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Joshua Chamberlain & Battle of Gettysburg – Masonic First Day Cover #985, 978, 2045

Joshua Chamberlain - Masonic First Day Cover with Cochrane cachet #985, #978, #2045

Joshua Chamberlain – Masonic First Day Cover #985, #978, #2045; Cochrane cachet

Joshua Chamberlain: Remarkable Military and Civil Leader

Joshua Chamberlain was one of the most remarkable military leaders in U.S. history. He was cited for bravery multiple times during the American Civil War, awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Gettysburg, and appointed Brigadier General by Ulysses Grant. Chamberlain rose in rank to Major General and was given the honor of receiving the southern surrender at Appomattox. He was also given the final Grand Review of the Army of the Potomac in Washington, DC on May 23, 1865. Not to mention that he had been wounded six times along the way.

After the Civil War war, Chamberlain went on to serve four one-year terms as Governor of Maine and also on the faculty and as president of Bowdoin College where he had studied.

The president of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 2 July 1863, while serving with the 20th Maine Infantry, in action at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, for daring heroism and great tenacity in holding his position on the Little Round Top against repeated assaults, and carrying the advance position on the Great Round Top.  Medal of Honor citation

Private Life

Chamberlain was born in Brewer, Maine, the oldest of five children. He came from a line of military men: His great grandfathers were soldiers in the American Revolutionary War, one having been a sergeant in the battle of Yorktown. His grandfather was a colonel in the War of 1812. His father served during the Aroostook War in 1839–also called the “Pork and Beans War.” This was an undeclared confrontation between the United States and Great Britain in 1838-39 over the international boundary between British North America (Canada) and Maine. The result was a compromise with a mutually accepted border between Maine and the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec.

Joshua Chamberlain, Freemason

Brother Joshua Chamberlain was raised in United Lodge No. 8 in Brunswick, Maine, on August 28, 1862. This was just a little more than two weeks after enlisting in the Union Army–unbeknownst to his employer or family–and being appointed lieutenant colonel of the 20th Maine Regiment on August 8. He was originally offered the rank of colonel, but he refused, instead agreeing to the lesser rank of lieutenant colonel to earn his way up.

The timing of his entry into Freemasonry was not unusual. By the time of the American Civil War, U.S. freemasonry tripled its membership from 66,000 to 200,000 members in over 5000 lodges nationwide. This surge in membership helps explain, at least in part, the many stories of Masonic fraternization during the American Civil War, which include accounts of Masonic soldiers and sailors rescuing enemy combatants who identified themselves as members of the fraternity. Masonic incidents are also recorded involving Freemasons burying their own with Masonic formalities during battle, as well as aid and special treatment given to Masonic POWs.

The Cover and Stamps

Featured in this First Day Cover are three U.S. postage stamps: The 1949 #985 Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) 3-cent stamp, the #978 Gettysburg Address 3-cent stamp, and the #2045 Medal of Honor 20-cent stamp for which this First Day Cover was issued and that appropriated featured Joshua Chamberlain in the Cochrane cachet.


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