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The Battle on Little Round Top at Gettysburg

Fought on July 1 through 3, 1863 in a sleepy farm town in Pennsylvania, the Battle of Gettysburg would later be regarded by historians as the turning point of the Civil War. After three days of brutal combat the two armies suffered more than 51,000 casualties.

The Valley of Death
On day two of the battle, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Regiment Volunteers participated in a key engagement on Little Round Top, and with the troops of the Fifth Corps staunchly held the Union army's position. For his gallantry during this fight, he would receive the Congressional Medal of Honor many years after the war ended. Chamberlain wrote about the battle on Little Round Top in an article that was published by Hearst's Magazine in 1913. Excerpts from his account expressing his thoughts on the aftermath of the battle are featured below.


Above: View from Little Round Top of the Valley of Death. Photo by DLO.

Excerpts from "Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg"
by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

image of Brigadier General ChamberlainDeath's Soft Whisper

...I thought of those other noble men of every type, commanders all, who bore their wounds so bravely—many to meet their end on later fields—and those on whose true hearts further high trusts were to be laid. Nor did I forget those others, whether their names are written on the scrolls of honor and fame, or their dust left on some far field and nameless here—nameless never to me, nor nameless, I trust in God, where they are to-night....

Unforgotten Sons of God

They did not know it themselves—those boys of ours whose remembered faces in every home should be cherished symbols of the true, for life or death—what were their lofty deeds of body, mind, heart, soul, on that tremendous day.

Unknown—but kept! The earth itself shall be its treasurer. It holds something of ours besides graves. These strange influences of material nature, its mountains and seas, its sunset skies and nights of stars, its colors and tones and odors, carry something of the mutual, reciprocal. It is a sympathy. On that other side it is represented to us as suffering. The whole creation, travailing in pain together, in earnest expectation, waiting for the adoption—having right, then, to something which is to be its own.

And so these Gettysburg hills, which lifted up such splendid valor, and drank in such high heart's blood, shall hold the mighty secret in their bosom till the great day of revelation and recompense, when these heights shall flame again with transfigured light—they, too, have part in that adoption, which is the manifestation of the sons of God!


Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, "Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg," 1913 (Pennsylvania: Stan Clark Military Books, 1994), pp. 28-29.

Above: Image of Brigadier General Joshua L. Chamberlain, 1864, courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Index to Chamberlain's Pages
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