These are the words of Joshua Chamberlain, the Union hero who won the Congressional Medal of Honor for the defense of Little Round Top on the second day of fighting at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863. His unit the 20th Maine was the last unit on the left end of the Union line. They had to hold or the Confederates would have been able to outflank the Union Army and destroy it. Robert E Lee believed if he could defeat the Union at Gettysburg the North would allow the Southern States to leave the Union. Chamberlain's story is featured in the Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and in the film Gettysburg that was based on this book.
"In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays. Forms change and pass; bodies disappear, but spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision-place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to see where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field to ponder and dream; And lo! the shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into their souls."
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: 20th Maine,speaking 26 years later at the dedication of the Monument to the 20th Maine, October 3, 1889, Gettysburg, PA