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Civil War Hero's Medal Found at Church Book Sale

By Elliot Jager   |   Wednesday, 11 Sep 2013 12:42 PM

A Congressional Medal of Honor awarded in 1893 to Civil War hero Gen. Joshua Chamberlain has turned up in a book sold at a church fundraiser.

Chamberlain, a college professor from Maine with no previous military experience, joined the Union Army, achieved the rank of brigadier general, and was awarded his medal for gallantry at the Battle of Gettysburg.

It turned up when a book was sold at a July event to raise money for the First Parish Church of Duxbury, Mass. The buyer sent the medal anonymously to the Pejepscot Historical Society in Brunswick, Maine, the Times Record of Brunswick reports.

The society initially believed Chamberlain's medal was already on display at nearby Bowdoin College. But that medal turned out to be one reissued to Chamberlain by Congress when the award was redesigned in 1904.

At the time, recipients could either exchange the old medal for the new one, or keep both. Chamberlain evidently chose to keep both. The Times Record says the just-discovered original medal has been verified as authentic.

It had been given to Chamberlain's last surviving relative, Rosamund Allen, whose estate was donated to the Duxbury church following her death in 2000.

"There is photographic evidence that Chamberlain was very proud of the medal, that he wore it quite often," Pejepscot Historical Society Director Jennifer Blanchard told The Times Record.

President Grover Cleveland bestowed Chamberlain with the medal by in 1893, 30 years after he earned it for his actions at Little Round Top, one of two rocky hills south of Gettysburg and the place where Confederate troops unsuccessfully charged Union troops. After the Civil War, Chamberlain entered politics and was elected Republican Governor of Maine. He died in 1914. His Brunswick home is now a museum.



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