MARCH AT DAWNStoneman's Switch, Virginia, December 11, 1862
The 20th Maine had finally been given orders to march from their encampment near Stoneman's Switch. The weather was frigid and it had snowed on the nights of December the sixth and seventh. Two men from the 20th had frozen to death during the night, and all were relieved to be on the move. The 20th Maine was under the command of Col. Adelbert Ames and Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain. During the war, both men would receive their country's highest honor for gallantry, the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Col. Ames was a professional soldier, and had graduated fifth at the U.S. Military Academy in 1861. When Ames first saw the 20th Maine he had doubts that he could ever whip it into military shape. Ames provided the discipline the regiment would need, but the troops developed a down right dislike for him because of the hard work and drilling the men were forced to perform. Joshua Chamberlain's younger brother Tom was also in the regiment and said, "I tell you he is about as savage a man you ever saw, I swear the men will shoot him the first battle we are in." But Ames changed the rough recruits of the 20th into a fine fighting machine. Under Ames guidance, Joshua Chamberlain too, learned how to lead men into battle.
On the surface Lt. Col. Chamberlain seemed an unlikely person to become one of America's most famous military heroes. He was soft spoken, deeply religious, philosophical, and a bookish college professor in Maine when the Civil War began. But during the course of the war the college professor from Maine would lead his regiment to fame and glory.
As the 20th Maine marched towards the beautiful city of Fredericksburg, the battle Chamberlain had been expecting for weeks was at hand. The battle of Fredericksburg would be the regiment's first great test, and none would shrink from their duty.
Chamberlain had a beautiful white dappled horse, named Prince, that everyone admired. He wore a pair of sky blue pants and a cavalry overcoat. Completing his outfit were two large pistols in their pommel holsters and a fine three-foot-long sword. Rebel prisoners, tongue in cheek, praised the horse and sword, but "took no fancy to the man." Also featured in the painting is Col. Ames on Chamberlain's right with Tom Chamberlain to his left. Captain Ellis Spear is walking next to the regimental colors.
This is the fourth and final print in the "Gods and Generals" Series
This print may still be available on the secondary market.
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