The 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry was formed in August of 1862. The men of Company G.; recruited by Ellis Spear of Warren, were farmers, fishermen, merchants, loggers and students from Lincoln and Sagadahoe Counties on the central coast of Maine. The 1000-man regiment was outfitted and trained in weeks and assigned to the Fifth Corps of the Army of the Potomac. They saw their baptism of fire at Fredricksburg in 1862 and went on to participate in every major campaign of the Army of the Potomac.
Their most famous engagement was at Little Round Top during the second day of Gettysburg. There, Commanded by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, with orders to "Hold until the Last," the 235 "men from Maine" withstood an onslaught of over 600 Alabamians determined to turn the Union left flank. Fighting was so fierce that the trees were shot in pieces. Hand-to-hand combat ensued as the determined Alabamians repeatedly pressed the attack. Finally, with their ammuntion almost gone, their dead and wounded lying all around, the Mainers fixed bayonets and charged down hill at the startled Confederates. This desperate and courageous maneuver completely overwhelmed the Alabamians. The tiny 20th Maine, with a "professor turned soldier" for a commander, had held the extreme left flank of the Union army in an almost impossible situation, against overwhelmong odds, in the largest and most important battle ever fought on American soil. Books and films have brought the story to life.