The speech that changed the course of the US Civil War

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Below is from David Taylor's great newsletter The Naked Leader Week. Scroll down to the bottom for how you can subscribe to it.

The speech that rekindled loyalty and arguably won the US Civil War…Was not the Gettysburg address, it was the speech that Colonel Chamberlain gave to a large group of deserters that had been given to him the day before the biggest battle of the entire war. He desperately needed them to join his Northern Maine regiment for the upcoming battle. that battle many historians agree that it was Colonel Chamberlain’s holding of Little Round Top that won the day, and was the turning point in the whole war, in favour of the North.

As you read his speech, made entirely off the cuff, note his skills at using the word “we,” his constant linking of the overall aim of the war with the present choice the men face, and most of all his repeated use of three points together, as he spoke, one of the most powerful techniques in presentations. I have underlined the threes, because of their power.

Colonel Chamberlain approached al of the deserters just after they arrived, and spoke to them together, as a group:

“I’ve been ordered to take you men with me, I’m told that if you (laughs quietly) don’t come I can shoot you. Well, you know I won’t do that. Maybe somebody else will, but I won’t, so that’s that.

Here’s the situation, the Whole Reb army is up that road aways waiting for us, so this is no time for an argument like this, I tell you. We could surely use you fellahs, we’re now well below half strength.

Whether you fight or not, that’s up to you, whether you come along is is…well, your coming.

You know who we are and what we are doing here, but if you are going to fight alongside us there are a few things I want you to know.

This regiment was formed last summer, in Maine.

There were a thousand of us then, there are less than 300 of us now.

All of us volunteered to fight for the Union, just as you have

Some came mainly because we were bored at home, thought this looked like it might be fun

Some came because we were ashamed not to

Many of came because it was the right thing to do

And all of us have seen men die

This is a different kind of army

If you look back through history you will see men fighting for pay, for women, for some other kind of loot

They fight for land, power, because a king leads them, or just because they like killing

But we are here for something new, this has not happened much, in the history of the world

We are an army out to set other men free

America should be free ground, all of it, not divided by a line between slave states and free – all the way from here to the Pacific Ocean

No man has to bow. No man born to royalty

Here we judge you by what you do, not by who your father was

Here you can be something

Here is the place to build a home

But it’s not the land, there’s always more land

It’s the idea that we all have value – you and me

What we are fighting for, in the end, we’re fighting for each other

Sorry, I didn’t mean to preach

You go ahead and you talk for awhile

If you choose to join us and you want your muskets back you can have them – nothing more will be said by anyone anywhere

If you choose not to join us well then you can come along under guard and when this is all over I will do what I can to ensure you get a fair trial, but for now we’re moving out

Gentlemen, I think if we lose this fight we lose the war, so if you choose to join us I will be personally very grateful."

114 out of 120 deserters joined with the regiment immediately, with another 4 joined up later.

SOURCE: David Taylor's weekly email newsletter. You can subscribe here: The Naked Leader

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