“My All Sufficient Savior”—A Hymn of Joshua Chamberlain

Verse 1

My all-sufficient Savior – I find myself in Thee
My filthy rags my glory, your grace my only plea
I boast in my affliction, the flag of Kingdom come
My heart explodes with vision – crescendo made from love

My all-sufficient Savior My strength in you alone
Let courage find me faithful and bring me safely home

Verse 2

My all-sufficient Savior – I lift my humble praise
My reigning King forever, my banner Lord I raise
I hope in only Jesus, my Fortress and my friend
My Alpha and Omega, beginning and the end

Verse 3

My all-sufficient Savior – my life I gladly bring
In death I am victorious because of Calvary
My magnificent atonement my sin forever lost
My freedom and my honor my glory is my cross


jlcAlmost a year after his defense of Little Round Top, Chamberlain led his men against Confederate defenses near Petersburg, Va, at a place called Rive’s Salient.

Raising his sword to order a leftward oblique, a Minié ball ricocheted off a rock at his feet, smashing into his side. The lead bullet entered his right hip, passing obliquely upward through bladder and urethra, eventually emerging in the pubic area near the head of the femur.  Blood pooled around his feet.

Fearing that his men would lose heart, Chamberlain jammed his saber into the ground to help him remain upright.  With continued loss of blood, however, “weakness overcame his willpower and he fell to the ground.”

His artillery commander saw Chamberlain fall, immediately dispatching 4 men with a stretcher.  Believing the wound fatal, Chamberlain ordered them to care for the other wounded men around him.  Bleeding into the Virginia soil for almost an hour, he remembered thinking of his mother as life drained out of him.  When a nearby shell burst, the stretcher bearers carried Chamberlain off the field.  Having poured out so much blood into Virginia’s clay soil, Chamberlain would later joke, “I am not of Virginia blood, but she is of mine.”

frances-fanny-chamberlainWhen he finally arrived at the field hospital, 3 miles in the rear, Chamberlain asked the surgeons to leave him and see to the soldiers first.  Gut wounds were almost fatal and Chamberlain knew it.  Asking the doctors for a piece of paper, he penciled one final note to his wife Fanny:

“My darling wife I am lying mortally wounded the doctors think, but my mind & heart are at peace. Jesus Christ is my all-sufficient savior. I go to him. God bless & keep & comfort you, precious one, you have been a precious wife to me. To know & love you makes life & death beautiful. Cherish the darlings & give my love to all the dear ones. Do not grieve for me. We shall all soon meet. Live for the children. Give my dearest love to father, mother & Sallie & John. Oh how happy to feel yourself forgiven. God bless you evermore precious precious one, Ever yours Lawrence.”

But the anticipated end never came.  Ignoring his requests to tend to others, the surgeons began an unprecedented open wound surgery.  Toiling through the night, the surgeons reconnected severed urinary organs and removed the Minié ball.  After the surgery, they could offer Chamberlain only a slight chance of recovery.

For weeks it appeared he wouldn’t make it, but somehow, miraculously, he survived—no doubt helped by the nursing of his wife Fanny who had rushed to his side despite being pregnant.  Despite Fanny’s objections, Chamberlain returned to the battlefield within a few months and was again leading his brigade.

During the course of the war, Chamberlain was wounded six times and fell gravely ill twice. He returned to the Union Army each time, eventually receiving the surrender of the Confederate infantry at Appomattox.  Confederate Infantry Commander, John Gordon, would call Chamberlain “one of the knightliest soldiers in either army.”

During our leadership conference, we use this story to point out the sincere faith of many of the soldiers, both North and South.  Chamberlain’s confidence in the face of death rested in part on his relationship with Jesus Christ, his all-sufficient Savior, and his confidence in the forgiveness of his sin won by Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary’s hill.  He would write later:

This is the great reward of service, to live, far out and on, in the life of others; this is the mystery of Christ, – to give life’s best for such high sake that it shall be found again unto life eternal.

Source: Journal of Urology