Joshua Chamberlain and "the Misfits of the 2nd Maine"

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John Hartwell

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One of the memorable early scenes in the movie "Gettysburg" regards the arrival of "the misfits of the 2nd Maine" at the camp of Chamberlain's 20th Maine; and also the latter's long, preachy speech to them. That all actually happened back in May, several weeks earlier than the movie suggests. And, we don't know what Chamberlain actually said to the men. But, whatever it was, it must have been what they needed to hear, for all but six of the 100-plus men agreed to be integrated into the 20th. In the end, they all took up arms and served loyally.

In his first communication as regimental commander with Maine Governor Abner Coburn, Chamberlain spoke of their situation:

"Headquarters 20th Maine Volunteers
May 25th 1863
To His Excellency Gov. Coburn

"Governor,

"I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your favor of the 20th instant to Col. Ames, and sent to me as the present Commanding Officer of this Reg’t., Col. Ames having been appointed Brigadier General, has taken his oath of office & been assigned a Brigade in Gen. Howard’s Corps where he is now on duty."

[after some remarks regarding the appointment of a new regimental surgeon]

"There is another matter, Governor, about which I wish to have a word with you. The transfer of the 'three years men' of the 2nd Maine has been so clumsily done, that the men were allowed to grow quite mutinous – left uncared for in their old camp after the 2nd had gone for several days & having time & provocation to work themselves up to such a pitch of mutiny that Gen. Barnes had to send them to me as prisoners, liable to severe penalties for disobedience to his orders.

"You are aware, Governor, that promises were made to induce these men to enlist, which are not now kept, & I must say that I sympathize with them in their view of the case. Assured as they were that they would be mustered out with the 2nd, they cannot but feel that they are falsely dealt with in being retained & sent to duty in other Reg’ts. They need to be managed with great care & skill; but I fear that some of them will get into trouble for disobedience of orders or mutiny.

"My orders are to take them & put them on duty which they have already refused to Gen. Barnes & others. I shall carry out any orders whatever may be the consequence; but I sincerely wish these men were fairly dealt with by those who made their promises. All their papers say they are enlisted for three years just as the men of this regiment are, & for us in the field there is no other way but to hold them to it. What you may be able to do for them I do not know.

"I am Governor,
Very Respectfully,
Your ob’t serv’t
J. L. Chamberlain
Lt. Col 20th Maine Vols"
 

dibbern

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I found his "After Action Report On The Actions of The 20th Maine at Gettysburg" available at Amazon. It was a free download to my Fire.
 
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John Hartwell

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Whatever Chamberlain actually said, I loved the movie version of his speech.
The script was put together from actual Chamberlain quotes. He said/wrote all that, but probably not all at once, or at just that time. His own writing is very elegant and "literary," I love to read it, but it doesn't always work when spoken aloud: can sound very "preachy."
 

John Hartwell

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One of those 2nd Maine men was Sergeant Andrew Tozier, though that isn't made clear in the movie.

Andrew had had a difficult childhood. His father was an abusive alcoholic, and the family was poor. He ran away from home at age 15 to escape his father, and went to sea. He enlisted in the 2nd Maine on July 15, 1861, as a private in Co. I. He was promoted to corporal, and then sergeant in the 2nd; wounded at Gaines Mill (lost middle finger of his left hand), and was a PoW for a while before being exchanged.

After transfer to the 20th Maine, he was appointed color-sergeant. His predecessor had gotten drunk and gone AWOL during the march to Gettysburg. Tozier held his ground with the colors on Little Big Top, picking up a dropped rifle, loading and firing repeatedly while still cradling the flag in the crook of his arm. He received a Medal of Honor for that action. The Citation reads: “At the crisis of this engagement this soldier, a color bearer, stood alone in an advanced position, the regiment having borne back, and defended his colors with musket and ammunition picked up at his feet.” Chamberlain wanted to get him a commission, but Tozier declined, saying he'd rather remain in the ranks.

He survived a head-wound at the North Anna, but suffered from it's effects the rest of his life. He was discharged in July, 1864. After the war, he and his wife lived with the Chamberlains for a while, and were custodians of Chamberlain's home in Brunswick while he was governor of Maine. He spent his last decades on his farm in Litchfield, Me. He died in 1910.
 
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rpkennedy

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One of those 2nd Maine men was Sergeant Andrew Tozier, though that isn't made clear in the movie.

Andrew had had a difficult childhood. His father was an abusive alcoholic, and the family was poor. He ran away from home at age 15 to escape his father, and went to sea. He enlisted in the 2nd Maine on July 15, 1861, as a private in Co. I. He was promoted to corporal, and then sergeant in the 2nd; wounded at Gaines Mill (lost middle finger of his left hand), and was a PoW for a while before being exchanged.

After transfer to the 20th Maine, he was appointed color-sergeant. His predecessor had gotten drunk and gone AWOL during the march to Gettysburg. Tozier held his ground with the colors on Little Big Top, picking up a dropped rifle, loading and firing repeatedly while still cradling the flag in the crook of his arm. He received a Medal of Honor for that action. Chamberlain wanted to get him a commission, but Tozier declined, saying he'd rather remain in the ranks.

He survived a head-wound at the North Anna, but suffered from it's effects the rest of his life. He was discharged in July, 1864. After the war, he and his wife lived with the Chamberlains for a while, and were custodians of Chamberlain's home in Brunswick while he was governor of Maine. He spent his last decades on his farm in Litchfield, Me. He died in 1910.
Also, in the film, Tozier was depicted as a middle aged man when he was actually an ancient 25 at Gettysburg.

Ryan
 
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infomanpa

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One of the memorable early scenes in the movie "Gettysburg" regards the arrival of "the misfits of the 2nd Maine" at the camp of Chamberlain's 20th Maine; and also the latter's long, preachy speech to them. That all actually happened back in May, several weeks earlier than the movie suggests. And, we don't know what Chamberlain actually said to the men. But, whatever it was, it must have been what they needed to hear, for all but six of the 100-plus men agreed to be integrated into the 20th. In the end, they all took up arms and served loyally.
Thanks for this. I've always wondered why none of the books that I've read about the Gettysburg campaign mention the story of the 2nd Maine. Now, I know.
 

Hawkeye Brehm

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The script was put together from actual Chamberlain quotes. He said/wrote all that, but probably not all at once, or at just that time. His own writing is very elegant and "literary," I love to read it, but it doesn't always work when spoken aloud: can sound very "preachy."
This was one of the scenes I loved the most when I was 13. Of course, when I watch it now, I can't help but feel like it's a speech that doesn't really "go anywhere". Actually listening to the words makes me scratch my head and go, "What the heck is he talking about?"

I wasn't aware that it was pieced together from actual quotes, so maybe that has something to do with the disjointed feel of it. Regardless, it still made a huge impression on me as a kid; it might have helped inflate my initial perception of Chamberlain as well, but every kid needs a hero.
 
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John Hartwell

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This was one of the scenes I loved the most when I was 13. Of course, when I watch it now, I can't help but feel like it's a speech that doesn't really "go anywhere". Actually listening to the words makes me scratch my head and go, "What the heck is he talking about?"

I wasn't aware that it was pieced together from actual quotes, so maybe that has something to do with the disjointed feel of it. Regardless, it still made a huge impression on me as a kid; it might have helped inflate my initial perception of Chamberlain as well, but every kid needs a hero.
They are some mighty fine words. But, their impact is more emotional than logical.
 
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cash

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I don't think that in the movie, Tozier is shown as being part of the 2nd Maine when they first arrive. It would have been cool if he had been shown as part of that group.
They collapsed the time frame. The 2nd Maine arrived about a month before the battle, not just a couple days before. They couldn't show Andrew Tozier as part of the 2nd Maine because by the movie's time frame he was already color sergeant.
 

Redcoat

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Isn't if funny how we don't like to acknowledge the fact that all men who get honours were not necessarily good men. Andre Tozier MOH for example was not always a good man.

From Wikipedia:

Tozier, along with Lewis Cushman, who was both his half-brother and his uncle, participated in a multi-year crime spree, stealing cattle, clothing and other items across several Maine counties. On August 29, 1865, Tozier, Cushman and an accomplice robbed the clothing store of Michael Larkin in East Livermore, Maine. On April 9, 1868 in Cherryfield, Maine, the two men stole six oxen and drove them to near the state capitol of Augusta before butchering them and selling the meat.

Tozier proved to be an elusive criminal. He was charged with crimes in three different counties but was acquitted in one and had the charges dismissed in another. In 1869, however, prosecutors had enough evidence of his guilt in the clothing store robbery—including the cooperation of Cushman who implicated Tozier—that he pled guilty and was sentenced to five years at hard labor in the state prison. Shortly after he was transferred to the prison, however, Tozier was pardoned of all crimes by the Governor of Maine, who just happened to be his former commander in the 20th Maine, Joshua L. Chamberlain.

Chamberlain not only pardoned his former color sergeant, but he took him and his wife in as boarders at his home in Brunswick, Maine, and helped him to reform. While living with the Chamberlains, Tozier and his wife Lizzie had a daughter whom they named Grace after Chamberlain's daughter, then a teenager.
 

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Isn't if funny how we don't like to acknowledge the fact that all men who get honours were not necessarily good men. Andre Tozier MOH for example was not always a good man.

From Wikipedia:

Tozier, along with Lewis Cushman, who was both his half-brother and his uncle, participated in a multi-year crime spree, stealing cattle, clothing and other items across several Maine counties. On August 29, 1865, Tozier, Cushman and an accomplice robbed the clothing store of Michael Larkin in East Livermore, Maine. On April 9, 1868 in Cherryfield, Maine, the two men stole six oxen and drove them to near the state capitol of Augusta before butchering them and selling the meat.

Tozier proved to be an elusive criminal. He was charged with crimes in three different counties but was acquitted in one and had the charges dismissed in another. In 1869, however, prosecutors had enough evidence of his guilt in the clothing store robbery—including the cooperation of Cushman who implicated Tozier—that he pled guilty and was sentenced to five years at hard labor in the state prison. Shortly after he was transferred to the prison, however, Tozier was pardoned of all crimes by the Governor of Maine, who just happened to be his former commander in the 20th Maine, Joshua L. Chamberlain.

Chamberlain not only pardoned his former color sergeant, but he took him and his wife in as boarders at his home in Brunswick, Maine, and helped him to reform. While living with the Chamberlains, Tozier and his wife Lizzie had a daughter whom they named Grace after Chamberlain's daughter, then a teenager.
That's one of the more fascinating aspects of history, in my opinion. "Heroes" aren't always what they appear to be, and we tend to see what we want to see, rather than the "warts and all" picture.

Now, I'm always skeptical of using Wikipedia as a tertiary source (blame my high school teachers), but if properly sourced by primary sources, it sounds to me like there's a possible book proposal in the Andrew Tozier story. I'd love to see what documents and other evidence there are to support those claims.
 
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Redcoat

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According to Find A grave the 2oth Maines Quartermaster Lt. Alden F. Litchfield was a well known crook and Bank Robber after the war. But he is buried in Arlington.
 
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John Hartwell

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Isn't if funny how we don't like to acknowledge the fact that all men who get honours were not necessarily good men. Andre Tozier MOH for example was not always a good man.

From Wikipedia:

Tozier, along with Lewis Cushman, who was both his half-brother and his uncle, participated in a multi-year crime spree, stealing cattle, clothing and other items across several Maine counties. On August 29, 1865, Tozier, Cushman and an accomplice robbed the clothing store of Michael Larkin in East Livermore, Maine. On April 9, 1868 in Cherryfield, Maine, the two men stole six oxen and drove them to near the state capitol of Augusta before butchering them and selling the meat.

Tozier proved to be an elusive criminal. He was charged with crimes in three different counties but was acquitted in one and had the charges dismissed in another. In 1869, however, prosecutors had enough evidence of his guilt in the clothing store robbery—including the cooperation of Cushman who implicated Tozier—that he pled guilty and was sentenced to five years at hard labor in the state prison. Shortly after he was transferred to the prison, however, Tozier was pardoned of all crimes by the Governor of Maine, who just happened to be his former commander in the 20th Maine, Joshua L. Chamberlain.

Chamberlain not only pardoned his former color sergeant, but he took him and his wife in as boarders at his home in Brunswick, Maine, and helped him to reform. While living with the Chamberlains, Tozier and his wife Lizzie had a daughter whom they named Grace after Chamberlain's daughter, then a teenager.
I'd heard "hints" of that story before, but not the whole thing. A good lesson in the dangers of erecting idols.
The story's geography is a bit off, though. I doubt and oxen stolen in Cherryfield were driven to "near Augusta." The two are something over 125 miles apart.
 

Hawkeye Brehm

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According to Find A grave the 2oth Maines Quartermaster Lt. Alden F. Litchfield was a well known crook and Bank Robber after the war. But he is buried in Arlington.
Find-A-Grave needs to be properly sourced as well. I think what @JaegerRex was alluding to was how someone can be both one's half-brother and uncle. Just trying to work that one out makes my head spin.

There's "well-known" and historically documented. For instance, in my hometown I've heard it said that it's a "well-known fact" that I'm a "psycho". Now, I could certainly understand some historian 150 years from now looking at the texts and emails of my contemporaries in Thurmont and saying, "Well, they thought this guy was fruitier than a nutcake." But are there documents that prove it to be a fact? Nope.

I would like to take a look at the documentation to support the allegations (and until verified they are allegations) against Tozier. We may find that some or all of the claims in that Wikipedia post are bogus. But we can't take a tertiary source like Wikipedia or Find-A-Grave, both of which are open to whomever wishes to post something, and treat it as a historical document. It's the citations and sources which will affirm or refute the claims within.
 
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