Military Wiki
Ellis Spear
Bvt. Brig. Gen. Ellis Spear
Born (1834-10-15)October 15, 1834
Died April 3, 1917(1917-04-03) (aged 82)
Place of birth Warren, Maine
Place of death Washington, D.C.
Place of burial Arlington National Cemetery
Allegiance  United States of America
Service/branch U.S. Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861–1865
Rank Union army brig gen rank insignia.jpg Brevet Brigadier General
Union army lt col rank insignia.jpg Lieutenant Colonel
Commands held Maine 20th Maine Infantry

American Civil War

Other work Patent attorney

Ellis Spear (October 15, 1834 – April 3, 1917) was an officer in the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment who rose to the rank of general during the American Civil War.


Spear was born in 1834 in Warren, Maine where he grew up on his family's farm and attended a Presbyterian church Sunday School. Spear received his higher education at Bowdoin College, graduating in 1858. Spear remained teaching at Bowdoin for four years to pay back his cost of tuition. Eventually Spear studied law, but when the Civil War erupted he became a recruiter and formed Company G of the 20th Maine. Spear was commissioned as a captain, but was quickly promoted to the rank of major, then lieutenant colonel, and later brevetted colonel and brigadier general at the end of the war. At Appomattox Court House in 1865, Spear witnessed the meeting of Grant and Lee during the surrender the Army of Northern Virginia.[1][2]

After the war, Spear became a patent attorney and eventually became the United States Commissioner of Patents and wrote about the war. One author claims that Spear believed that many members of the 20th Maine, particularly Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, exaggerated their roles at the Battle of Gettysburg actions at Little Round Top. His writings provide corroboration to Lieutenant Holman S. Melcher's claims about initiating the charge.[3]

Spear died in Washington, D.C., and was buried with honors at Arlington National Cemetery. His papers were later published by his grandson.

Spear was played by Donal Logue in the 1993 film Gettysburg and by Jonathan Maxwell in Gods and Generals

See also



  1. Spear, Ellis, The Civil War Recollections of General Ellis Spear.
  2. Genealogical and Family History of the STATE OF MAINE, Compiled under the editorial supervision of George Thomas Little, A. M., Litt. D.LEWIS HISTORICAL PUBLISHING COMPANY, New York1909 [1]
  3. Styple, William B. (Ed.), With a Flash of his Sword: The Writings of. Maj. Holman S. Melcher, 20th Maine Infantry, Belle Grove Publishing, 1994.

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