The 20th Maine Infantry visits York County
Background post: The Union V Corps visits southwestern York County (account of the 118th Pennsylvania near Hanover)
I am up in upstate Maine on business this week (after a very active Civil War weekend in York County, PA). The weather is lousy (chilly, drizzle, fog), but the people are friendly and the scenery beautiful, particularly along the coast. Maine during the Civil War provided significant numbers of sailors to the Union Navy, as well as several regiments of infantry, a little cavalry, and some artillery. Perhaps the most famous (at least today to the modern casual Civil War buff) is the 20th Maine Infantry, which gained recognition from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Killer Angels and the later Ted Turner financed movie, Gettysburg. Commanding colonel Joshua “Don’t Call Me Lawrence” Chamberlain‘s image to most people is the face of actor Jeff Daniels, who also portrayed the colonel in the prequel Gods and Generals.
But, what is the connection between the venerable Chamberlain, his regiment of woodsmen, fishermen, and townspeople from Maine, and York County, PA?
On July 1, 1863, the Union V Corps under Maj. Gen. George Sykes marched through extreme southwestern township, coming up from Maryland on the Hanover-Westminster Road (the same road used on June 30 by J.E.B. Stuart‘s cavalry to approach Hanover from Westminster). Much of the general area just a couple of days before had seen maneuvering of troops during what became the Battle of Hanover.
The V Corps camped on several farms near Hanover, but they did not stay very long (perhaps three hours, according to Hanover expert and Licensed Battlefield Guide John Krepps). By 7 PM, they were on the march for Gettysburg, having been ordered to move in that direction as the battle raged. Shortly after Sykes’ men, including Chamberlain and the Maine boys, tramped through York County, the regiment entered Adams County, where their unknown destiny would take them to Little Round Top, where many would die or be wounded, and the rest achieve everlasting fame as one of the chief stops on the modern tourist route.
As soon as my photos I took today in Brewer, Maine, are developed of the mock “Little Round Top” hilltop memorial to Chamberlain and the 20th, I will post them here on Cannonball.