It was a wonderful gift. Standing splendidly on the camp parade ground in its full trappings, a beautiful stone-gray stallion, dappled white, with a heavy white main and tail, and well known in the area as “the Staples horse,” awaited its new owner. Two men, one a civilian and the other an army officer, stood for the presentation ceremony about to begin at Camp Mason, near Portland, Maine. Around them the officers and men of Maine’s newest volunteer infantry regiment, the twentieth to be sworn into Federal service from the state since the beginning of the war, were drawn up in a hollow square formation, colorful in their new blue uniforms.
Although used to appearing and speaking in public, Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was a little uncomfortable hearing the phrases of the flattering speech made to him by his friend William Field, who spoke for other friends and townspeople from the college town of Brunswick.
“We beg you to accept this gift … appreciating the sacrifice you have made … that you may be borne on it only to victory … till the spirit of rebellion is crushed and you return, laden with honors”; Field’s words came to him in flowery praise, finally invoking God’s blessing and protection on him during his impending absence.
Chamberlian thanked Field with feeling. His strong resonant voice carried in a rhythmic, almost musical fashion to the officers and men ― nearly a thousand in all ―who were looking on.
“Sir: -― A soldier never should be taken by surprise, and it would be doubly inexcusable in me were I to deem anything surprising in the way of generosity on the part of those whose sentiments and deeds of kindness I have known so long. “I thank you, sir, and through you, my fellow citizens, for this noble gift, and for the …”