What were Professor Joshua Chamberlain's reasons for joining the military in The Killer Angels?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine before the war, Colonel Joshua Chamberlain had enlisted in the Union army because of a simple belief: the dignity of man. The Southern cause supported slavery, and this Chamberlain could not abide.

This was the land where no man had to bow... The fact of slavery upon this incredibly beautiful new clean earth was appalling, but more even than that was the curse of old Europe, the curse of nobility, which the South was transplanting to new soil... Chamberlain had come to crush it.

He believed that in his United States, unlike in other countries, the American fought for mankind and freedom. He would fight for the people, not the land. Chamberlain also tells his men that joining the army was " 'the right thing to do.' " They would not be fighting for the land, he repeats, but instead for each other.

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