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Tom Chamberlain is Joshua Chamberlain's brother. He refers to Joshua Chamberlain by his middle name, Lawrence, which annoys his brother, since it sounds too familiar. Chamberlain wants Tom to speak to him more formally, addressing him as a colonel in order to keep things equal among his men. He doesn't want it to look like there's any family favoritism going on.
Hey, if you're fighting for equality, you need to have equality in your ranks, too, right?
Tom is a pretty good conversation partner: he helps shed light on the meaning of the war—and on the fact that it's all about slavery. He seems like a nice enough dude, kind of a classic younger brother figure. At one point, Chamberlain even uses Tom to plug up a hole in the line as the Confederates attack—surprising himself in the process with his ability to use his own brother as a chess piece.