania monument faced when the regiment wanted to make their monument a statue of Vincent. As Oliver Norton would recall, "The Commissioners of the State very properly refused to permit any personal allusions or inscriptions to be placed on the Pennsylvania monuments."1 Thus the 83rd Pennsylvania monument is said to bear a striking resemblance to Vincent but is not labeled as such.2 Pennsylvania however did pass separate acts to allow for the erection of statues to General Meade, Reynolds and Hancock as well as civilian John Burns.3
    No restrictions seemed to hinder the proposal for the Chamberlain monument. The State of Maine, Gettysburg National Military Park, and the War Department all appeared to give the project their blessing. Henry S. Burrage, Maine's first official state historian wrote to Chamberlain on November 22nd, 1909 including with his letter the proposed plan seen above,
"I enclose a letter from Col. Nicholson concerning the position of the Chamberlain Memorial at Gettysburg. You are the one most familiar with the place and so the best fitted to make the selection. I send the plan. I take it that the position deemed the best by the Commission is the boulder 10 feet in diameter and 3 feet high, just opposite the L.F. of the 20th Maine, where from the curve in the avenue a memorial would be seen in front and on either side."
About a month after the above letter was sent, a letter from John P. Nicholson, chairman of the Gettysburg National Park Commission, to Burrage suggests that Chamberlain was not comfortable with the idea of a statue of himself,4
image courtesy GNMP

    Perhaps if Chamberlain had been as vain as Ellis Spear would later imagine, the monument plans would not have languished. The monument idea remained on the books as is evidenced by this newspaper clipping and another copy of this same report in the 1916, Annual Report of the Secretary of War.
    In the War Department's Annual Report for 1918 a small blurb reads, "The Chamberlain and Howard Statues: There is nothing to report in the matter except that the site for the Chamberlain statue was fixed several years ago, Gen. Chamberlain being present." It is not clear if this statement is in error or if Chamberlain was present for the selection of the position for a monument of himself. It appears that Chamberlain was first informed of the possible location of a Chamberlain statue in the Burrage letter; Chamberlain was however a member of the committee to place General Howard's statue in 1911.5
    The Howard statue was erected in 1932. The Chamberlain statue was never erected and his story seemed to fall into obscurity for many years. However because of his somewhat recent resurgence of fame, first through John Pullen's 20th Maine in 1957, then through novel and feature film, many visitors to Little Round Top expect to find a statue to Chamberlain. Some even mistake the statue of General Warren for Chamberlain. With the case never officially closed who knows what the future might hold, but for now visitors to the park will have to imagine a Chamberlain statue or visit the recreated Little Round Top complete with 20th Maine Monument, Chamberlain statue and even Oates' boulder at Chamberlain Freedom Park in Brewer, Maine.