Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign

Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign

by Thomas A. Desjardin

Fought amid rocks and trees, in thick blinding smoke, and under exceedingly stressful conditions, the battle for the southern slope of Little Round Top on July 2, 1863 stands among the most famous and crucial military actions in American history, one of the key engagements that led to the North's victory at Gettysburg.

In this powerfully narrated history, Maine historian Tom Desjardin tells the story of the 20th Maine Regiment, the soldiers who fought and won the battle of Little Round Top. This engaging work is the culmination of years of detailed research on the experiences of the soldiers in that regiment, telling the complete story of the unit in the Gettysburg Campaign, from June 21 through July 10, 1863.

He brings the personal experiences of the soldiers to life, relating the story from both sides and revealing the actions and feelings of the men from Alabama who tried, in vain, to seize Little Round Top. Indeed, ranging from the lowest ranking private to the highest officers, this book explores the terrible experiences of war and their tragic effect.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Military History
  • Rating: 4.10
  • Pages: 256
  • Publish Date: March 22nd 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA
  • Isbn10: 0195140826
  • Isbn13: 9780195140828

Read the Book "Stand Firm Ye Boys from Maine: The 20th Maine and the Gettysburg Campaign" Online

A very thorough and well balanced account of the epic fight that's maybe not so epic. Desjardin was an advisor for the film Gettysburg and talks at length how the book Killer Angels and the movie have brought this fight to the public's attention.

Standing atop that rocky hill in Pennsylvania on July 2, 1863, those five hundred Union soldiers from Maine must have felt as if their world was ending. Under the command of Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment held the southern slope of Little Round Top, the extreme left end of the Union line. Desjardin writes clearly and economically the book is just 167 pages long, not counting appendices and captures the drama and sweep of the engagement well, as in this passage regarding the Alabama infantrys attack on the hill: When the assault finally reached its goal, it was, thanks to the confusing approach maneuvers, en echelon, meaning that it struck a point and then rolled toward its right. At the same time, a key part of the goal of Desjardins book seems to be demythologizing the 20th Maines stand at Little Round Top, particularly in terms of Michael Shaaras novel The Killer Angels (1974) and Ronald Maxwells film adaptation Gettysburg (1993). Passing through those towns, on U.S. Route 1 or Maine Route 9, I imagined those young Mainers leaving their beautiful little towns, bound for terrors they could not have imagined, and for the experience - glorious for some, deadly or traumatizing for others, life-changing for all - of being part of the regiment that is described in Ken Burnss documentary The Civil War (1990) as having, perhaps, saved the Union at Gettysburg.

Standing atop that rocky hill in Pennsylvania on July 2, 1863, those five hundred Union soldiers from Maine must have felt as if their world was ending. Under the command of Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment held the southern slope of Little Round Top, the extreme left end of the Union line. Desjardin writes clearly and economically the book is just 167 pages long, not counting appendices and captures the drama and sweep of the engagement well, as in this passage regarding the Alabama infantrys attack on the hill: When the assault finally reached its goal, it was, thanks to the confusing approach maneuvers, en echelon, meaning that it struck a point and then rolled toward its right. At the same time, a key part of the goal of Desjardins book seems to be demythologizing the 20th Maines stand at Little Round Top, particularly in terms of Michael Shaaras novel The Killer Angels (1974) and Ronald Maxwells film adaptation Gettysburg (1993). Passing through those towns, on U.S. Route 1 or Maine Route 9, I imagined those young Mainers leaving their beautiful little towns, bound for terrors they could not have imagined, and for the experience - glorious for some, deadly or traumatizing for others, life-changing for all - of being part of the regiment that is described in Ken Burnss documentary The Civil War (1990) as having, perhaps, saved the Union at Gettysburg.

The easy to ready narrative combines sources from both sides of the battle, including the key stand at little round top, to give a flowing account of the action from the eyes and minds of the men who were there.

I still consider Chamberlain a personal hero, but Stand Firm has tempered my admiration with a useful dose of historical analysis.

Basically those who saw the movie Gettysburg, or read The Killer Angels think they have a good idea about what happened.