GUNS OF THE NORTHLt. Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain & 20th Maine Regiment
November 9, 1862 - Near Warrenton, Virginia
The Army of the Potomac’s Fifth Corps was given orders to head south from its Maryland camps into enemy territory in early November of 1862. The men crossed the Potomac River in the middle of the night and rested for a few hours in the village of Harper’s Ferry. Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, were in their element in cold weather. Being born and raised in the State of Maine, the regiment felt strong as temperatures began to drop. Soon heavy snows covered the northern Virginia countryside.
On November 5th, President Abraham Lincoln gave the order to relieve General George B. McClellan as commander of the Army of the Potomac. General Ambrose E. Burnside was then given command of the army. The next day the Fifth Corps continued their march from their bivouac at Snicker’s Gap.
In the evening of November the 9th, Chamberlain and his 20th Maine arrived at the Fifth Corps headquarters near Warrenton. They would be in time to witness McClellan’s emotional farewell as he rode by thousands of cheering solders lining the sides of the Alexandria and Warrenton Pike. The Fifth Corps division gave General McClellan the honorable tribute of snapping to attention with the command order, “Present Arms”.
General Burnside was now in charge of the Army of the Potomac, and his skills and decisions would be tested against those of General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Fredericksburg.
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