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Joshua L. Chamberlain. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-1859).

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Chamberlain, Joshua Lawrence (08 September 1828–24 February 1914), soldier, politician, and educator, was born in Brewer, Maine, the son of Joshua Chamberlain, a farmer and shipbuilder, and Sarah Dupee Brastow. After attending a military academy in Ellsworth, Chamberlain entered Bowdoin College in 1848, graduating in 1852. Three years later, after graduating from the Bangor Theological Seminary, he joined Bowdoin’s faculty and taught a broad range of subjects, including logic, natural theology, rhetoric, oratory, and modern languages. In 1855 he married Frances Caroline Adams; of the couple’s five children, three survived to adulthood....

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Cox, Jacob Dolson (27 October 1828–08 August 1900), Union general and Republican political figure, was born in Montreal, Canada, the son of Jacob Dolson Cox, Sr. (whose family name was originally Koch), a New York builder, and Thedia Redelia Kenyon. Cox’s family had moved to Montreal, where his father supervised construction of the Basilica of Notre Dame; they returned to New York City shortly after Jacob’s birth. The family’s financial reverses in the wake of the depression of 1837 forced young Cox to curtail his formal education. He clerked for New York City lawyers and bankers while pursuing a rigorous course of self-study, which by 1846 prepared him to enter Oberlin College. Cox was drawn to Oberlin by Professor (soon to be President) ...

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John Adams Dix. Daguerreotype from the studio of Mathew B. Brady. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-109924).

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Dix, John Adams (24 July 1798–21 April 1879), politician and general, was born in Boscawen, New Hampshire, the son of Timothy Dix, a merchant, and Abigail Wilkins. He received a varied liberal education, including a year at Phillips Exeter Academy and fifteen months at the College of Montreal. At age fourteen, while being tutored in Boston, Dix pleaded to join the army to defend the nation in the War of 1812. His father, a major, helped him to obtain a commission, and he served in battles at Chrysler’s Field (1813) and Lundy’s Lane (1814). His father’s death during the war caused Dix to stay in the army to help support his stepmother and siblings. Serving as an aide to Major General ...

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John F. Hartranft. Seated, center, with his staff. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8171-7758).

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Hartranft, John Frederick (16 December 1830–17 October 1889), Civil War officer and politician, was born near Pottstown, Pennsylvania, the child of Samuel E. Hartranft, a local landowner, and Lydia Bucher, both of German ancestry. He graduated from Union College in 1853 with a degree in civil engineering. About the same time as his marriage to Sallie Sebring (with whom he had one son and two daughters) in 1854, Hartranft changed his life’s vocation to law and politics....

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George B. McClellan. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-62627).

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McClellan, George B. (03 December 1826–29 October 1885), general and presidential candidate, was born George Brinton McClellan in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of George McClellan, a physician, and Elizabeth Steinmetz Brinton. After two years at the University of Pennsylvania, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at age fifteen. Four years later he graduated second in the class of 1846....