Sunday, May 15, 2011

General Ellis Spear recalls Civil War experiences

General Ellis Spear

(write up, courtesy of the JLC CWRT)
A native of Warren , Maine a graduate of Bowdoin College , Class of 1858, General Spear commanded the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment longer than any other officer.

In 1862, he was mustered in as captain of Co. G, commanding more than two dozen of his own recruits, and served at the head of that company until promoted after the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863. Gen’l Spear served in all of the engagements of that regiment from Antietam to Appomattox and mustered out of service in 1865 with the rank of Brevet Brigadier General.

Now the Solicitor of Patents for the government in Washington , D.C. , the general has consented to discuss incidents and anecdotes of his distinguished military career during the Great Rebellion of 1861-1865, now 25 years past.

Following General Spear’s appearance, historian Tom Desjardin will answer questions regarding the 20th Maine Regiment and the Civil War in our country.

Tom Desjardin is a historian whose work focuses on the history of Maine and on the Civil War. He is an 11th generation Maine native and holds a Ph.D. from U Maine. He is a leading expert on the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment and its famous commander Joshua Chamberlain. Tom has been particularly fascinated with Spear’s story since meeting his grandson Abbott Spear in the early 1990s and learning about General Spear’s dry wit and dark, tragic perspective on the Civil War. By appearing as Spear around 1890, Tom will give a first-person perspective on the Civil War and actions of the 20th Maine , including the postwar relationships of the veterans and their differing ways of trying to explain their experiences in combat as well as life in camp during the lulls between battles.

Tom has written four books, appeared in a number of television documentaries, and served as the historical advisor to actor Jeff Daniels in his role as Chamberlain in the movie Gettysburg . He has taught history at Bowdoin College and the University of Maine at Augusta and lived and worked for six years at Gettysburg . He is currently the historian for the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands.

For more info, please go to

For those interested, some members will be dining at Telly's prior to the meeting. To dine with us, please RSVP by Thursday at 6:30 to ensure room at the table. Those who come unannounced make for a crowded dining experience.

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