Thursday, March 19, 2009

Joshua Chamberlain's Home

This past summer, my family and I had the opportunity to tour New England. Of course, we had to stop at the home of Civil War General Joshua Chamberlain. What is now the Joshua Chamberlain Museum was the family home beginning in 1859 when they bought this house. What is now the second floor of this building was originally the first floor. The general had the home raised and a whole other floor built underneath it! Pretty impressive for those times I think! Upon Chamberlain's death in 1914, his daughter, Grace Dupee, unfortunately auctioned off the general's collection of books, furniture, and military artifacts. (What was she thinking?) Some of these artifacts have been recovered, but mostly not. For many decades, the home was trashed as a dormitory by students at Bowdoin College. It was not until The Killer Angels novel and the movie Gettysburg was released that local citizens realized the historic treasure they had in their community. The home was saved.

Here is the main hall of the home. The little white knob on the wall is a thermostat at an angle at which Chamberlain could reach it due to his war wounds. Notice the original dinner gong to the upper left of the stairway.

This is one of the upstairs studies/bedrooms in which the Chamberlain children may have resided.

This is Chamberlain's original Civil War saddle, a very impressive artifact. At the bottom of the case is a photo of him mounted on his valiant steed, Charlemagne, also known as "Charlie Maine" by locals.

In another case are Chamberlain's boots which he wore at Gettysburg. When one looks closely, they can see the patch placed on a boot when a piece of shrapnel hit it on Little Round Top. The sword to the right was one of his swords, but not the famous bent one he used at Gettysburg. That one was auctioned off in 1914 and never recovered. There is nothing left of his uniform except the buttons, which are displayed in the background.

Here is the original bullet which went through Chamberlain at Petersburg. The wound was nearly mortal. After his recovery, Joshua gave the bullet to his brother, Tom, for it was he who saved Chamberlain and forced surgeons to operate on Joshua when the doctors thought Chamberlain was beyond saving.

This is Chamberlain's office, including his original inkwell. The big red chair at left was his governor chair. This chair was thought lost, but was actually found being used to throne the prom queen once every year at Bowdoin College! Needless to say, they quickly found another chair for the prom queen!

The completely refurbished living room.

A view looking towards the front door and rear of the staircase.

Across the street in the Bowdoin College Library, you can find Chamberlain's Medal of Honor.

And of course, I had to go pay my respects to the general himself...

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