Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain at Gettysburg

Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain, from Maine, was an officer in the Union army during the Civil War.  He had no prior military experience before the War Between the States.

In this clip from "Gettysburg," a film based on The Killer Angels (by Michael Shaara), Chamberlain discusses the meaning of the war (and equality) with Pvt. Buster Kilrain. 

Although an educated man, who became President of Bowdoin College, Chamberlain has things to learn from Kilrain (an immigrant from Ireland).

In this conversation, taken from the book (and used in the film), we learn Kilrain's view of equality.  We also discover the source of the novel's title:

... Colonel, darling, you're a lovely man. I see a vast great difference between us, yet I admire you, lad. You're an idealist, praise be. The truth is, Colonel... There is no "divine spark." There's many a man alive no more of value than a dead dog. Believe me. 

When you've seen them hang each other the way I have back in the Old Country. Equality?  What I'm fighting for is to prove I'm a better man than many of them.

Where have you seen this "divine spark" in operation, Colonel?  Where have you noted this magnificent equality?  No two things on Earth are equal or have an equal chance.  Not a leaf, not a tree.  There's many a man worse than me, and some better ... But I don't think race or country matters a damn.  What matters, Colonel ... Is justice. Which is why I'm here.

I'll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved.  I'm Kilrain ... And I damn all gentlemen.  There is only one aristocracy ... And that is right here [Kilrain points to his head].  And that's why we've got to win this war.   (The Killer Angeles, by Michael Shaara, page 188.)

See these related videos:

Lee and Longstreet at Gettysburg - End of First Day

Lee Reprimands Jeb Stuart at Gettysburg - End of Second Day

Battle of Gettysburg - Union Charge

Pickett's Charge - Plan of Attack

Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg 

General Armistead and the End of Pickett's Charge

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5197stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: May 30, 2020

Media Credits

Clip from the 1993 film "Gettysburg," based on The Killer Angels (a book by Michael Shaara), online courtesy YouTube.  Copyright, Turner Pictures, all rights reserved.  Provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the film.

Directed by:
Ronald F. Maxwell

Produced by:
Moctesuma Esparza
Robert Katz

Screenplay by:
Ronald F. Maxwell


Martin Sheen - General Robert E. Lee
Tom Berenger - Lieutenant General James Longstreet
Jeff Daniels
- Colonel Joshua Chamberlain
Stephen Lang - Major General George Pickett
Joseph Fuqua - Major General J.E.B. Stuart
George Lazenby
- General Johnston Pettigrew
James Patrick Stuart - Colonel Edward Porter Alexander

Musical Score by:
Randy Edelman


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Lt. Col. Joshua Chamberlain at Gettysburg" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. May 30, 2020.
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