The new book Joshua Chamberlain: A Life in Letters, edited by historian Thomas Desjardin, who taught a Civil War course at the College in 2006, is reviewed in The Wall Street Journal.
“The most striking letter vividly describes his regiment’s harrowing experience at the battle of Fredericksburg, arguably the worst Union defeat in the war. On the morning of Dec. 13, 1862, Chamberlain’s men were held in reserve in the Virginia town of Fredericksburg while their comrades charged the seemingly impregnable Confederate infantry lines occupying a sunken road at the foot of Marye’s Heights, a ridge upon which enemy cannon were so thickly concentrated that one Confederate artillery officer boasted: ‘A chicken could not live on that field when we open on it.’ Observing the slaughter as blue-clad regiments were cut down while crossing the plain in front of the heights, Chamberlain scribbled in his notebook: ‘I see tears in the eyes of many a brave man looking on that sorrowful sight, yet all of us are eager to dash to the rescue.'”
Joshua Chamberlain: A Life in Letters is available from the Bowdoin College Bookstore.