Tag Archives: Ellis Spear

The 20th Maine’s Dirty Rotten Skulker, part 2

Of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment’s three original field officers, Lt. Col. Charles D. Gilmore developed the habit of turning sick when battle loomed on the horizon — or so Capt. (and later major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel) Ellis Spear believed. Looking back to the Chancellorsville campaign, when Col. Adelbert Ames got his coveted staff […]

The 20th Maine’s Dirty Rotten Skulker, part 1

Historians will tell you that a bad apple served too long as the 20th Maine Infantry’s quartermaster, but looking back after the war, Bvt. Brig. Gen. Ellis Spear — the left-flank commander on Little Round Top — remembered a particular officer as, to play with a 1988 movie title, a “Dirty Rotten Skulker.” A Warren […]

That was my last picket line

Notified in mid-July 1865 that they would soon muster out, some 20th Maine lads looked forward to drinking their way home. Col. Ellis Spear quickly put the kibosh to that idea. He realized that when the War Department had called for infantry regiments in summer 1862, surgeons did not examine recruits “in the matter of […]

Did God ward off a third strike against Joshua Chamberlain?

Note: This post is adapted from the wartime biography of Joshua L. Chamberlain that I am writing for Emerging Civil War. Shot down during his brigade’s Saturday June 18, 1864 charge at Petersburg, Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain should have bled out on the battlefield. He did not. Recivered by stretcher bearers sent into the lead-filled […]

The 20th Maine lads on Death Row

An incident overlooked by the history books inexplicably placed 14 lads from the 20th Maine Infantry on Death Row, and someone must be held accountable for doing so. Ellis Spear or Walter Morrill or Holman Melcher? No, they were not in charge when these men from Maine committed the transgression that led to their collective […]

The Wilderness, Part IV — Trapped

After capturing Confederate-held trenches at the western edge of Saunders Field in The Wilderness on May 5, 1864, 20th Maine Infantry soldiers kept pushing their enemies through the tangled undergrowth beyond those trenches. The Maine soldiers advanced across this particular terrain just west of the trenches still found at Saunders Field. Anchoring his regiment’s left […]