In response to FM:
I did not say or imply that Chamberlain was running for public office in 1863. In fact, i specifically pointed out that officers and men of the 20th Maine only began to question Chamberlain's version of events after he had already run for and been elected to the office of Governor of Maine. However, he did enter that office in 1867, and as a Republican when Republicans controlled the White House and the Congress, and when Republicans wielded almost all the political influence in the country north of the Ohio River.
As for the citation for the Medal of Honor, I have not claimed that it was taken from the report which Chamberlain wrote on July 6th. Below is the full text of the citation, from The United States Army Center for Military History
Rank and organization: Colonel, 20th Maine Infantry. Place and date: At Gettysburg, Pa., 2 July 1863. Entered service at: Brunswick, Maine. Born: 8 September 1828, Brewer Maine. Date of issue: 11 August 1893. Citation: Daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on the Great Round Top.
Note that the award was issued in 1893, after the controversy between Chamberlain and some of his officers and men, and Lieutenant Melcher (whose company had advanced bayonets to recover their wounded) and some the officers and men had already grown hot and had been much debated publicly. It doesn't hurt to be the Governor of a state, however, when such matters come up for consideration, especially a Republican governor who is to be awarded a citation by a Republican Congress.
The standard for the citation of this award has always seemed to be rather lower for officers than for enlisted men. I would point out that Colonel Vincent took the initiative to place his brigade on Little Round Top, and the it was Colonel Vincent who placed the regiments. However, the inferential evidence is that the 20th Maine was on the left simply as a result of the order in which the regiments of Vincent's brigade marched from the assembly area. (Your claim that the 20th Maine was the "advance" regiment is false, it was one of four regiments in a line circling the summit of Little Round Top. There was no "advance regiment.") It was Chamberlain's duty to have held the position to which his regiment was assigned, and i find it rather difficult to see that as having been "above and beyond the call of duty," rather, it was the whole of his duty. The question then turns on whether or not Chamberlain took the initiative to order a bayonet attack. Although regiments commonly "advanced bayonets" in situations such as that which occurred on July 2nd--recovering wounded--and although the best trained regiments would automatically advance bayonets if given the order "repel cavalry," it was uncommon for Americans to resort to the bayonet in any of our wars, other than during the Revolution. The only other two incidents of which i know in which a regiment was cited for "heroic" behavior in such a circumstance was when the 11th Indiana Regiment of United States Volunteer Infantry at Murfreesboro in Tennessee formed line and fixed bayonet on the order "repel cavalry." Old Joe Wheeler had gotten around the flank Rosecrans army and got among the trains. The 11th Indiana were George Thomas' field police, and they behaved with extraordinary courage and discipline throughout the war, but none of them got the Medal of Honor. Of course, George Thomas as a Virginian and a Democrat, which goes a long way to explain why he has garnered less attention than someone such as Chamberlain. The other incident was Francis Barlow's 61st New York Regiment of United States Volunteer Infantry, which i will discuss later.
Lieutenant Melcher claimed that he had asked for permission to advance bayonets to recover the wounded, and the companies flanking him responded spontaneously when they saw his company advancing. The question of Chamberlain's "heroism" hinges upon whether or not he in fact ordered, and lead
the charge. Chamberlain's own accounts, especially in later years when the controversy with the officers and men of the 20th Maine and with Colonel Oates of the 15th Alabama raged vary considerably. It is worth noting, though, that neither Chamberlain nor any of his officers ever claimed that he lead the charge.
Arthur MacArthur, the father of Douglas MacArthur, was the adjutant of the 24th Wisconsin Regiment of United States Volunteers, and he was cited for the Medal of Honor, which was not issued until 1891, for his actions at the battle of Missionary Ridge, a few months after Gettysburg. His citation reads (from the same source as above):
Rank and organization: First Lieutenant, and Adjutant, 24th Wisconsin Infantry. Place and date: At Missionary Ridge, Tenn., 25 November 1863. Entered service at: Milwaukee, Wis. Birth: Springfield, Mass. Date of issue: 30 June 1890. Citation: Seized the colors of his regiment at a critical moment and planted them on the captured works on the crest of Missionary Ridge.
There's quite a difference between holding your position, and then ordering advance bayonets (if Chamberlain ever actually did issue such an order, which is the matter disputed by the participants), and actually carrying your regiment's colors into the enemy's works.
As i have noted, the standard for "above and beyond the call of duty" is apparently lower for officer's than it is for enlisted men. It is appalling to see the number of men awarded the Medal of Honor for the Veracruz expedition in 1913, when we occupied the city and seized the custom's house (damned Mexicans). Douglas MacArthur hoped to get a Medal of Honor for a little foray he made from the city in 1913, but it was denied because he had exceeded his instructions. He did eventually get the award though, for his behavior in the Philippines:
Rank and organization: General, U.S. Army, commanding U.S. Army Forces in the Far East. Place and date: Bataan Peninsula, Philippine Islands. Entered service at: Ashland, Wis. Birth: Little Rock, Ark. G.O. No.: 16, 1 April 1942. For conspicuous leadership in preparing the Philippine Islands to resist conquest, for gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty in action against invading Japanese forces, and for the heroic conduct of defensive and offensive operations on the Bataan Peninsula. He mobilized, trained, and led an army which has received world acclaim for its gallant defense against a tremendous superiority of enemy forces in men and arms. His utter disregard of personal danger under heavy fire and aerial bombardment, his calm judgment in each crisis, inspired his troops, galvanized the spirit of resistance of the Filipino people, and confirmed the faith of the American people in their Armed Forces. Douglas MacArthur's Father, Arthur MacArthur , was also awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery during the Civil War.
It is worth noting that Jonathan Wainwright, who actually lead the troops on the Bataan peninsula, personally, and was frequently in the lines with them, and then spent four years as a prisoner of war, as awarded the medal of honor. I rather think Wainwright deserved that award more than MacArthur did.
There is only one other "father-son team" which won that award. That was Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. and his son, Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. (Don't ask my why they were both known as Theodore Roosevelt, Jr., i can't explain that.) The elder Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. received the award for his actions at Santiago in Cuba in 1898. He certainly used his status as a "war hero" to get into the Governor's mansion in New York after his return from Cuba. And certainly self-promotion was a big part of his character. This is his citation:
Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Roosevelt distinguished himself by acts of bravery on 1 July, 1898, near Santiago de Cuba, Republic of Cuba, while leading a daring charge up San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt, in total disregard for his personal safety, and accompanied by only four or five men, led a desperate and gallant charge up San Juan Hill, encouraging his troops to continue the assault through withering enemy fire over open countryside. Facing the enemy's heavy fire, he displayed extraordinary bravery throughout the charge, and was the frst to reach the enemy trenches, where he quickly killed one of the enemy with his pistol, allowing his men to continue the assault. His leadership and valor turned the tide in the Battle for San Juan Hill. Lieutenant Colonel Roosevelt's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit, and the United States Army.
I also think that Roosevelt was simply doing his duty when he lead his regiment against the Spanish. However, in the case of Roosevelt, he cannot be said to have promoted his award. He was awarded the Medal of Honor in January, 2001, 103 years after the event. I won't list the citation, but his son won the award for his conduct during the Normandy landings, and he probably deserved his award.
Which takes us back to Chamberlain. You've offered a sneer about putting one's self in harm's way--specifically: "HE knew how to play at self promotion by standing in front of bullets." It's not as though he were the only one who played that role in that war, nor in that battle. Of course, going in harm's way was his duty. Solomon Meredith commanded the First Brigade, First Division, First Corps--known popularly as the Iron Brigade. John Reynolds, the First Corps commander (and Pennsylvania's "Favorite Son," as well as the highest ranking officer in the Army of the Potomac at the time--he had refused the command of the army, which was given to Meade), was killed while he was placing the 2nd Wisconsin Regiment of United States Volunteer Infantry (which suffered the highest casualty rate of any Federal regiment in the war). The Iron Brigade suffered more than 60% casualties overall in the battle, with the 2nd Wisconsin suffering 77% casualties, and the 24th Michigan suffering 80% casualties. Meredith was struck in the head by shrapnel during the affray, and was removed from field service as a result of his injuries. The Iron Brigade managed to stop the advance of Heth and Pender's division of the III Corps, ANV, and when finally withdrawn, marched away in good order with their colors. The stand of the Iron Brigade allowed Hancock (II Corps commander, whose troops had not yet arrived) to form a defensive line on Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge.
Neither Reynolds nor Meredith received a Medal of Honor citation.
Other officers rose to high rank in that war, and with much more effort. Francis Barlow entered a New York regiment as a private soldier, and ended the war as a Major General. Barlow rose through the ranks, and commanded his regiment at Glendale during the Seven Days. He personally lead his men in a bayonet charge, and personally captured the battle flag of the Confederate regiment he routed. At Antietam, he commanded the First Brigade, First Division, Second Corps (the Corps in which he served for the rest of the war), and fought in the sunken road, taking 300 prisoners, and was struck in the face by shrapnel and in the groin by grape shot. Of his behavior, the acting division commander, John Caldwell wrote:
Whatever praise is due to the most distinguished bravery, the utmost coolness and quickness of perception, the greatest promptitude and skill in handling troops under fire, is justly due to him. It is but simple justice to say that he has proved himself fully equal to every emergency, and I have no doubt that he would discharge the duties of a much higher command with honor to himself and benefit to the country.
Barlow commanded his brigade at Chancellorsville, but escaped the debacle when Jackson attacked. He was detached temporarily to command a division of XI corps, a group of largely German and Polish immigrants, who resented him as a martinet (he was death on stragglers, and used to follow the column on the march with a heavy cavalry sabre, wacking stragglers on the butt, and followed by a company of field police with fixed bayonets to prevent straggling). Nevertheless, at Gettysburg, his division was the only division of the XI Corps which did not break when the II Corps, ANV advanced against the town of Gettysburg. His stand on "Barlow's Knoll" was equally as responsible as the stand of the Iron Brigade giving Hancock time to form a defensive position on Cemetery Hill. His division was finally swamped by Jubal Early's division, and Barlow was again wounded, and left for dead by his troops, who were probably conducting an exercise in wishful thinking. General Gordon of Early's division found him, and sent him to a field hospital in the town of Gettysburg. He survived his wound, and the field surgeons, and was left behind in the town when the ANV retreated. He was out of service for 9 months, after which time he returned to Hancock's II Corps, and took command of First Division.
Barlow's contemporaries greatly admired him, and thought very highly of him as an officer and as a tactician. One of them stated that he "raised skirmishing to the level of an art form," and he used a technique which would not be seen again until the German 1918 offensive, of spreading his troops out to avoid casualties from mass volleys and artillery fire, and to allow the skirmishers to bypass strong points and concentrate on weak points which they "developed" in the enemy position. At Spotsylvania Court House, he put into practice Emory Upton's shock tactics, and broke through the Confederate line at "the Mule Shoe" (a salient on high ground) after 21 hours of hand-to-hand fighting, in which he participated himself. The casualties inflicted upon and the prisoners taken from Virginia's "Stonewall Brigade" were so high that that famous brigade ceased to exist from that point forward.
Barlow continued in his command, and served at Cold Harbor and before Petersburg, and in the Appomattox campaign.
Barlow was not cited for a Medal of Honor.
I suggest to you that Chamberlain's self-promotion was sufficiently successful that he was recognized for a single act of gallantry, and what may well not have been personal gallantry, which was not so recognized in others. Chamberlain was no more, by himself, the "Savior of the Army" at Gettysburg than were Reynolds, Meredith or Barlow.
You probably will, of course, disagree, and continue to admire Chamberlain. You probably will, of course, understand that i have an entirely different view of the matter, and that my opinion is not uniformed.
For several good commentaries on the battle of Gettysburg, i recommend The Gettysburg that Nobody Knows (the Gettysburg Lectures)
, Gabor Boritt, Ed., Oxford University Press (USA), 1997. The details of the Chamberlain controversy are discussed in detail in one of the articles.
For a good sketch of Francis Barlow (and several others), i recommend The Warrior Generals: Combat Leadership in the Civil War
, Thomas Buell, Crown (the Publisher), 1997.
There are several biographies of Barlow, of which The Boy General: The Life and Careers of Francis Channing Barlow
, Richard Welch, the Kent State University Press, 2003--is probably the most recent.
I admire someone like Barlow. I don't hold a high opinion of Chamberlain (which i suspect you've noticed).