Nobody would have guessed that Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, an unassuming rhetoric professor with a stutter, would be a war hero. Today, we would call Chamberlain a nerd. How wrong would be!

Chamberlain proved to be a skilled, tough as nails, and very respected officer — not only by his own men but also by his enemies. Wounded six times during the Civil War, having had six horses shot out from under him, he was awarded the Medal of Honor for his gallant stand at Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg.

He was severely wounded during the Battle of Petersburg in 1864. But not only did he survive, he returned to active duty and was also awarded the honor of accepting the Confederate Infantry surrender at Appomattox Court House. He eventually died as a result of complications from his wounds 50 years later in 1914. Thus he’s considered the final casualty of the Civil War.

Early Life and Education

Chamberlain was born on September 8, 1828, in Brewer, Maine, the oldest of five children. His mother ingrained in him his religious devotion to the Congregational Church, while his father passed on a deep interest in the military, as every generation of his family had served in the army back to the Revolution.