20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment

The 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment was a volunteer regiment of the United States Army (Union Army) during the American Civil War (1861-1865), most famous for its defense of Little Round Top at the Battle of Gettysburg in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 1-3, 1863. The 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard and the United States Army today carries on the lineage and traditions of the 20th Maine.

20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Flag of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Flag of the 20th Maine
ActiveAugust 20, 1862 – July 16, 1865
Country United States
EngagementsAmerican Civil War (1861-1865)
Col. Adelbert Ames
Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Maj. Ellis Spear
20th Maine 1889 Reunion at Gettsburg
1889 reunion veterans of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. General Joshua L. Chamberlain, the officer who commanded them in battle, seated at center right, bracketed by the Maltese Cross banner of the V Corps (5th) and the unit's regimental flag. Left is a monument to the unit recently erected by its veterans. Black and white photograph


The 20th Maine was organized in the state of Maine and mustered into Federal service on August 29, 1862, with Col. Adelbert Ames as its commander. It was assigned to the Army of the Potomac in the 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps, where it would remain until mustered out on July 16, 1865. At that time, the brigade also consisted of the 16th Michigan, the 12th, 17th, and 44th New York, 83rd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry regiments, and a Michigan company of sharpshooters.

Combat history

Prior to their notable actions at Gettysburg in July 1863, the regiment was held in reserve at Antietam in September 1862, was among those forced to remain overnight within sight of the Confederate lines at Fredericksburg in December 1862, forcing the regiment's Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain to shield himself with a dead man. The unit was unable to participate in the Battle of Chancellorsville in April-May 1863, due to a quarantine prompted by a tainted smallpox vaccine that had been issued to the unit's soldiers.[1] On May 20, 1863, Colonel Ames was promoted and was succeeded as colonel and commander of the regiment by Lt. Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain,[2] who had been offered and declined leadership of the unit at the time it was formed.[3]

Gettysburg and Little Round Top

Left flank
The 20th Maine's left flank marker on the Gettysburg battlefield.
20th Maine Monument, Little Round Top, Gettysburg Battlefield, Pennsylvania
Regimental monument at the center of their lines on Little Round Top hill.

The most notable battle was the regiment's decisive role on July 2, 1863, in the Battle of Gettysburg at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where it was stationed on Little Round Top hill at the extreme left of the Union line. When the regiment came under heavy attack from the Confederate 15th and 47th Alabama regiments (part of the division led by Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood), the 20th Maine ran low on ammunition after one and a half hours of continuous fighting; it responded to the sight of rebel infantry forming again for yet another push up the slope at them by instead suddenly charging downhill with fixed bayonets, surprising and scattering the Confederates, thus ending the attack on the hill and the attempt to flank the hill position and move around the south end of the Federal "fishhook". The 20th Maine and the adjacent 83rd Pennsylvania together captured many men from both Alabama regiments (including Lt. Col. Michael Bulger, commander of the 47th),[4] as well as several other men of the 4th Alabama and 4th and 5th Texas regiments of the same division. Had the 20th Maine retreated from the hill, the entire Union line would have been flanked, endangering and hurting other Union regiments in the vicinity.

Later War

Later actions in which the regiment participated included Second Rappahannock Station, Mine Run, The Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, the Siege of Petersburg, Peebles's Farm, Lewis's Farm/Quaker Road, White Oak Road, Five Forks, and Appomattox Court House.


The 20th Maine marched from Appomattox, Virginia, on May 2, reaching the national capital at Washington, D.C., on May 12, where the remaining original members were mustered out of service on June 4, 1865, with the remainder of the regiment leaving the Federal service on July 16.

The 20th Maine had a total wartime enrollment of 1,621 men (including initial muster, replacements, and drafts), losing 147 dead from combat, 146 dead from disease, 381 wounded, and 15 held in Confederate prisons.

Cultural References

The participation of the 20th Maine in the Battle of Fredericksburg is depicted in the 2003 feature film "Gods And Generals" (prequel movie to 1993's Gettysburg based on Michael Shaara's son Jeff Shaara's historical novel of the same name)

The regiment's downhill charge during the Battle of Gettysburg is depicted in the 1974 historical novels The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize in fiction) and Courage on Little Round Top, and was subsequently an important scene in the feature epic movie made 18 years later, Gettysburg in 1993.

The 20th Maine was also the subject of "Ballad of the 20th of Maine", a song by the Maine band "Ghost of Paul Revere;" and the song "Dixieland" by "Steve Earle and the Del McCoury Band."[5]

See also


  1. ^ Desjardin, p. 3.
  2. ^ Trulock, p. 114
  3. ^ Trulock, p. 12
  4. ^ Trulock, p.149
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuvORvF04zQ


  • Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence (1994). Bayonet! Forward: My Civil War Reminiscences. Gettysburg, PA: Stan Clark Military Books. ISBN 1-879664-21-6.
  • Desjardin, Thomas, A. (1995). Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign. Gettysburg, PA: Thomas Publications. ISBN 1-57747-034-6.
  • Trulock, Alice Rains (2001). In the Hands of Providence: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the American Civil War. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-2020-2.
  • Styple, William B., ed. (1994). With a Flash of his Sword: The Writings of Maj. Holman S. Melcher, 20th Maine Infantry. Kearny, NJ: Belle Grove Publishing. ISBN 1-883926-00-9.

Further reading

  • Pullen, John J. The Twentieth Maine: A Volunteer Regiment in the Civil War. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1957. OCLC 475760.

External links

133rd Engineer Battalion

The 133rd Engineer Battalion is a component of the Maine Army National Guard and the United States Army. The organization is the oldest in the Maine Guard and is one of the largest organizations in the state. The battalion has responded to natural disasters at home as well as military actions overseas. The current battalion has the capacity to execute a variety of Army Engineer missions, from horizontal construction, vertical construction, combat engineer missions, and surveying. The battalion has two horizontal companies, one vertical company, one combat engineer company, a forward support company, a survey and design detachment, and a headquarters company.

2nd Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment

The 2nd Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment (also known as the Second Maine Regiment, Second Maine Infantry, or The Bangor Regiment) was a Union Army unit during the American Civil War. It was mustered in Bangor, Maine, for two years' service on May 28, 1861, and mustered out in the same place on June 9, 1863.

Five of the ten companies of the regiment were raised in Bangor, including a Gymnasium Company, the Grattan Guards, and a company of Ex-Tigers (firemen). Other companies were from Castine, Milo, and Old Town.The 2nd Maine was the first Civil War regiment to march out of the state, and was greeted with accolades by civilians as it made its way to Washington, D.C. It engaged in "eleven bloody and hard-fought battles" including the First Battle of Bull Run, where it was the last regiment to leave the field, and Fredericksburg, where it took its greatest number of casualties.When the regiment was mustered out in Bangor, huge crowds gathered to celebrate its return on Broadway, and a ceremony was held at Norumbega Hall downtown. Those soldiers who had enlisted for three years, rather than two, were transferred to the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment under protest.

Abner O. Shaw

Abner Ormiel Shaw (February 16, 1837 – January 27, 1934) was an American physician from Maine who served in the Civil War with the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Andrew J. Tozier

Andrew Jackson Tozier Sr. (February 11, 1838 – March 28, 1910) was a first sergeant in the 2nd Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment and later the color-bearer for the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his service at the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War.

Colonel (United States)

In the United States Army, Marine Corps, and Air Force, colonel () is the most senior field grade military officer rank, immediately above the rank of lieutenant colonel and immediately below the rank of brigadier general. It is equivalent to the naval rank of captain in the other uniformed services. The pay grade for colonel is O-6.

The insignia of the rank of colonel, as seen on the right, is worn on the officer's left side (a mirror-image version is worn on the right side, such that the eagle always faces forward to the wearer's front; the left-side version is also worn centered on fatigue caps, helmets, Army ACU & ECWCS breasts, inter alia). By law, a colonel must have 22 years of service and a minimum of three years of service as a lieutenant colonel before being promoted.

Ellis Spear

Ellis Spear (October 15, 1834 – April 3, 1917) was an officer in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the Union Army during the American Civil War. On April 10, 1866, the United States Senate confirmed President Andrew Johnson's February 24, 1866 nomination of Spear for appointment to the grade of brevet brigadier general to rank from April 9, 1865. He was United States Commissioner of Patents in 1877-1878.

Fanny Chamberlain

Frances Chamberlain redirects here. For the male version of the name, see Francis Chamberlain (disambiguation). For the playwright born Frances Chamberlaine, see Frances Sheridan.

Frances Caroline "Fanny" Chamberlain, née Adams (August 12, 1825 – October 18, 1905) was the wife of Joshua Chamberlain.

Flag of Maine

The flag of the state of Maine features the state coat of arms on a blue field. In the center of the shield, a moose rests under a tall pine tree. A farmer and seaman represent the traditional reliance on agriculture and the sea by the state. The North Star represents the state motto: Dirigo ("I Lead").

The design commonly used omits the circular ring prescribed by Maine Law as a part of the Maine Arms and moves the "Sea and Forest Scene" from the outside of the shield to the inside of the shield. There are no known flags of the State that conform to the official description.

There are no official colors for the coat of arms, so variations in coloration can be seen in flags from different manufacturers. The blue field, however, is specified to be the same blue as in the flag of the United States. According to the official description, the flag should have a fringe of yellow silk and should have a blue and white silk cord attached at the spearhead. These embellishments are very rarely observed.

The law establishing the flag was enacted on February 23, 1707, and was modeled after flags used in the Civil War:

§206. State flag. The flag to be known as the official flag of the State shall be of blue, of the same color as the blue field in the flag of the United States, and of the following dimensions and designs; to wit, the length or height of the staff to be 9 feet, including brass spearhead and ferrule; the fly of said flag to be 15 feet 6 inches, and to be 14 feet 42 inches on the staff; in the center of the flag there shall be embroidered in silk on both sides of the flag the coat of arms of the State, in proportionate size; the edges to be trimmed with knotted fringe of yellow silk, 2 1/2 inches wide; a cord, with tassels, to be attached to the staff at the spearhead, to be 8 feet 6 inches long and composed of white and blue silk strands. A flag made in accordance with the description given in this section shall be kept in the office of the Adjutant General as a model.”Maine is one of 26 US states that use a blue flag with the State Arms or Seal on them.

The North American Vexillological Association conducted a survey in 2001 that ranked Maine's current flag as one of the worst in design. Amongst the 72 U.S. state, U.S. territorial and Canadian provincial flags, Maine's flag ranked 60th (13th worst). NAVA criticized the unoriginality of "[state] seal on blue bed-sheet" design, which is currently used by over half of the flags of U.S. states.

Henry C. Merriam

Henry Clay Merriam (November 13, 1837 – November 12, 1912) was a United States Army general. He received the United States military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions as a Union officer in command of African American troops during the American Civil War. He later served in various Indian Wars throughout the western United States and commanded the 7th Infantry Regiment. After being promoted to brigadier general, he took on a training and supply role during the Philippine–American War.

Holman Melcher

Holman Staples Melcher (; born June 30, 1841 – June 25, 1905) was an American military officer, businessman, and politician active during the Reconstruction Era. Melcher, along with a faction of historians and soldiers, controversially contend that he led the downhill bayonet charge of Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. Aside from his feats during the American Civil War, he served two one-year terms as the Mayor of Portland, Maine from 1889 to 1890.

He first began his formal military career in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which was mustered in and equipped at Camp Mason in August 1862. The regiment was assigned to the V Corps of the Army of the Potomac, and first engaged in combat at the Battle of Shepherdstown. During the Battle of Antietam, the 20th Maine was held in reserve on a hill near the Pry Farm.

During the Battle of the Wilderness, Melcher lead a small company of seventeen men through a forest along the Orange Turnpike needed for alignment with the adjoining company. After being surrounded he ordered his men to lay on the ground and start shooting; they captured thirty Confederates and sustained only minor injuries.His involvement in the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House in Virginia, resulted in him being promoted and seriously injured. While engaging in the war, he was promoted three different times; starting with First Lieutenant in 1863, Captain in 1864 and Brevet Major at Spotsylvania. He was in three different companies during the war, later served on the division staff and was mustered out on July 16, 1865.

Joshua Chamberlain

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (born Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain, September 8, 1828 – February 24, 1914) was an American college professor from the State of Maine, who volunteered during the American Civil War to join the Union Army. He became a highly respected and decorated Union officer, reaching the rank of brigadier general (and brevet major general). He is best known for his gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg, for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Chamberlain was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment in 1862 and fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg. He became commander of the regiment in June 1863. On July 2, during the Battle of Gettysburg, Chamberlain's regiment occupied the extreme left of the Union lines at Little Round Top. Chamberlain's men withstood repeated assaults from the 15th Regiment Alabama Infantry and finally drove the Confederates away with a downhill bayonet charge. Chamberlain was severely wounded while commanding a brigade during the Second Battle of Petersburg in June 1864, and was given what was intended to be a deathbed promotion to brigadier general. In April 1865, he fought at the Battle of Five Forks and was given the honor of commanding the Union troops at the surrender ceremony for the infantry of Robert E. Lee's Army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia.

After the war, he entered politics as a Republican and served four one-year terms of office as the 32nd Governor of Maine. He served on the faculty, and as president, of his alma mater, Bowdoin College. He died in 1914 at age 85 due to complications from the wound that he received at Petersburg.

List of Maine Civil War units

List of military units raised by the state of Maine during the American Civil War.

List of mayors of Portland, Maine

The Mayor of Portland is the official head of the city of Portland, Maine, United States, as stipulated in the Charter of the City of Portland. This article is a listing of past (and present) Mayors of Portland.

Before 1923, the city's leader was known as the mayor. From 1923 to 1969, the position was named "Chairman of the City Council." In 1969, the "Mayor" title was reinstated, but the office continued to be held by the leader of the city council, chosen by a vote of its members. In 2011, the city returned to the practice of popularly electing a mayor for the first time since 1923.

This is a list of mayors of Portland, Maine. This information is obtained from the website of the city council.

Little Round Top

Little Round Top is the smaller of two rocky hills south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania—the companion to the adjacent, taller hill named Big Round Top. It was the site of an unsuccessful assault by Confederate troops against the Union left flank on July 2, 1863, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

Considered by some historians to be the key point in the Union Army's defensive line that day, Little Round Top was defended successfully by the brigade of Col. Strong Vincent. The 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, commanded by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, fought the most famous engagement there, culminating in a dramatic downhill bayonet charge that is one of the most well-known actions at Gettysburg and in the American Civil War.

Maine in the American Civil War

As a fervently abolitionist and strongly Republican state, Maine contributed a higher proportion of its citizens to the Union armies than any other, as well as supplying extensive equipment and stores. Although no land battles were fought in Maine, the Battle of Portland Harbor (1863) saw a southern raiding party thwarted in its attempt to capture a revenue cutter.

Abraham Lincoln chose Maine's Hannibal Hamlin as his first Vice President. The future General Joshua L. Chamberlain and the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment played a key role at the Battle of Gettysburg, and the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment lost more men in a single charge during the Siege of Petersburg than any Union regiment in the war.

Spear (surname)

Spear is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Albert Spear (1852–1929), justice on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court and President of the Maine Senate

Allan Spear (1937–2008), American politician and educator from Minnesota

Bernard Spear (1919–2003), English actor

Bob Spear (1920–2014), founding director of the Birds of Vermont Museum, a longtime naturalist, birdwatcher and master woodcarver

Burning Spear (born 1945), Jamaican roots rock reggae artist

Duston Spear, native of Virginia, is an artist and activist residing in New York City

Ellis Spear (1834–1917), officer in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment who rose to the rank of general during the American Civil War

Eric Spear (1908–1966), English composer of film music

Frank Spear (born 1953), Founder and Director of Spear Education

Harry Spear (1921–2006), US child actor

John Murray Spear (1804–1887), Spiritualist preacher

John Spear (1848–1921), British Liberal Unionist politician

Joseph Spear (d. 1837), British naval officer

Laurinda Hope Spear (born 1950), American architect and landscape architect

Lawrence York Spear (1870–1950), American naval officer and businessman

Mary Spear (1913–2006), English cricketer

Matt Spear (born 1970), American soccer coach

Mónica Spear (1984–2014), Miss Venezuela 2004

Percival Spear (1901–1982), English historian

Richard E. Spear (born 1940), American art historian and professor

Roberta Spear (1948–2003), American poet

Roger Ruskin Spear (born 1943), founding member of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

Ruskin Spear (1911–1990), British artist

Samuel P. Spear (1815–1875), American soldier in the Seminole, Mexican–American War, and American Civil Wars

Terry Spear, award-winning American author

Timothy L. Spear, Democratic member of the North Carolina General Assembly

Tony Spear, American space exploration project manager

Walter Eric Spear (1921–2008), German physicist

William T. Spear (1834–1913), U.S. Republican politician

Thomas Chamberlain (soldier)

Thomas Davee Chamberlain (April 29, 1841 – August 12, 1896) was the Lieutenant Colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the American Civil War, the brother of Union general Joshua L. Chamberlain, the Colonel of the 20th Maine Infantry.

Walter Goodale Morrill

Walter Goodale Morrill (November 13, 1840 – March 3, 1935) was a Union Army officer in the American Civil War and a recipient of the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions at the Second Battle of Rappahannock Station in November 1863. Also, Morrill's earlier actions in July 1863 at Gettysburg are considered essential for the famous Union victory on Little Round Top.

Morrill was raised in Williamsburg, Maine. In 1861 the age of 20, he enlisted as a sergeant in Company A, 6th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. A year later he was commissioned as an officer in Company B, 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He was promoted several times, ultimately to lieutenant colonel. He mustered out on June 4, 1865. His Medal of Honor citation states:

At Rappahannock Station, Va., November 7, 1863, this officer, then captain in the Twentieth Maine Volunteers, and on duty with skirmishers in advance of the Fifth corps, learning that an assault was to be made on the enemy's fortifications by troops of the Sixth corps, those present called for volunteers from his own command to unite with the storming party. With those volunteers, some fifty in number, he joined the Sixth Maine regiment and charged it. The enemy's works were carried with bayonet, four guns, eight battle-flags, and 1,300 men were captured, and Captain Morrill was specially mentioned in the official reports of the Corps and Division commanders.

Of his action at Little Round Top, Captain Howard L. Prince, former 20th Maine quartermaster-sergeant, considered Captain Morrill the coolest man in the regiment — a man who had no superior on the skirmish line. Morrill led his unit at the decisive point of the bayonet charge without orders. His contingent created the impression of two regiments rushing through the woods, though it consisted only of 44 Company B soldiers and 14 U.S. Sharpshooters. It was Morrill's group of Union soldiers that Confederate Captain William C. Oates believed caused panic in his Confederate soldiers. Without Morrill's up-front leadership, Joshua Chamberlain's famous bayonet attack, often credited for saving Little Round Top and Gettysburg from defeat, probably would have been spoiled and pushed back by Oates men.

During their retreat, the Confederates were subjected to a volley of rifle fire from Company B of the 20th Maine, commanded by Morrill, and a few of the 2nd U.S. Sharpshooters, who had been placed by Chamberlain behind a stone wall 150 yards to the east, hoping to guard against an envelopment. This group, who had been hidden from sight, caused considerable confusion in the Confederate ranks.Of Little Round Top, Captain Oats said,

His [Col. Chamberlain's] skill and persistency and the great bravery of his men saved Little Round Top and the Army of the Potomac from defeat.

[If one more Confederate regiment had stormed the far left of the Army of the Potomac with the 15th Alabama,] "... we would have completely turned the flank and have won Little Round Top, which would have forced Meade's whole left wing to retire." Oats concluded that "great events sometimes turn on comparatively small affairs."

From Colonel Chamberlain's after action report:: "Captain Morrill with his skirmishers (send out from my left flank), with some dozen or fifteen of the U.S. Sharpshooters who had put themselves under his (Morrill's) direction, fell upon the enemy as they were breaking, and by his demonstrations, as well as his well-directed fire, added much to the effect of the [bayonet] charge ... that cleared the front of nearly our entire brigade."Morrill led troops in many other battles, including at Appomattox, and became a prominent business man in Pittsfield ME after the war.

Confederate commanders
Union commanders
Army of the Potomac
(order of battle)
Army of N. Virginia
(order of battle)
Campaign geography

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.