I have notes to blog from now to the end of the year. The topics will be random and varied.
Last spring, I finished an outstanding book by Willard M. Wallace called, "Soul of the Lion", a biography of the stellar Civil War hero, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.
That book propelled Joshua Chamberlain near the top of my all time favorite heroes!
And it is what we are missing in our culture today- a man's man with an impeccable education, a love of literature and learning, but steely tough in morality and justice. He was a man rooted in his faith with such a sturdiness that he never wavered in intensity or purpose, regardless of circumstances. He faced fear and opposition with aggression and he produced a great harvest of progress over the span of his long life.
He was unique in that he could adapt to the climate- cool as an administrator and educator but a fiery, risk taker in battle.
So what follows are notes and quotes from this remarkable hero of our country:
All-american boyhood- barn chores, wood cutting, plowing, planting- growing up in 19th century America the farm is a never ending tyrant. But he was close enough to Bangor that ship building and the visions of adventure were burned in his heart as well. His father taught him to fight with a broadsword, but he also learned to love music and sang in the choir. On top of all this, he was studious in the classroom- a military academy- where he learned Latin and French, as he practiced military drill.
His mother wanted him to be a minister, his father wanted him at West Point. MOM WON... for a while.
He went to Bowdoin College- 1st rank Greek- 1st honors French- received accolades for astronomy, math, chemistry, chosen to present orations at the Spring Exhibition, won 2nd prize his senior year for English composition- elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He joined two literary societies and taught Sunday School while leading the choir at a local church.
He entered Bangor Theological Seminary in the fall of 1852. He taught logic and natural theology. He was noted for having a fine sonorous singing voice. He was appointed professor of modern languages, filling a position that had once been held by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
He was extolled as an outstanding teacher. He held strong educational philosophies that were grounded in strong standards, but understood that teacher's needed to have a type of relationship with the students that allowed for implementing techniques which piqued their interest and motivations.
His views were out of step with most of his contemporaries, so he 'found himself walking a pretty lonely path among a distinguished faculty'.
The unexpected change came about from the changing conditions in the nation. He opposed slavery on Biblical principles and denounced the South's withdrawal as harmful to the prosperity and security of the Union. Again, most of the faculty remained quiet and neutral regarding these issues- but Chamberlain could not shake them- it effected him personally.
The people around him were more than shocked when he began to speak of entering into service. The Bowdoin College trustees moved heaven and earth to keep him and dissuade his decision.
They offered him a 2 year leave of absence in August of 1862 to travel and study in Europe at the college's expense. They felt that they could move him from the source of the conflict, temper his strong convictions, and keep their beloved teacher safe from the harms of impending war.
It was a strong temptation. Chamberlain tentatively accepted the more than generous offer- but his conscience soon took over and remained too strong.
When he announced his enlistment to defend the Union, he received abnormally harsh criticism from almost all at Bowdoin.
Adjunct General Hodson recommended him for service: "A gentleman of the highest moral, intellectual, and literary worth." He was offered a position as colonel, but turned it down. Chamberlain wanted to enter service in a subordinate position.
On August 8, 1862 Chamberlain was granted a commission as Lieutenant Colonel of the new 20th Regiment Infantry of Massachusetts.
"Thus began the active military career of one of the most remarkable officers and one of the hardest fighters to ever serve in any American army." (pg 36).
I will post more at another time. But my prayer is that we are still producing these types of men today.