Colonel Chamberlain could see no way out. A third of the regiment was down, and most of the rest were out of ammunition, even after scrounging from the wounded and dead of both sides. If they stayed where they were and the Rebs came back up the hill again, they would either have to surrender or be annihilated. Then they’d go right over the top and hit those boys from New York and Pennsylvania on the other side from behind. Can’t retreat; the Rebs would just follow them over the top. He’d already "refused the line" by forming up at ninety degrees from the old line in an attempt to protect his empty left flank, but the attacks were moving steadily to his left, and they’d soon be around that.

The only alternative seemed to occur to him and a couple of his captains almost at once:
"Bayonets! Fix bayonets!"

Men too far away to hear the order heard the clack-clack from men nearer, and saw the 18 inches of cold steel come out. Then the order was passed down the line:
"On Command, by the right wheel, charge!"
"CHARGE!" The left part of the line swung out like a door, using the colors at the angle as a hinge, then the entire line swept diagonally down the hillside, just as the Confederates began their advance. Thinking they were hit in the flank by a fresh regiment, the Rebs retreated. "Little Round Top," and perhaps the battle of Gettysburg, was secured for the Union.
Little Round Top was only the beginning of Chamberlain’s service to his country. By the time the war ended, he’d been wounded six times, once so badly shot through the hips that his name was sent to the Maine papers as KIA. He was cited for bravery in action four times. For heroism at Petersburg he was promoted to Brigadier General, and for heroism at Five Forks he was brevetted Major General. Years later Congress awarded him the Medal of Honor for his actions at Little Round Top.
Chamberlain was selected to command the surrender ceremony of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox on April 12, 1865. As the Confederates approached, he gave an order and a bugle rang out. Snickering, slovenly Union soldiers had to snap to attention, and in succession take their rifles from "order arms" to "carry arms" (rifle held by the right hand straight up, perpendicular to the shoulder and against it) in salute as the Confederates passed.
Confederate General John B. Gordon led the surrendering troops. Like Chamberlain, he was no stranger to bullets. It took five of them to finally bring him down in the sunken road called "Bloody Lane" at Antietam, the last one going through his face and knocking him out. His face had landed in his hat, and he was only saved from drowning in his own blood by a bullet hole in the hat.
Gordon instantly saw what Chamberlain had done. He reared and wheeled his horse around to face him, while lowering his sword to his boot in return salute. Then he signaled for his own men to carry arms as they passed.
Chamberlain had acted in accordance with the attitude of his superiors:
"I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever thought."

Ulysses S. Grant
"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wound…"

Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain died of complications from his hip wound on February 24, 1914, the last Union soldier to die of his wounds.
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