June 20, 2013 08:00 PM EDT Cincinnati


Bvt. Major General Joshua Chamberlain--CMOH, CDV

An unsigned late war vignette of this iconic officer with blue two cent revenue stamp, no back mark. At the forefront of a pantheon of Gettysburg notables forever enshrined in the American psyche, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor for his “heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on Little Round Top” on July 2, 1863 at Gettysburg.

Afterwards, the pensive professor turned soldier earned accolades in several bloody engagements in which “his coolness of judgment and quickness of action drew special commendation." Grievously wounded while leading a charge at Petersburg on June 18, 1864 and reported dead, Grant awarded him a battlefield commission to Brigadier General “for gallant conduct in leading his brigade against a superior force of the enemy and for meritorious service.”

After delicate surgery, followed by months of hospitalization, Chamberlain, still not completely fit for duty, returned to command at the end of the war only to be wounded again. On March 29, 1865, given two brigades he “led the advance of the infantry with Sheridan, and made the brilliant opening fight on the Quaker Road where he was hit in the left arm and breast, and his horse shot under him.” Consequently, he was promoted to brevet Major General “for conspicuous gallantry.” Several days later on April 1 at the battle of Five Forks, he received “special mention for recovering a lost field.” His troops led the final advance at Appomattox and it was to Chamberlain that Longstreet’s first flag of truce arrived on April 9. General Chamberlain was given the honor of commanding “the parade before which Lee’s once vaunted Army of Northern Virginia laid down its arms and colors,” and surrendered. As a final tribute, it was Chamberlain’s Division that was “placed at the head of the column of the Army of the Potomac” during the Grand Review. General Chamberlain left the army in January 1866 and returned to the soliloquy of civilian life, immortalized as a true American hero. Never prone to regale in his exploits, he answered the call of the last bugle on February 24, 1914.

20th Maine, 3rd Brigade, First Division, 5th Corps

The 20th Maine was organized at Augusta in August 1862 and was immediately assigned to the 5th Corps serving in that organization for the duration. The regiment first saw action at Antietam and was not heavily engaged at Fredericksburg.

On Little Round Top, the exploits of the tenacious 20th Maine under the much heralded Joshua Chamberlain (awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor) require no embellishment. The regiment held the extreme left flank of the Union line anchored on a promontory ideally suited for defense, a strategic position that absolutely had to remain in Union hands to ensure the survival of the rest of the army of the Potomac. During the late afternoon of July 2nd General Hood sensed an opportunity to capture the southern crest and aggressively probed the position in brigade strength finally sweeping over the slope of Big Round Top. Clusters and waves of butternuts were repelled by the men of the 20th Maine, formed in an irregular line of battle among the stone crags and boulders of the crest. As ammunition ran low and another Confederate attack seemed imminent, Chamberlain ordered his regiment to fix bayonets “and on command, the attacked became the attackers.” With a mighty yell the men of the 20th Maine hurled themselves down the sloop and through the little valley driving the bewildered Confederates and securing the flank of the Union army. The immortal defense of Little Round Top cost the regiment 130 killed and wounded out of 358 men engaged, but assured that its stalwart participants—the dead and the survivors—would forever be enshrined in the pantheon of American heroes.

In 1864, the 20th Maine fought in Grant’s Overland Campaign suffering terribly at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and at Peebles’ Farm in September. The regiment was in the thick of combat until the bitter end, suffering its last fatalities at Five Forks just days before Lee’s surrender. The 20th Maine mustered out on July 16, 1865 recording 147 killed and mortally wounded during its term of service.

Provenance:The Tom MacDonald Maine Civil War CDV Collection

Condition:CDV with dented corners and minor handling wear, G+.

Estimate: $3,000 - $4,000
Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium


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