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Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is Born

Today in Masonic History Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain is born in 1828.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was an American soldier, politician and educator.

Chamberlain was born on September 8th, 1828 in Brewer, Maine. He was born Lawrence Joshua Chamberlain. As a child he suffered from a stutter and was embarrassed often when he had to speak publicly. His mother wanted him to become a clergyman and his father wanted him to enter the military. His stutter made either a frightening prospect. Eventually he got a local tutor and was able to get into Bowdoin College where he mastered 9 languages which he spoke fluently, in addition to English. At Bowdoin he met people who influenced his life. This included Harriet Beecher Stowe who was the abolitionist who wrote the novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. He graduated in 1852.

After a brief education in the Bangor Theological Seminary Chamberlain returned to Bowdoin College as a professor. He began his career as a professor of rhetoric. He went on to teach the entire curriculum with the exception of science and mathematics.

When the American Civil War broke out Chamberlain wanted to enlist to serve in the military. He encouraged his students to follow their hearts and serve in the military. He eventually was able to get a two year leave of absence, he claimed to study in Europe. Instead he enlisted in the army to serve during the Civil War. During the Civil War he was wounded several times and had his horse shot out from underneath him on six different occasions. His most notable battle was during the Battle of Gettysburg, where as a colonel he led the 20th Maine into battle against the Confederate forces. With resources running low he and his men were able to repel the Confederate forces until reinforcements could come to their aid.

Chamberlain's most notable wound came near the end of the war at the battle on Quaker Road. It was there he gained the nickname of Bloody Chamberlain. He was shot in the chest where he was carrying a framed picture of his wife. The bullet was slowed by the frame and a bible he had in the same pocket. The bullet traveled around his body along a rib and exited out of his back. To the outside observer it appeared he had been shot in the chest and continued to shout orders to the surprise of all.

Chamberlain was also tasked with leading the Confederate soldiers who surrendered at the Appomattox Courthouse. Without orders he ordered his own men to come to attention along the parade route to the surrender and as the Confederate soldiers passed he ordered his men to go to "carry arms" to salute the Confederate soldiers. There were many Unionists who did not approve of this action. Most felt it was the honorable thing to do to salute the Confederate soldiers and their efforts during the war.

After the war, Chamberlain returned to Maine where he was elected Governor to four consecutive one year terms.

Chamberlain passed away from complications later in life due to the many wounds he received during his service in the Civil War. He lived with the wounds until he was the age of 85, passing away on February 24th, 1914.

Chamberlain was a member of United Lodge No. 8 in Brunswick, Maine.

This article provided by Brother Eric C. Steele.