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Posted on Jan 26, 2007 in Armchair Reading

Joshua Chamberlain

By David Dougherty

Good Evening,
I’ve read your excellent magazine since the very first issue. Its always been informative and the articles timely. Today,I have a problem that I need some help on. I named my son after Joshua Chamberlain. For his 8th grade graduation,I want to give him an autobiography about his namesake. Do you have any recommendations on the best book out there?

With Regards,            
David Dougherty                                             
Villa Park,Illinois

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Dear Mr. Dougherty,

Thanks very much for your email to Armchair General about Joshua Chamberlain autobiographies.

He wrote two autobiographies after the war that are available and recommended:

Bayonet! Forward!: My Civil War Reminiscences by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (328 pages)

Through Blood and Fire at Gettysburg by Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (60 pages).

The second, shorter book is Chamberlain’s battle report of the Gettysburg fighting while the "Bayonet!" book is his post-war writings and speeches on his wartime service. Both are good as they are Chamberlain’s own accounts in his own words.

You can read an on line version of Chamberlain’s Gettysburg battle report at this website:

The site is the US Army Combat Studies Institute at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, and it also includes many accounts of combat action over many historical periods. Very useful website for anyone interested in military history.

These biographies are also excellent:

Joshua Chamberlain: A Hero’s Life and Legacy by John J. Pullen

In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War by Alice Rains Trulock

Yet, my favorite "Chamberlain" book remains Michael Shaara’s historical fiction, The Killer Angels, as it brings Chamberlain and his exploits vividly to life. This very inspiring book as been required reading at military schools and courses for our active duty US military personnel since it first appeared in 1975, and I have used it as a text book in several of my classes that I have taught to college students and US military officers both. I think it is very readable by an eighth-ninth grader and would be very inspiring reading.

All of these books are currently available on web sites like


Col. ret. Jerry D. Morelock, PhD
Editor in Chief, Armchair General magazine