Chamberlain, Thomas, LTC

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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry)
Last Service Branch
Last Primary MOS
1542-Infantry Unit Commander
Last MOS Group
Infantry (Officer)
Primary Unit
1862-1865, 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Service Years
1861 - 1865


Lieutenant Colonel (Infantry)

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Year of Birth
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Contact Info
Home Town
Last Address
Not Specified

Date of Passing
Aug 12, 1891
Location of Interment
Castine Cemetery - Castine, Maine
Wall/Plot Coordinates
GPS (lat/lon): 44.39503, -68.79378

 Official Badges 

Grand Army of the Republic Badge

 Unofficial Badges 

Order Of The Bayonet

 Additional Information

Last Known Activity
Thomas Davee Chamberlain (April 29, 1841 – August 12, 1896) was an officer in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regimentduring the American Civil War, the brother of Union general Joshua L. Chamberlain, the commanding officer of the 20th Maine Infantry.

Civil War service[edit]

Chamberlain's great-grandfathers were soldiers in the American Revolutionary War and his grandfather had served during the War of 1812. His father also had served during the abortive Aroostook War of 1839. His brother Joshua was also in the army.

In 1862, Chamberlain joined the Union Army. His motives were mixed—personal, patriotic, and religious.

He was soon placed in the newly formed 20th Maine Infantry along with his brother Joshua, who was made lieutenant colonel of the regiment.

The 20th Maine regiment marched to the Battle of Antietam, but did not participate in the fighting. They fought at the Battle of Fredericksburg, suffering light casualties in the assaults on Marye's Heights, but they were forced to spend a miserable night on the freezing battlefield among the many wounded and dead from other regiments. They missed the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863 due to an outbreak of smallpox in their ranks, which kept them on guard duty in the rear. In June 1863, Joshua was promoted to colonel of the regiment, after the promotion of its first colonel, Adelbert Ames, to brigade command. Thomas Chamberlain was involved in most of the other battles in which the 20th Maine fought, most notably the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg[edit]

During the defense of Little Round Top, the 20th Maine came under heavy attack from the Confederate 15th Alabama regiment, part of the division led by Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood, and after about 3–4 hours of fighting the 20th Maine completely ran out of ammunition. Chamberlain's brother Joshua recognized the dire circumstances and ordered his left wing to respond to the rebels by charging downhill with fixed bayonets, thus ending the Confederate attack on the hill. The 20th Maine and the 83rd Pennsylvania together captured over 400 soldiers from the attacking Confederate forces. Joshua was slightly wounded in the foot by a spent bullet. Thomas was unhurt, except for "several scratches". As a result of their valiant defense of the hill, the Chamberlain brothers, Joshua Chamberlain especially, and the 20th Maine gained a great reputation and they were the subject of many publications and stories.



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After Gettysburg[edit]


After Gettysburg, the major battles in which Thomas Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were involved were the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House and the Siege of Petersburg. At the Siege of Petersburg, the 20th Maine was in reserve, while Joshua (against his better judgment) led his Pennsylvania Bucktail brigade in a charge on a section of the Confederate defenses known as Rives's Salient. Turning to direct his troops, Joshua was struck by a minié ball, which entered just below his right hip, nicked his bladder and urethra, and stopped at his left hip. Such a devastating wound should have been fatal, and when he arrived at the field hospital, three miles behind the lines, his life was feared over. Thomas Chamberlain, back with his regiment, eventually heard the news. He and the surgeon of the 20th Maine, Dr. Abner O. Shaw, went to the hospital where Joshua was dying. As Thomas waited, Dr. Shaw, with Dr. Morris W. Townsend of the 44th New York, worked all night to try to save Joshua Chamberlain's life. Thirty-five years later, Joshua Chamberlain wrote that, after the surgeons had finished: "Tom stood over me like a brother, and such a one as he was." Remarkably, Col. Chamberlain survived to enjoy his "on the spot" promotion to brigadier general, although he never returned to full fitness. A number of biographers of Joshua Chamberlain say that his life was saved through the activity of his brother, Thomas.


Appomattox Campaign[edit]


After Petersburg, Thomas Chamberlain and the 20th Maine were involved in the Battle of Five Forks and the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse. At the end of the war, the 20th Maine marched from Appomattox, Virginia, on May 2, reaching Washington, D.C., on May 12, where it was then finally mustered out of service on July 16, 1865.

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 Unit Assignments
20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
  1862-1865, 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1862-1862 Fredericksburg Campaign (1862)/Battle of Fredericksburg 11 to 15 December 1862
  1863-1863 Civil War/Second Battle of Fredericksburg
  1863-1863 Battle of Gettysburg/Little Round Top
  1864-1864 Spotsylvania Campaign 8 to 21 May 1864 CWC Streamer/Battle of Spotsylvania Court House 8 to 21 May 1864
  1864-1864 Overland Campaign (1864)/Spotsylvania Campaign 8 to 21 May 1864 CWC Streamer
  1864-1864 Petersburg Campaign (1864-65)/Siege of Petersburg
  1865-1865 Appomattox Campaign (1865)/Battle of Five Forks 1 April 1865
  1865-1865 Appomattox Campaign (1865)/Battle of Appomattox Court House 9 April 1865
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