Review of "In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War"

Updated on February 6, 2017
J Schatzel profile image

J. Schatzel works in agricultural/occupational medicine in rural upstate NY and has a Masters degree in history.

In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War

Throughout Alice Rains Trulock’s In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War, Trulock argues for the heroic success of Chamberlain in his military, educational, vocational, and familial duties. Using an often passive and uncertain voice, Trulock argues her thesis that due to Chamberlain’s heroic service to the Union army of the Potomac, the 20th Maine became an achiever of “imperishable glory” at Gettysburg and throughout the Civil War. Trulock’s biography of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain emphasizes his strong leadership skills while paying extensive attention to the inadequacies of those around him, such as his fellow soldiers in service to the Union’s 20th Maine.[1]

Emphasizing Chamberlain’s religious convictions and liberal arts education, as well as his political standing “sharpened by the national debate,” Trulock painted a valiant picture of Chamberlain running off to war to fight for his beliefs, leaving behind a loving family and steady job, and risking his life to save the Union of the United States from secession of the American south. Due to his moral position in opposition to slavery, as well as his loyalty to the “greatness of Lincoln’s leadership,” Chamberlain is depicted as a hero of the Civil War. Highlighting such occasions as Chamberlain’s refusal to stop fighting at the Union attack at Petersburg despite being shot through the hip, Trulock uses the writings and correspondence of J. L. Chamberlain to chronologically outline Chamberlain’s participation in the Civil War.[2]

Trulock’s language fails to command the authoritative tone of a professional historian and relies heavily upon speculation and assumptions in her analysis of the life and service of J. L. Chamberlain. In her analysis of Chamberlain beyond his basic biographical details of being an anti-slavery unionist from Maine, Trulock uses weak passive language in her speculations regarding Chamberlain’s life, as shown through such instances as her assumption that Chamberlain “was the kind of man,” or that Chamberlain “surely took care,” or even more bold assertions such as Trulock’s statement that “but with the pain from his wounds undoubtedly limiting the couple’s conjugal relations, Fannie must have lost a great deal of what little influence a wife had.” Similarly, Trulock used unprofessional language throughout her writing, especially throughout her depictions of the various battles and military campaigns in which Chamberlain and the 20th Maine participated. Her failure to successfully and assertively convey the definitive course of the campaigns engaged in by Chamberlain, Trulock used such statements as “they removed the bullet, and at last they managed to patch up and connect things enough that they concluded there might be a chance for recovery.”[3]

Using such primary source documentation as Chamberlain family correspondence and the personal writings of J. L. Chamberlain as evidence, Trulock explains that Chamberlain’s reverence for family agrarian ideals, parental expectations, and exposure to the ideas of intellectuals such as Harriet Beecher Stowe molded Chamberlain into the heroic war-hero figure he became. Although often using an unconvincing language stated in passive voice, Trulock’s In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War conveys that Chamberlain’s charismatic leadership of the 20th Maine led to the support and respect of Chamberlain by his men “in a way that could not be doubted, only pardoned” as men risked their lives at the command and protection of their beloved Chamberlain.[4]

Source

[1] Alice Rains Trulock. In the Hands of Providence: Joshua L. Chamberlain and the American Civil War. (USA: University of North Carolina Press,1992). Pp.22, 64.

[2] Ibid., 61, 82, 188-228.

[3] Ibid., 221, 340, 214.

[4] Ibid. 26, 43, 185.

Special Thanks

Special Thanks to Hartwick College, Oneonta NY, for the use of their beautiful Library!
Special Thanks to Hartwick College, Oneonta NY, for the use of their beautiful Library!

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)