Even among the many recognized Northern and Southern heros of Gettysburg Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Commander of the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment, stands out.
Having held the extreme left flank of the Union Army on Little Round Top until ammunition had almost run out, Chamberlain ordered the 20th Maine to perform what many hold to be the most famous bayonet charge of American History.
During the afternoon of 2 July, 1863; the Second Day of Gettysburg, General Hood’s Division of Longstreet’s Corps had made repeated assaults against the end of the Union Line to dislodge it and secure victory at Gettysburg. But, the Union Line held fast - the astonishing bayonet charge was made - and Chamberlain was credited for his part saving the pivotal battle of the Civil War and later won The Medal Of Honor.
Like other portraits in the Gettysburg Series an attempt was made to portray the character at a key point in the battle. But in addition, a greater amount of visual elements were included.
A familiar period photograph of General Chamberlain was modified to show his correct rank as Colonel at the time he ordered the charge; arm raised, shouting “BAYONETS!” And, possibly interesting to some; Actor Jeff Daniels’ facial expression from that open-mouthed moment in the Movie “Gettysburg” was used as a prop, and Chamberlain is shown battle-worn; as he surely would have been.
Recent historically-related events strongly influenced the included elements of the illustration. The original Congressional Medal Of Honor (CMH) Chamberlain was awarded 11 August, 1893 was discovered in mid-September of 2013, 150 years after the Battle of Gettysburg, and the story surfaced one day after I started the portrait. It was tucked in the back of a book bought at a Church bizarre in Maine. The CMH is shown, along with a less-battered representation of the original concentric-star Union Flag born by the 20th Maine that day at Gettysburg. The Flag, retired after Gettysburg due to wear, was also recently authenticated, and both the CMH (thanks to an anonymous donor) and Flag are on display; possessions of the State Of Maine.
Other elements of the illustration: 20th Maine graphics, three bayonets, a portion of Little Round Top, and Chamberlain’s portrait as Governor against an outline of the State Of Maine. The Colonel’s Eagle Epaulet and Infantry Officer “I” Buttons are accurate to the time, rank, and uniform attire.
Time of Execution: 40 hours
Technique / Media: Etched graphite, gouache, and mixed media on sepia paper.
Size: 11” x 14”