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The Inability to Do Nothing

August 3, 2015 - Daniel Gottron
Volume 1 - Issue 3: The Inability to Do Nothing

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin is one of the most significant and celebrated figures of the American Civil War, credited with turning the tide of both the Battle of Gettysburg and the entire war.

Chamberlin was not a soldier by trade, in fact, he was an English professor at Bowdoin College in Maine. However, he was named after famous American Revolution figure Captain James Lawrence, who famously declared “don’t give up the ship!”, and Chamberlin most certainly lived up to his namesake.

When America broke out into civil war, Chamberlin approached the governor of Maine, Israel Washburn, with his intent to enlist. Chamberlin stated to Washburn that “I have always been interested in military matters and what I do not know in that line, I am willing to learn.”

Chamberlin soon found himself in charge of the 20th Maine Regiment, which was made up of men left over from other fighting units. While other units across the state were celebrated, the 20th received no recognition.

By the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, the unit was made up of only 266 soldiers and was considered a weak link in the Union army. Their only reinforcements came in the form of 120 veterans from the disbanded 2nd Infantry Division, bringing the total number of fighting men to 386.

During the battle, Chamberlin and his men were positioned on the high ground at Little Round Top and were commanded to hold their position at all costs. Early in the fighting, 44 men were cut off from the group, and Chamberlin was left with 314 men. He and his men valiantly held off three charges from Confederate troops numbered in excess of 4,000 men.

It was at this point, low on ammunition, and facing a fourth Confederate attack, that one of the greatest American war stories has its roots. Outnumbered and against all odds, Chamberlin gave the command “Follow me boys, bayonets forward,” beginning the offensive charge that shocked the Confederates and changed the tide of Gettysburg, the Civil War, and American History.

Chamberlin is widely, and correctly, credited for his leadership in this moment, but there is much more to it than one man. By himself, Chamberlin is just a crazy person charging to his certain death. In other words Chamberlin would have ended up a minor figure in a major Union disaster.

It is only in the context of the other 300 or so men that the story of Joshua Chamberlin can be fully appreciated and understood. It was only with the efforts of other officers and the rank and file soldiers that the 20th was able to succeed.

There are several notable examples from the battle that illustrate this point. Before the plan to charge had even been hatched, Color Sgt. Andrew Tozier remained upright and firm in the face of bullets whizzing by his head. His bravery became the rallying point for the rest of the 20th and all involved felt that they would have lost the battle if it were not for his bravery.

Another significant support in the defense of Little Round Top was 1st Lt. Holman Melcher. He was the first person who sprung to action after Chamberlin’s command, and many believe he helped formulate the plan to charge. Additionally, when the charge briefly stalled, Melcher sprung forward, inspiring the rest with calls to “Come on! Come on boys!”

There are numerous other accounts of the bravery and heroics of officers and soldiers in the 20th, and the one thing that is most stands out about all of them is the cohesiveness and authority with which action was taken.

Many of the soldiers never actually heard the command to charge, they simply charged because they heard others doing it. Once the command was given and they begin to charge, everyone quickly knew, whether they heard the command or not, what the significance of the call to charge was. In the chaos of battle, without ammunition to defend, and with the clanging of metal bayonets being put together, every member of the 20th Maine Regiment understood and embraced the significance of the situation.

When the dust settled, and 300 volunteer soldiers had changed the course of American History, it was not just Joshua Chamberlin’s victory, it was the victory of all the members of the 20th and it could not have happened without all of their commitment.

I can relate very much to Chamberlin and his men. Of course we are not fighting a war here at Hundred, we are educating students; but there are many parallels, and as a school we will be well served to rise to the example set by these men.

This particular group of soldiers hits especially close to our core, as they were a small and determined force that was able to withstand challenge from a much larger opponent. With each passing week, and with each outstanding accomplishment by our students and staff, our resolve grows stronger and our ability to move our school forward grows greater. Just this week, we were selected to present at the statewide student success summit, which is a statewide education summit held each summer.

The heights we have begun to reach are not the result of individual or isolated efforts, and much like the efforts of Tozier and Melcher were vital to the success of the 20th, the efforts of the students, staff, and community members featured in this blog each week are vital to the success we are experiencing as a school.

When he was asked after the war about his success on the battlefield, Joshua Chamberlin said of himself: “Their leader had no real knowledge of warfare or tactics. I was only a stubborn man and that was my greatest advantage in this fight. I had, deep within me, the inability to do nothing.”

As principal, I must say that I find deep within myself this same inability to do nothing. I charge into every day with this deep rooted mantra, and I know that many of the staff, students, and community members who are building a great school feel the same way. This inability to do nothing has taken us to great heights, and we have only just begun to fly.

Staff News

Mrs. Alaina Campbell has rejoined our staff this week after an absence of several months. We are very happy to have Mrs. Campbell back in the halls of HHS. Welcome back!

Mr. Ryan May organized our first annual school health fair, held Tuesday March 17, and the health fair was a resounding success. Thank you to Mr. May for all of your hard work, everyone in attendance on Tuesday had a great time and it was great to see a great idea become a reality.

Mrs. Denise Huggins always seems to be in the middle of every successful event here at the school. The HHS health fair was no exception, as she worked with both her food and nutrition and human development classes to participate in the health fair. Thank you to Mrs. Huggins for your contributions to a great event.

Mrs. Rebecca Spicher is always looking for ways for our students to test their academic skills against the best competition. Last week she took our quiz bowl team to River High School to compete in a school quiz bowl. Thank you to Mrs. Spicher for organizing this chance for our students to compete against their peers.

Mr. Scott Ash is also very involved in giving our students opportunities to compete. This week, he took a group of students to the regional scholastic competition at Cameron High School. Thank you to Mr. Ash for giving our students this opportunity to compete.

Ms. Katie Wright our school nurse gave up her evening in order to provide blood pressure screenings at the health fair. Nurse Katie has been a great addition to our staff and we are glad to have her at HHS. Thank you to Nurse Katie for your dedication to our school and community!

Student Spotlight

Our Health Fair Students did an outstanding job this week. They are pictured below with their projects. Somehow Miranda Gray, Airadeea Williams, Stephen Courtwright, and Kathy Cork managed to avoid the camera, so their pictures will be added to the blog post.

Haliey Eastham and Madeline Goff presented about the dangers of lung cancer

Justin Pletcher and Richard Youkum presented on the drug abuse problems and consequences facing West Virginia

Libbie Baker and Valerie Soles presented on the importance of physical fitness for life

Brittany Tustin and Ally Sayer presented on the dangers of heroin

Tyler Norris and Devon Kimble presented on healthy eating and the food pyramid

Taylor Fetty and Annie Fox present on the dangers of risky sexual behavior

Food and Nutrition students Caleb Singer, Jordan Saxton, and Victoria Stevens served up some healthy snack options

Human Development students Katrina Matthews and Kenli Barr presented information on the human lifespan Community Support

The newest section of our Blog, we would like to start recognizing all of the wonderful family and community support that makes our school a great place. This was especially evident in the tremendous participation of our community in the health fair.

Amanda McPherson of Wetzel County Office of Child Nutrition

Trina Fetty and Marilyn Kennedy with an exhibit on the dangers of tobacco use

Adele Armstrong represented the Complete Health Improvement Program (CHIP)

Virginia Greathouse from Wetzel County EMS

We were joined by the Marion County Rescue Squad

Fairmont Regional Medical Center

Aaron Hoekje and Megan Moore from the Burton Clinic

Amy Miller and Robin Bragg from First Exchange Bank

Alumni Spotlight

Dr. Carl Long - Dr. Long was the valedictorian of the class of 1956. He continued his outstanding academic performance during his time as a student at West Virginia University. As a freshman, he was one of the top ten in his class and received the Whitehall Key for the highest score on a chemistry exam. He became a member of the Omega Chi Epsilon chemical engineering honors society, the Phi Lambda Upsilon chemistry honors society, and the Tau Beta, Pi engineering honor society. He earned a bachelor of science in engineering in 1960 and was also commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in 1960. Dr. Long then attended graduate school for chemical engineering at the University of Illinois where he earned his masters degree in 1962 and his PhD in 1965. During his career, Dr. Long spent three years in the Air Force, where he researched ceramic coatings for re-entry vehicles and the vulnerability of aircraft fuel systems to gunfire. He was employed by the E.I. Dupont company for 34 years working in Richmond, Va, Tecumseh, Kansas, and Parkersburg, WV. In his work, Dr. Long was active in research and development in packaging films and molding plastics, supported starting up plastics manufacturing plants in Belgium and Japan, provided operational assistance to a manufacturing plant in the Netherlands, and provided design data for a plastic manufacturing plant in China. Dr. Long retired in 1999. Dr. Long will be one of the inaugural recipients of our distinguished alumni award and will be recognized at graduation and again at the alumni dinner in the fall. We are proud to call Dr. Carl Long a Hundred Hornet. Classroom Strategy of the Week

Use of Music as an instructional tool - The use of music is an excellent way to enhance instruction and student retention of information. Whether it is a classic educational product like "Schoolhouse Rock" or a modern parody song such as Weird Al Yankovic's "Word Crimes," a well put together piece of music can really transform a classroom lesson into something memorable. The Website Songs for Teaching has links to a number of articles on the reasons and benefits for using music in the classroom. There are a number of resources for effective use of music in the classroom, some of which are free and some of which are subscription based. One site that I have used with great effectiveness is the website Flocabulary which has a number of excellent music resources for numerous content areas.

Quote of the Week

“Their leader had no real knowledge of warfare or tactics. I was only a stubborn man and that was my greatest advantage in this fight. I had, deep within me, the inability to do nothing.” – Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin

Remember to follow our school on Twitter @HundredHornets

Check out our school website:

Thank you for all you do as a part of our school and community. True flight would not be possible without the contributions of all of us. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or information you would like included in an upcoming edition of the Flight of the Hornet: 304-775-5221 or Dan Gottron, Principal, Hundred High School


Brann, James R. "Defense of Little Round Top." Civil War Trust, 1 Nov. 1999. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. .

Derrick, Evan. "Lessons in Purpose and Leadership From the Civil War." Beliefnet. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. .

"Flocabulary Is Educational Hip-Hop." Flocabulary. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. .

"Joshua Lawrence Chamberlin." Civil War. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. .

Pappano, Laura. "Is Your First Grader College Ready?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 7 Feb. 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. .

"Research on How Music Promotes Learning." Research on How Music Promotes Learning. Songs for Teaching. Web. 25 Mar. 2015. .


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