The Civil Dozen — Part Five(a)

After the Union’s victory at Gettysburg, Chamberlain was given command of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, Fifth Corps, and participated in the Culpepper and Centreville campaign in October. By now, after having undergone his baptism of fire and many trials with the 20th, Chamberlain had earned the respect and loyalty of his men. The soldiers admired his skill and bravery. They appreciated his humility and willingness to endure the same conditions as them, sleeping on the ground in the harshest of climates. They appreciated his acts of kindness and courtesy towards them. The attention he paid to the sick or wounded in his command was seen over and over again. The time and care he took in sending home the personal effects of those who died was remembered as well. By mid-June, 1864 Chamberlain became the commander of the 1st Division’s new 1st Pennsylvania Brigade which fought valiantly at Rives’ Salient on June 18, 1864. At one point in this battle, he bore the flag after the color bearer was killed at his side, until he too was shot by a minié ball. Though the wound was severe, Chamberlain maintained his composure until every one of his men had passed from view. Even in his grave condition he refused preferential treatment, insisting that others with far more serious wounds be tended to first. The belief that Chamberlain’s wound was mortal led to his swift promotion to Brigadier General by General Ulysses Grant. This was the only instance of a promotion on the battlefield given by Grant in the entire war. Chamberlain was admitted into the Naval Academy hospital at Annapolis with little hope for his survival. Chamberlain proved them wrong. His will to live was strong. By November he again reported for duty, despite the fact that he could not yet ride a horse or walk a great distance. On March 29, 1865, Chamberlain and his 1st Brigade were engaged in a hot fight in which they had to employ their bayonets. Chamberlain was again wounded, having another one of his many horses shot under him. Chamberlain was nearly taken prisoner but eluded his captors by posing as a Confederate officer. Finally, on April...

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