On the early morning of July 2nd, 1863, Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine Regiment was awakened to somber news. His superiors needed to do something about the deserters of the 2nd Maine so they were dropping them at his tent entrance. As he quickly put on his clothes, he went to talk to the Sargent who brought them by forced march all night long. He was told he could kill them all by firing squad if that was his choice.
He summoned the leader of the group, Private Buckley, and they had a quick chat. He reassured them he would not shoot them. But he also said, there's a fight coming and could use their help. He ordered the cook to feed all 120 men and then assembled them for a short speech. What took place after the speech assured the Union Army they would not lose this battle.
"This regiment was formed last summer in Maine. There were a thousand of us then. There are less than three hundred of us now. All of us volunteered to fight for the union, just as you did. Some came mainly because we were bored at home — thought this looked like it might be fun. Some came because we were ashamed not to. Many of us came because it was the right thing to do. And all of us have seen men die.
This is a different kind of army. If you look back through history, you will see men fighting for pay, for women, for some other kind of loot. They fight for land, power, because a king leads them or — or just because they like killing.
But we are here for something new. This has not happened much in the history of the world. We are an army out to set other men free. America should be free ground — all of it. Not divided by a line between slave state and free — all the way, from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow. No man born to royalty. Here, we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was. Here, you can be something. Here, is the place to build a home. But it’s not the land. There’s always more land. It’s the idea that we all have value — you and me. What we’re fighting for, in the end, we’re fighting for each other."
Colonel Chamberlain was then ordered to march directly toward Gettysburg as day 2 of the battle was underway and they needed reinforcements directly. Chamberlain's brother informed him that all but 6 of the 2nd Maine soldiers decided to fight. It was providence once again as the Maine Regiments were the end of the line on the South part of the battlefield. They were outnumbered 3 to 1 and the rest of the story is legendary in the history books. Chamberlain's leadership skills were stellar. And he was a huge part in holding off the Confederate Army from breeching the line and collapsing the Union Army once for all.