“A soldier has something else to think about”

Joshua Lawrence ChamberlainJoshua Lawrence Chamberlain is my favorite soldier of all time. He fought bravely for the union in the American Civil War and was a humble and educated Christian, a devoted husband and father, and just about the most man I've ever read about.

He survived some terrible battles. He was in the carnage before Marye's Heights at Fredricksburg and he held the line on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. He writes about fear below:

Curious people often ask the question whether in battle we are not affected by fear, so that our actions are influenced by it; and some are prompt to answer, "Yes, surely we are, and anybody who denies it is a braggart or a liar." I say to such, "Speak for yourselves." A soldier has something else to think about. Most men at the first, or [at] some tragic moment, are aware of the present peril, and sometimes flinch a little by the instinct of nature . . . But any action following the motive of fear is rare, – for sometimes I have seen men rushing to the front in a terrific fire, 'to have it over with.'

But, as a rule, men stand up from one motive of another – simple manhood, force of discipline, pride, love, or bond of comradeship – "Here is Bill; I will go or stay where he does." And an officer is so absorbed by the sense of responsibility for his men, for his cause, or for the fight that the thought of personal peril has no place whatever in governing his actions. The instinct to seek safety is overcome by the instinct of honor"

– Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, The Passing of the Armies

2 thoughts on ““A soldier has something else to think about”

  1. Heh – funny Quaid 🙂

    The reference to someone named Bill was purely coincidental (although i'm sure the Bill in the lines next to Chamberlain was one cool homie)

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