The greatest hero of the Civil War was General Joshua L. Chamberlain. His 20th Maine was at many great battles including Gettysburg. This battle was the turning point in the Civil War representing the high water mark of the Confederacy in the war. His 20th Maine held the far left of the Union line against all odds. The last charge by the Confederacy against his lines was against a Maine group without ammunition. Chamberlain led them in a charge against a superior force armed only with bayonets and they prevailed.
He is addressing a group of mutineers from the 2nd Maine who feel that their enlistment has run out and don't want to fight anymore. By the way they've done more than their share, having fought in numerous battles and sustained heavy casualties. They aren't cowards, they're tired of fighting. They have fought bravely under inept leadership that was rampant in the early years of the war on the Union side and Chamberlain is trying to get them to accompany his 20th Maine, also decimated in the fighting.
This seems to be a continuing theme with me. I've been exploring in my mind why soldiers go to war. Chamberlain makes the statement that many fight because "it's the right thing to do" and that "they fight for each other." That hit home with me. I would never put myself in the same category as Chamberlain but his message struck a chord in me. That's it. That's why. Interesting. It was really simple.
I guess why I love Chamberlain is that he was a school teacher. He volunteered for the fight and served to the end of the war. He had numerous horses shot out from under him and was wounded no less than five times. He received the ultimate honor when he was chosen by General Grant to accept the surrender of General Robert E. Lee on April 9, 1865 at Appamattox essentially ending the Civil War.
Give a listen to this sound bite and know that he truly was a hero. I'll let him explain it to you. I have read extensively about Chamberlain and this an accurate rendition of his words on the eve of the Battle of Gettysburg. The words here are taken almost word for word from a book entitled "Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara. This is a great book and I recommend it to any readers who want to read about the Civil War. Well done.