The Grand Old Man of Maine

Selected Letters of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, 1865-1914

Edited by Jeremiah E. Goulka

Foreword by James M. McPherson

384 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 9 illus., 5 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1470-0
    Published: March 2014
  • eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-7585-8
    Published: October 2005

Civil War America

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Best known as the hero of Little Round Top at Gettysburg and the commanding officer of the troops who accepted the Confederates' surrender at Appomattox, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914) has become one of the most famous and most studied figures of Civil War history. After the war, he went on to serve as governor of Maine and president of Bowdoin College. The first collection of his postwar letters, this book offers important insights for understanding Chamberlain's later years and his place in chronicling the war.

The letters included here reveal Chamberlain's perspective on military events at Gettysburg, Five Forks, and Appomattox, and on the planning of ceremonies to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Gettysburg. As Jeremiah Goulka points out in his introduction, the letters also shed light on Chamberlain's views on politics, race relations, and education, and they expose some of the personal difficulties he faced late in life. On a broader scale, Chamberlain's correspondence contributes to a better understanding of the influence of Civil War veterans on American life and the impact of the war on veterans themselves. It also says much about state and national politics (including the politics of pensions), family roles and relationships, and ideas of masculinity in Victorian America.

About the Author

Jeremiah Goulka is a constitutional lawyer in Washington, D.C.

Reviews

"Jeremiah Goulka should be commended for his work in bringing together Chamberlain's postwar correspondence. His words serve as a reminder that the experience of war remained with the veterans long afer the guns fell silent."--Civil War History

"Goulka deserves thanks . . . for giving us a deeper understanding of a genuine American hero."--Civil War News

"Remarkable. . . . The Grand Old Man of Maine presents a rich portrait of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. . . . Artfully piecing together a deep selection of his postwar letters."--Washington Times

"Goulka's introduction and the foreword supplied by James M. McPherson are the best summary of Chamberlain's life and legend I have read."--Bangor Daily News

"Goulka has compiled this selection of letters not only to chronicle Chamberlain's deeds but also to reveal the depths of feeling, the commitment to honor, and the obsession for truth that resided in this remarkable man who suffered in almost constant pain from war wounds."--Virginia Quarterly Review

"Nowhere can the complexity of a man be ascertained more fully than in the body of his correspondence. . . . Goulka's introduction offers the reader the background needed to appreciate the meaning and motive of Chamberlain's letters."--York County [Maine] Coast Star