I can only hope that some day the Canadian press with spend some time learning a little more about our military heritage south of the border.
This medal once belonged to a fellow names Joshua Chamberlain, and he was at one time responsible for the lives of a few Canadians. In fact a lot of Canadians. (The image above shows a later version of the army CW Medal and has a slightly different ribbon approved in 1896.)
Joshua was born in the state of Maine and took his higher education at Bowdoin College in Brunswick Main, just a 200 mile swim west of Yarmouth Nova Scotia, on a nice day with a cool breeze. Some of his school alumni including President Franklin Pierce, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Harriett Beecher Stowe, who wrote her Uncle Ben's Cabin from one its halls.
When the Civil War started Joshua was offered the position of Colonel of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry by the state governor. But the soon to be officer preferred some learning curve at a lower rank. He was given Lt. Colonel... but it would not be long before he was promoted to Colonel when his superior moved up to the General ranks.
His 20th Maine were at Antietam and Fredericksburg but held back from the front lines as reserve units only called upon if needed. At Chancellorsville they were bucking to get into the action but found themselves quaranteed. They had taken a tainted batch of medicine against smallpox and had to wait it out. But they'd be in the thick of things in about 20 battles including Gettysburg, Spotsylvania Court House, Petersburg, Rappahannock Station, Five Forks, the Mine Run, the Wilderness, North Anna, Totopotomoy, Cold Harbor, and at Appattomox Court House.
It would take 30 years to recognize this man as a true hero from the days of the fight at a place commonly called the Little Round Top. But be that as it may, in 1893 the President finally granted Joshua, by then a Brig. General, (and Major General by brevet) his Medal of Honor.
He appears to be a naughty boy in this image as the recipients were not allowed to wear an old and a new version at the same time. Just one...unless of course they were one of the very few who actually were awarded two different medals for two different events. Most sources will tell you there are only 19 such double recipients. But regular readers of this blog know that I feel there were actually 25.
In this image he appears to be wearing the old CW version of the MOH on the left as you look at the picture. Two over is what looks like the 1904 version of the medal, fifth over seems to be the Grand Army of the Republic's membership badge that caused so much grief because it looked too much like an actual Medal of Honor. It clearly was nothing more than a membership badge in a club, be it a most impressive and influential club at that.
After the General passed away his family donated the later version of the medal to his old Brunswick school... Bowdoin College. Here are images of that 1904 version medal...with a slightly different suspension bar.
The news of yesterday was that this fellow had recently come forth and now, without revealing his identity, donated it to the Pejepscot Historical Society of Brunswick Maine, a society started back in the late 1800's by 16 good folks and today being one of the oldest in the state. It operates the General Joshua Chamberlain Museum and were thrilled at receiving the donation and will soon have it on display for all to come and see.
It has permitted me to use the image at the top of this blog and hopefully within a few days will make available to me an image of the inscription on the reverse.
The image to the left is courtesy of the good folks at the Bowdoin College.
Its been said many a time that the Battle for Little Round Top was the turning point of the Battle at Gettysburg, and thus, the shortening of the war.
While it clearly played a major part in that battle and ultimate outcome of the war, some say it was not quite as important as many would have us believe. That said, Colonel, turned General Joshua Chamberlain was very important to Canada, and whilst you may not have heard it from anywhere else, in the Canadian or American news of late, you are going to get that scoop on Friday's blog.
Please join me then!