Thursday, August 23, 2007

Civil War Medal of Honor Winners on Film Part 2

The other Medal of Honor soldier from the Civil War who has been depicted on film is Colonel Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine. Actor Jeff Daniels played Chamberlain twice in the movies Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. Joshua L. Chamberlain is perhaps most widely known for his role in holding the Federal position on Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg. However, he had a marvelous career as an army officer.
Chamberlain was wounded six times during the war and his 1864 wound was the most severe. He would suffer from the wound for the rest of his life but General Grant promoted him to Brigadier General. Moreover, Chamberlain oversaw the final Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House in April 1865.
In both films, Jeff Daniels does a great job portraying Chamberlain. He is passionate, courageous and he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. After the war Chamberlain made himself into a national hero and won the Medal of Honor in the 1880's for his performance at Little Round Top. These scenes do not appear in the films but one can imagine Jeff Daniels accepting these honors as a much older man. Many people consider Chamberlain a hero and his career as a historical figure was resurrected the 1990 film The Civil War by Ken Burns. Today, I am not going to debate Chamberlains importance in history other than to say that I think its overrated. I'll leave that for a future blog.

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