Joshua entered Bowdoin College in 1848. He taught himself to read Greek in order to pass the entrance exam. While a student at Bowdoin he met people who would influence him greatly such as the wife of a professor Harriet Beecher Stowe.
Joshua married Fanny Adams the daughter ( adopted) of a local Clergymen in1855 . His new father-in-law along with his mother urged Joshua to enter the into training to become a pastor. Which he did in 1855 and 3 years following. Joshua was not suited to be a man of the cloth. He didn’t enjoy it so he left Bangor Theological Seminary were he was attending.
When the Civil War began he felt that he ought to fight but the administration at Bowdoin College were he was a professor of Rhetoric thought otherwise. They offered him a sabbatical to study languages in Europe but Joshua turned them down and offered his services to the Governor of Maine who then offered him the colonelcy of the 20th Maine but he turned it down to “start a little lower and learn the business first.” So he took the rank of Lieutenant Colonel under Adelbert Ames in the 20th Maine.
The Joahu and the 20th Maine were at many important battles such as Antietam. Chamberlin’s regiment did not enter into the battle of Antietam though they were placed in reserve.
They were also in the Battle of Fredricksburg in which they took part in the famed attack on the wall at Marye’s Heights. The 20th Maine was forced to spend two nights on the battlefield after the battle. On the first night while they were burying their dead a very rare thing occurred, the Aurora Borealis happened.
One of the most famous battles in which Colonel Chamberlin was in is Gettysburg. This is the battle in which Chamberlin and the 20th Maine made a name for themselves on a little known hill in a previously little known town of Gettysburg.
Chamberlin and his men were positioned on the very end of the Union line they were the extreme end on Little Round Top in Gettysburg. If they had retreated then the whole Union line would have been swept by the Confederates. He stayed and made a very unlikely maneuver when he ordered his men to charge down the hill because they were running low on ammunition. This move saved the Union Army because the Confederate troops who were charging and had been charging almost broke through the line.
Chamberlin was also in many other battles including Petersburg where Chamberlin was wounded he was shot through the pelvis. Chamberlin also was at Appomatox when General Robert E. Lee surrendered. Joshua received the swords of the Confederate officers and he received the guns of the Confederate soldiers (not all at one time of course).
After the war Chamberlin became the Governor of Maine from 1866 until 1869 after his time as Governor he became a professor again at Bowdoin College were he taught until 1883. In 1893 30 years after the battle of Little Round Top Joshua was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at that battle. At the age of 70 in 1889 he volunteered to be an officer in the army during the Spanish-American war but was turned down this was one of the worst disappointments of his life. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin died in 1914 due to the wounds he received at the Battle of Petersburg. Thus ends the life of the hero of Gettysburg.