Chamberlain Joshua Chamberlain, Little Round Top, and the Memorial That Never Was

suzenatale

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 25, 2013
In Trulock's book, in one of many locations / sources, it goes into greater detail on pages 438 and 443 how these gentlemen not only were the ones who bent the line back, but also initiated the charge - not the "textbook maneuver" based on the film. One such quote states, "there was a story among the men that Chamberlain never gave the order (to charge), but they (the men) spontaneously charged when men in Company K shouted to advance and recover some downed men (prompted by Lt. Melcher); the left wing followed when ordered by Spear after he heard the 'shout' and the whole line started to move...contrary to Chamberlain's official report (pg. 443)

I think you should read those pages again because Trulock does a great job in showing how unreliable Spear's testimony was and how it changed from what he said previously. She also shows how other members of the regiment back up Chamberlain's account.

Your account above is dizzying, company K commanded by Nichols shouted the advance, but they got the idea from Melcher?

Desjardin, by the way, recently pointed out that Melcher was behind Chamberlain.

http://www.historynet.com/broken-bond.htm

Believing Spear's word over Chamberlain's will surely get confusing, as he changed his mind so much. I looked at some of the differences here:

http://www.joshualawrencechamberlain.com/spearvspear.php
 

suzenatale

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 25, 2013
And, another tidbit of Chamberlain trivia - Chamberlain was suffering from severe malaria, fever, and diarrhea during the battle. Clearly, he needed all the help that he could muster.

You are thinking of Spear. From Desjardin's book,
IMG_1863.JPG
 

suzenatale

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 25, 2013
Yet, not to get back into this discussion again in general, I highly encourage folks to read Tom Desjardin's book, Stand Firm Ye Boys From Maine as it will enlighten a much clearer picture of what really happened in stark contrast to the film, Gettysburg. While the film Gettysburg is certain enjoyable, yes, we have to keep in mind that it was based on the written piece, The Killer Angels, which in turn is based on historical fiction - not historical fact. For instance, there was no Buster Kilrain. Private Kilrain represented the common Civil War soldier. However, many folks still to this day take the film as 'gospel' despite the facts.
Thanks for letting us know, but I think you will find the folks on this forum are more intelligent than your estimations of them.
 

History36

Private
Joined
Jul 5, 2016
I think you should read those pages again because Trulock does a great job in showing how unreliable Spear's testimony was and how it changed from what he said previously. She also shows how other members of the regiment back up Chamberlain's account.

And, I think you should re-read Trulock's account again in how even she, yes she as in Trulock, mentioned that Chamberlain's account differed with the men themselves at times. Why should Spear's account be counted as any less significant? Probably because he wasn't one of the 'stars' or key leading actors in the film Gettysburg as Jeff Daniels was, perhaps? Is that your reasoning? And, what about the men themselves? They *themselves* disputed Chamberlain just as Spear had done. Are you going to dismiss all of those men too?? So many times the common man / soldier is easily overlooked and dismissed even though they are the ones in the trenches and have a better grasp of the situation(s). Again, her (Trulock) quote states, "there was a story among the men that Chamberlain never gave the order (to charge), but they (the men) spontaneously charged when men in Company K shouted to advance and recover some downed men (prompted by Lt. Melcher); the left wing followed when ordered by Spear after he heard the 'shout' and the whole line started to move...contrary to Chamberlain's official report and Spear's report after the battle (pg. 443)." One other key component that you seem unwilling to accept is that Chamberlain's account also changed. For instance, one report states that he ordered a charge while another report states that he only ordered the bayonet. Which is it? Is it black or is white? Yes or no? So, you see that's a contradictory statement for you to make against Spear because Chamberlain's own account changed just as much, as well! And, I've personally spoken with numerous historians today who feel that following the film, Gettysburg - a lot of authors wanted to jump on the band-wagon and write about Chamberlain for the first time since his death in 1914. If the film didn't come out on the big screen, I often wonder if there would be as many books on Chamberlain as there are today. Those authors, including Trulock, decide to write because they have a high interest in their subject and therefore are prone to writing about them in a very positive light in an almost defensive / glowing perspective. However, the quote above was retrieved from the end notes much to my respect of Trulock when she could have easily left that part out of her book. And, I feel that's part of the reason why I also highly respect Dr. Rasbach. I've personally met this gentleman and he is facing a mountain of controversy for going 'against the grain' of Saint Chamberlain proponents despite what truth may be uncovered. He's a doctor and doesn't need this aggravation from another field. Yet, because he's a 'doctor' and not a university trained historian prone to showing a potential and passionate bias as some of these authors may do, he simply states the truth as they happened with a genuine sense of objectiveness. If anything, we need MORE post-revisionist books like these. For example, in doing my family genealogy, I learned that my direct line came over from Ireland and England through Jamestown, Va. in the 1620s as mere indentured servants (the first form of slavery in America). Now, I could easily and boastfully tell folks that I was directly descended from William the Conqueror himself with my head held high. I don't know about y'all, but I'd rather know and share the truth vs. making history what I want it to be with my head still held high if you get what I'm saying.

Getting back to the common soldier - are you aware of a primary source quote describing a scenario that happened during one of Bowdoin College's commencement ceremonies following the war? If not, the account goes as follows: as Chamberlain and his college colleagues walked in procession line in between the seated students, one of the students stated, "there goes the hero of Little Round top." Having heard that, Chamberlain quickly turned around and snapped, "yes, I took it and I held it!" To this day, historians still feel that Chamberlain's comment was out of place, unnecessary, and in poor-taste for the simple reason that he not only blatantly failed to appropriately acknowledge either the soldiers (who 'really' held Little Round Top), but also he did not give recognition to the commanding officers, such as Warren, *Vincent,* etc. who initially helped to place him there in the first place. Again, did Chamberlain hold the whole mountain by himself? And, with the sheer roar of battle completely engulfing them, how could just one man be heard to orchestrate a perfect textbook maneuver according to Hollywood drama? As I mentioned in a previous post, "seeing how most of the leading Union commanding officers were killed, Chamberlain was an exception to tell his experience however he wished to do because there was no other higher ranking commanding officer to dispute him who survived. And, if you look at pre-1993 film Gettysburg written pieces, most give credit to Col. Strong Vincent."

Your account above is dizzying, company K commanded by Nichols shouted the advance, but they got the idea from Melcher?[/QUOTE] If you had read Dr. Desjardin's book (among others), you would have already known that Melcher didn't 'formerly' initiate the charge (news flash, no one did) - he went forward to help aid those soldiers who were wounded (friends, brothers, fathers, etc.) and caught in the cross fire between the Alabamians and Mainers. How would anyone here feel if that was your brother, your father, your friend, your neighbor, etc. crying out to you for help? Melcher went forward to help collect those wounded and between the right and left flank, the charge practically happened on its own. Also too, the original Federal line wasn't originally where it rests today. In fact, it began down by the modern-day road that runs between the Round Tops. With each wave of Confederates, the Federal line was pushed further and further back up the hill - leaving the wounded behind. Melcher was one of many heroes, such as Spear, who helped to make the charge what we *think* it was according to the film. Plus too to keep in mind, those soldiers on the right flank and those on the left flank fought almost two different battles (the left was charged upon repeatedly in trying to protect that flank). Don't like the history? Hey, contact Dr. Desjardin and take it up with him and authors like him today conducting better research than Michael Shaara's work of historical fiction.

"Thanks for letting us know, but I think you will find the folks on this forum are more intelligent than your estimations of them." Excuse me? Where do you get such fantasies? Why even write that in the first place? Of course everyone on this forum is highly intelligent and is that the best defense / response you could come up with when someone doesn't agree with you that another Chamberlain statue should be built? The historical material was simply to help educate and to encourage others to examine perspectives other than 'Saint Chamberlain's' and to state that it's okay, truly, to consider the possibility that the film Gettysburg just maybe wasn't 100% accurate after all. And, I never dissed anyone's intelligence, but the mere fact that you and I have been talking in circles on the very same points repeatedly makes me wonder whether we could even hold an intelligent conversation at all.
 
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suzenatale

Sergeant Major
Joined
May 25, 2013
And, I think you should re-read Trulock's account again in how even she, yes she as in Trulock, mentioned that Chamberlain's account differed with the men themselves at times. Why should Spear's account be counted as any less significant? Probably because he wasn't one of the 'stars' or key leading actors in the film Gettysburg as Jeff Daniels was, perhaps? Is that your reasoning? And, what about the men themselves? They *themselves* disputed Chamberlain just as Spear had done. Are you going to dismiss all of those men too?? So many times the common man / soldier is easily overlooked and dismissed even though they are the ones in the trenches and have a better grasp of the situation(s). Again, her (Trulock) quote states, "there was a story among the men that Chamberlain never gave the order (to charge), but they (the men) spontaneously charged when men in Company K shouted to advance and recover some downed men (prompted by Lt. Melcher); the left wing followed when ordered by Spear after he heard the 'shout' and the whole line started to move...contrary to Chamberlain's official report and Spear's report after the battle (pg. 443)."

All what men am I dismissing? If you have another source other than Spear by all means produce it. Here is the page you cite from Trulock as evidence that she believed Spear's story changed and was not reliable.

IMG_1877.JPG


One other key component that you seem unwilling to accept is that Chamberlain's account also changed. For instance, one report states that he ordered a charge while another report states that he only ordered the bayonet. Which is it? Is it black or is white?

I'm not as worried about Chamberlain not being able to remember if he fully completed the order many years later as I am about someone like Spear whose statements are way more contradictory. The men remember Chamberlain completing the order so that is good enough for me. Nichols the Captain of Company K recalls,

"I say and I know what I say to be true, that instead of any hesitation on the part of Co. K. and before the completion of the order, it was anticipated by them, and when the command "Charge" was given they were already on the move"

So they did start off after hearing Bayonet, but seem to recall that Charge was actually said. Even Spear said "the Colonel ordered a charge" as Trulock points out.

Getting back to the common soldier - are you aware of a primary source quote describing a scenario that happened during one of Bowdoin College's commencement ceremonies following the war? If not, the account goes as follows: as Chamberlain and his college colleagues walked in procession line in between the seated students, one of the students stated, "there goes the hero of Little Round top." Having heard that, Chamberlain quickly turned around and snapped, "yes, I took it and I held it!" To this day, historians still feel that Chamberlain's comment was out of place, unnecessary, and in poor-taste for the simple reason that he not only blatantly failed to appropriately acknowledge either the soldiers (who 'really' held Little Round Top), but also he did not give recognition to the commanding officers, such as Warren, *Vincent,* etc. who initially helped to place him there in the first place. Again, did Chamberlain hold the whole mountain by himself? And, with the sheer roar of battle completely engulfing them, how could just one man be heard to orchestrate a perfect textbook maneuver according to Hollywood drama? As I mentioned in a previous post, "seeing how most of the leading Union commanding officers were killed, Chamberlain was an exception to tell his experience however he wished to do because there was no other higher ranking commanding officer to dispute him who survived. And, if you look at pre-1993 film Gettysburg written pieces, most give credit to Col. Strong Vincent."

Spear again was the one that said that. Spear probably shouldn't have made flattering speeches to the students about Chamberlain if he didn't want him getting so much attention. He could have spent his time talking about other Bowdoin alums.

Your account above is dizzying, company K commanded by Nichols shouted the advance, but they got the idea from Melcher? If you had read Dr. Desjardin's book (among others), you would have already known that Melcher didn't 'formerly' initiate the charge (news flash, no one did) - he went forward to help aid those soldiers who were wounded (friends, brothers, fathers, etc.) and caught in the cross fire between the Alabamians and Mainers. How would anyone here feel if that was your brother, your father, your friend, your neighbor, etc. crying out to you for help? Melcher went forward to help collect those wounded and between the right and left flank, the charge practically happened on its own. Also too, the original Federal line wasn't originally where it rests today. In fact, it began down by the modern-day road that runs between the Round Tops. With each wave of Confederates, the Federal line was pushed further and further back up the hill - leaving the wounded behind. Melcher was one of many heroes, such as Spear, who helped to make the charge what we *think* it was according to the film. Plus too to keep in mind, those soldiers on the right flank and those on the left flank fought almost two different battles (the left was charged upon repeatedly in trying to protect that flank). Don't like the history? Hey, contact Dr. Desjardin and take it up with him and authors like him today conducting better research than Michael Shaara's work of historical fiction.

You keep quoting Spear who said some men in company K started the charge, but Melcher was not in company K.
I quoted Nichols from Company K above.
No one says the charge happened on its own other than Spear, Melcher and Nichols say Chamberlain gave the order.
Melcher states,
"Colonel Chamberlain gave the order to "fix bayonets," and almost before he could say "charge!" the regiment leaped down the hill and closed in with the foe, whom we found behind every rock and tree."


"Thanks for letting us know, but I think you will find the folks on this forum are more intelligent than your estimations of them." Excuse me? Where do you get such fantasies? Why even write that in the first place? Of course everyone on this forum is highly intelligent and is that the best defense / response you could come up with when someone doesn't agree with you that another Chamberlain statue should be built? The historical material was simply to help educate and to encourage others to examine perspectives other than 'Saint Chamberlain's' and to state that it's okay, truly, to consider the possibility that the film Gettysburg just maybe wasn't 100% accurate after all. And, I never dissed anyone's intelligence, but the mere fact that you and I have been talking in circles on the very same points repeatedly makes me wonder whether we could even hold an intelligent conversation at all.

No one here is using the film to argue a point. But yes we are indeed talking in circles.
 

WJC

Major General
Judge Adv. Genl.
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
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I have been pestering the folks at Gettysburg National Park to dig up information on the proposed Chamberlain monument for use on my website, http://www.joshualawrencechamberlain.com/monumentgettysburg.php
The thing that most interested me was evidence that Chamberlain did not want the statue to be built. The new issue of "From the Fields of Gettysburg" discusses the evidence they have turned up.

"A few months ago, prior to the arrival of the frigid weather we are now enjoying, I had the pleasure of bringing a group of visitors around Little Round Top. It was a fairly predictable tour. We visited the requisite sites as we made our way south along the crest of the hill, namely the Gouverneur Warren statue, Hazlett’s Battery and the 44th and 140thNew York Monuments. We roughly followed the progress of the battle on July 2nd. It was a good forty-five minutes before we made our way into the trees and down a tail-like ridge known as “Vincent’s Spur” which runs across the southern face of Little Round Top. Our final stop of the program was at the 20th Maine Monument, which is situated on a shelf of rocks well below the summit and nearly on its reverse slope.....​
keep reading at:
http://npsgnmp.wordpress.com/2014/0...le-round-top-and-the-memorial-that-never-was/
Thanks for posting this.
I was unaware that an attempt had been made to honor Chamberlain with his own monument. I am one of those who was first introduced to him by John J. Pullen's The Twentieth Maine.
Somehow I think things worked out for the best....
 
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