Ellis Spear

Promoted in the field, Spear was still wearing Captain straps at Gettysburg as he took the role of acting Major in command of the historic extreme left of the 20th Maine line on Little Round Top. This image by Army Photographers, Gorman & Jordan of Alexandria, Virginia shows Major Spear shortly after the great battle at Gettysburg. He inscribes his photo to a young girl who had been a student in his Sunday School class.

Ellis Spear was a 27 year old resident of Wiscasset, Maine when he enlisted and was commissioned as Captain of a group of Mainers he himself had recruited, Co. G 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry. The date was August 29, 1862. Less than a year later on July 2, 1863 the young Captain would serve as acting Major under fellow Bowdoin graduate Lt. Col Joshua L. Chamberlain as the brave men of the 20th Maine left their mark in history on the rocky slope of Gettysburg’s Little Round Top. In command of the left wing of the regiment that day in that place, Spear’s leadership role would set his name in history. Spear assumed command of the 20th as Chamberlain promoted up soon after Gettysburg and would lead the 20th through most of the war. The capable young officer would rapidly rise through the ranks to Lt. Colonel, Colonel then, before the close of hostilities, Brevet Brigadier General. At Appomattox Court House in 1865, Spear witnessed the meeting of Grant and Lee during the surrender the Army of Northern Virginia.

On a rare respite back to Portland, Spear sits for local
photographer G. M. Howe on Middle Street.  This time the
fast track officer inscribes his image as Colonel of the
hard fought 20th Maine.