20th Maine Regiment: 16 Cool Facts

The fact that my friend and the owner of this website, Charles Holmes, hails from Maine, I have decided to create a post honoring a famous regiment from this great Northeastern State… The 20th Maine Regiment.

A regiment who showed bravery and courage during the Civil War, I am going to give you 16 cool facts.

These facts are in no particular order, so read them all and learn some Civil War history that you probably did not learn in school.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #1: Organized

The 20th Main Regiment was organized in August of 1862.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #2: Number Of Volunteers

When Abraham Lincoln made a 2nd call for Union Army volunteers, men came to join the 20th Main Regiment with the starting number of 1,621.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #3: Leadership

When the troops were mustered in, the leadership was commander, Colonel Adelbert Ames and Lieutenant Colonel Joshua Chamberlain.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #4: Number Of Casualties Throughout The Civil War

The 20th Maine Regiment had a total of 293 casualties.

  • 146 died from diseases
  • 147 died from combat injuries

20th Maine Regiment Fact #5: Colonel Joshua Chamberlain

Colonel Chamberlain gained notoriety because of his leadership of the 20th Maine Regiment during the Civil War.

  • He was wounded 6+ times
  • Chamberlain was awarded the Medal of Honor
  • He served as Governor of Maine
  • He was also President of Bowdoin College

20th Maine Regiment Fact #6: Colonel Adelbert Ames

We often hear a lot about Joshua Chamberlain, but Colonel Adelbert Ames should be honored too.

  • He graduated from West Point
  • Colonel Ames was also awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor for his actions during the First Battle of Bull Run

20th Maine Regiment Fact #7: The Soldiers

We must remember this was a 2nd call for volunteers. The soldiers who came to serve would have been with the 16th, 17th, 18th or 19th Maine had they joined in the 1st call, but these regiments were all full.

The 20th Maine Regiment was made up of many

  • Fishermen
  • Farmers
  • Shop owners
  • and Woodsmen

Also, there were at least 10 who graduated from Bowdoin College who were commissioned as officers.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #8: Mustered Out But Not Forgotten

The 20th Maine Regiment was mustered out of service in July of 1865, but they will not be forgotten.

20th maine regiment

This is a picture of an 1889 reunion of the 20th Maine Regiment at Gettysburg. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The 133rd Engineer Battalion of the Maine National Guard carries the lineage of the 20th Maine Regiment.

The 133rd has served in

  • WW I
  • WW II
  • Panama
  • Guatemala
  • Bosnia
  • Many humanitarian missions here at home
  • Iraq
  • and Afghanistan

20th Maine Regiment Fact #9: The Bayonet Charge

What the 20th Maine Regiment is best known for is their absolutely crazy bayonet charge during the Battle of Little Round Top.

Chamberlain ordered this move when the odds seemed fruitless. The Confederates were preparing to make a charge and Chamberlain ordered his men to fix bayonets and charge first.

Company B was isolated but fired from their positions as the men charged. To be blunt, it scared the shit out of the Confederates scattering them everywhere which ended the attack.

Many say this was the action that helped the Union win Gettysburg.

Other posts you should read:

  1. Top 10 Quotes by General Joshua Chamberlain
  2. Major General Joshua Chamberlain, the Battle of Little Round Top and the 20th Maine Volunteer Regiment: Lessons from the Historic Civil War Battle
  3. Top 20 Famous Civil War Units: The Best of the Best
  4. Top 7 Civil War Movies of All Time
  5. Top 5 Civil War Confederate Army Leaders

20th Maine Regiment Fact #10: Battles

The battles:

  • Battle of Antietam – Kept in reserve
  • Battle of Shephardstown – Several wounded and Lieutenant Colonel Chamberlain’s horse was shot
  • Battle of Fredericksburg – 4 killed and 32 wounded
  • Battle of Chancellorsville – Did not participate because the Regiment was in quarantine for smallpox
  • Battle of Gettysburg – 38 killed and 93 wounded
  • Battle of the Wilderness
  • Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
  • Battle of Cold Harbor
  • First Assault on Petersburg
  • Battle of Five Forks

These were the primary battles but there were numerous skirmishes along the way.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #11: There Are 2 Monuments And 1 Marker At Gettysburg Honoring The 20th Maine Regiment

If you visit Gettysburg, you will find a monument at Little Round Top dedicated by the State of Maine in 1886.

About 100 yards to the East is a marker where Company B held ground and supported the main Regiment as they made the bayonet charge.

The last monument is at the summit of Big Round Top and was dedicated in 1889.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #12: Joshua Chamberlain Promoted

Ulysses Grant promoted Chamberlain to Brigadier General and gave him command of all the Union troops when the Confederates surrendered.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #13: Gray

The small town of Gray in southern Maine sent proportionately more of its sons into battle than any other town in Maine.

20th Maine Regiment Fact #14: In Books, Movies and Song

The 20th Maine Regiment has been depicted and honored in many ways:

  • The movie Gods And Generals
  • The books The Killer Angels & Courage On Little Round Top
  • And the movie Gettysburg

Plus….

20th Maine Regiment Fact #15: Quotes

I decided to search out quotes from Joshua Chamberlain… Enjoy.

But we can hold our spirits and our bodies so pure and high, we may cherish such thoughts and such ideals, and dream such dreams of lofty purpose, that we can determine and know what manner of men we will be, whenever and wherever the hour strikes and calls to noble action.”

This is the great reward of service, to live, far out and on, in the life of others; this is the mystery of Christ, – to give life’s best for such high sake that it shall be found again unto life eternal.”

But the cause for which we fought was higher; our thought wider… That thought was our power.”

The word was enough. It ran like fire along the line, from man to man, and rose into a shout, with which they sprang forward upon the enemy, now not 30 yards away.”

20th Maine Regiment Fact #16: Showing History

There is a group from the great State of Maine who regularly reenact the history of the 20th Maine Regiment and are always seeking artifacts to keep the history alive.

The Civil War was a drastic piece of history, but we should never try to erase it, be it Union or Confederate.

The group I speak of is the 20th Maine Volunteers and you can see their website at: http://20thmainevolunteers.com/

Conclusion

Personally, I love history and researching and writing about it; especially military history.

I truly hope you learned something you did not know today.

Do you have any facts you would add that I may have missed?

You can post all comments and questions below.

Thank you.

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/20th_Maine_Volunteer_Infantry_Regiment
  2. http://www.historynet.com/20th-maine
  3. http://civilwarintheeast.com/us-regiments-batteries/maine/20th-maine/
  4. http://www.essentialcivilwarcurriculum.com/20th-maine-volunteers.html
  5. http://gettysburg.stonesentinels.com/union-monuments/maine/20th-maine/
  6. http://www.mainememory.net/sitebuilder/site/154/slideshow/184/display?format=list
  7. http://20thmainevolunteers.com/

About The Author

Greg Boudonck is a full time freelance writer and the author of over 50 books. He served in the United States Army in the early 1980’s and enjoys writing about military subjects. You can see Greg’s books on Amazon by searching his name and you can also visit his website at Lancerlife.com.

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