Tom Chamberlain boasts that they took prisoners. Longstreet hears from Goree that Longstreet, not Lee, is being blamed for the defeat at Little round Top. After a report that some 8, men are down, he is heartened by the arrival of General Pickett and his 5, troops. Despite Confederate losses, as well as the three Union corps established in the hills, Longstreet sees a weak spot in the Union lines. Lee thinks of the fight as a close one, even as Longstreet mourns the loss of one-third to one-half of their fighting forces.
The arrival of Jeb Stuart, after his failure to scout the Union position, prompts other generals to demand his court-martial. Early Friday morning, Lee works on a plan for his troops, even as he suffers from chest pain. Lee decides to strike the Union forces the next day.
Since the Union had been hit on both sides and would be reinforced there, he would send Pickett and his men straight to the center where they would be weakest. At dawn, a battle had started in the north, and Chamberlain, whose men need food, water, rest, and ammunition, feels relieved that the fighting was somewhere else. Expecting them to have to fight until they fall, he is surprised to hear that replacements are on the way, and that his men have been reassigned to what appears to be the safest spot on the battlefield—the center of the line.
Michael Shaara Biography
He directed Longstreet to take three divisions—a total of 15, fighters—to capture the hill, to march upward to a clump of trees at the center of the ridge. Lee estimates Union strength at the center to be no greater than 5, men. Longstreet passes the order along to his generals—Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble. Hancock is at the top of the hill, commanding Union forces. After reaching the wall and climbing over to the Union side, Armistead is hit, and as he dies, learns that Hancock has been hit as well.
Pickett and other commanders lose most of their men in the battle. As the survivors pull back, Lee finally admits his error to Longstreet, who gives his order to retreat. In a war for Italian independence, the Battle of Solferino was unexpected: Neither side knew the exact position of the other troops. Such heavy losses resulted 29, killed or wounded, 4, missing or captured that the battle led to the establishment of the International Red Cross.
Forty percent of the Light Brigade dies in that attack. Why would he greet an enemy in this way? How could Armistead and Hancock, on opposite sides of the fight, become close friends? Why did officers under Lee want J. Stuart courtmartialed? Throughout The Killer Angels , Arthur Fremantle expresses admiration for the Confederacy and its similarities to England: its officers, the style of fighting, Southern cuisine and culture.
Two philosophies on leadership emerge from the following quotes in The Killer Angels : Chamberlain remember the teachings of "old Ames" : "Two things an officer must do, to lead men…. You must show physical courage. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. What strengths emerged when either of these philosophies were employed? What weaknesses were revealed? The single reference to Native Americans has to do with a joke about cigar smoke and fat men.
The focus here is on male citizens of European descent. Readers might be encouraged to flesh out this skeletal picture of Civil War participation. For further reading: Bakeless, John, Spies of the Confederacy. Philadelphia and New York: J. Lippincott Co. Blight, David W. Book Review Digest, New York: Citadel Press, Garden City, NY: Doubleday, New York: Vintage Books, New York: Four Winds Press, McPherson, James M.
New York: Ballantine Books, New York: Clarion Books, Pfanz, Harry W. The action in both novels occurs through the experiences of the same characters used by Michael Shaara in "The Killer Angels. One reason is its underlying faithfulness to historically accurate character portrayals, and accountings of the major turning points in the Gettysburg battle. It is no exaggeration to claim that the experience of immersing oneself into this book will give any curious reader inspiration to want to know more about the Civil War.
For those who think the reading of history must always be boring, this book will dissuade those notions. Civil War writing just doesn't get any better. View 2 comments. Oct 21, Darwin8u rated it it was amazing Shelves: aere-perennius , I read this with my 13 year-old son and 12 year-old daughter and it was amazing. My kids loved it just as much as I did. It was tight, character-driven, and dramatic. Imagine my surprise when my kids are discussing the virtues of Team Chamberlain smart, honorable, thoughtful, a natural leader VS Team Longstreet Brilliant, ahead of his time, brooding, quiet.
The Civil War is one of those historical periods that is a bit anachronistic to me. It has elements of romance, chivalry, honor, gentility mixed in with the horrible stench of a modern, brutal war. There are characters like Lee, Chamberlain, Pickett, Stuart, etc.
Add to this, the fact that these were real men, with real failings, fighting real friends and the book almost seems to narrate itself. Anyway, this is a top-shelf war novel -- it educates, it entertains as much as a war novel can be called entertainment and it is beautiful. There were some paragraphs I wanted Terence Malick to film. View all 6 comments. I would guess he knows what he's talking about, but I've known many people to read it over the years. Of course, I lived only a couple of hours from Gettysburg which languished for years.
Only recently has a real concerted effort been made to upgrade the facilities there led in a large part by Bob Kinsley. I certainly don't believe Jeff's claim that his father was the first author to publish historical fiction of this sort. I hate it when people make claims like this.
It doesn't do the book any favors. I had to take a break in the middle because it got to me. I'm glad I continued, though. The main themes of the battle are personalized. I'm listening to this in July, the same month as the battle was fought, sweating my butt off doing light chores. The only problem was that I didn't have a very good map of the area in my head, so I went looking for one.
I didn't. After referring to it once, I didn't need to again. If you get a few of the main places in your head, the story is easy enough to follow. The Wikipedia entry is very good for an overview, too. The afterword sketches out what happened to the main players that survived the battle. Many of their endings were tragic, but there were a few happy ones. View all 7 comments. I've read the book twice, it is a very moving historical novel. The Killer Angels relates the thoughts and motivations of the leaders in the battle of Gettysburg, as well as details of the crucial actions across the battlefield over three days, as experienced by the leaders and soldiers.
Of particular interest are the depictions of the Confederate leaders Lee, Longstreet, Pickett, et al. Longstreet is presented as arguing against the decision by Lee to take the battle to the Union forces, who h I've read the book twice, it is a very moving historical novel. Longstreet is presented as arguing against the decision by Lee to take the battle to the Union forces, who had the defensive advantage of the high terrain in the battle. In Longstreet's view, Lee is assuming the role in the battle which he always strove previously to force the Union into taking, that of attacking a good defensive position.
Lee appears to realize at some level that Longstreet is right, but judges that there is a good chance of success, and that success here can turn the war decisively in the South's favor. Shaara's narration of the battle's details make it clear that during the first two days many parts of the action could have gone either way, that it was a very close thing. But Pickett's charge on the third day, although it seemed to get very close to succeeding, in reality had little chance of success.
I can see that some readers could feel that there is just too much psychological speculation in the book. Certainly the thoughts presented are speculative, as they are in any historical fiction. The words could be less so, if they are at times based on written recollections. But the overall feeling is of such intense realism that it is easy to forget that the book is, after all, a novel, not a work of historical scholarship, though Shaara no doubt engaged in much historical research in writing the work.
For example, his portrayal of Longstreet as a reluctant participant in Lee's overall strategy at Gettysburg is almost certainly accurate, since Longstreet was viewed for decades after the war by Southerners as almost a traitor, particularly by the "Lost Cause" partisans, due to this very well-known reluctance at Gettysburg. To this reader, the novel brings the battle to life in a way that no other book I have read on Gettysburg has done. View all 11 comments. Mar 05, Ron rated it it was amazing.
I was reminded about this book while listening to a podcast the other day. The guy mentioned The Killer Angels and I immediately thought about how much I had liked it and about my stepdad. You should read it. But the second thing I thought about was my dad loving a book. So okay I thought, I will try it. Wow, is all I really need to say at this point. Sharra created something amazing here. His words caused me to think about the individual man. Not what I had expected at all. View all 15 comments. Linda Your review really touched my heart,Ron.
I love that you can link such a moving book to your dad. It is a favorite of mine as well. Brought me to tear Your review really touched my heart,Ron. Brought me to tears. Ron Linda wrote: "Your review really touched my heart,Ron. Brou Linda wrote: "Your review really touched my heart,Ron. I know the book would have been special without those memories of Dad.
It's just that good, as you know. But, being linked to him is always what I'll remember, and so glad of that. Nov 17, Julie rated it really liked it Shelves: book-club , pulitzer-prize-for-fiction-winner. If I hadn't been sitting in a puddle of my own tears from so much personal tragedy, I'd probably have given this five stars instead of four. Another time, I could have simply focused on the excellent writing and superior character development.
I was a bit too weighted down to give this historical novel the completely objective read I felt it deserved. I never knew that being inside of Robert E. Lee's head would make me feel so sad, so damn sad. I never knew I could alternate sides so quickly in m If I hadn't been sitting in a puddle of my own tears from so much personal tragedy, I'd probably have given this five stars instead of four.
I never knew I could alternate sides so quickly in my compassion: one moment cheering for the North to take it, the next minute, unexpectedly hoping the South would prevail. During this read, I fell, simultaneously, in love with the North's Joshua Chamberlain and the South's James Longstreet, and realized, for the first time, how profoundly the Civil War damaged our nation's landmarks and natural beauty.
I believe this book may have most accurately depicted the total and complete division, not only between families and soldiers, but between the leaders, who had forged tight bonds in school and in previous battles, where they had fought on the same side. This is a truly humanistic view of our civil war, and Shaara did not drop the ball in re-telling it. View 1 comment. Feb 15, A. Gayle rated it it was amazing Shelves: shelf Normally when I hear a book won a major literary prize I run screaming in the opposite direction, but the topic has always interested me and the way the author dealt with the subject had me turning the pages like a novel.
Being an Aussie, the American Civil war was just something I was taught at school, it had no real relevance. Undoubtedly, US citizens have a totally different perspective from their much closer connection. So I understand if for some of you the book is overload of stuff you've b Normally when I hear a book won a major literary prize I run screaming in the opposite direction, but the topic has always interested me and the way the author dealt with the subject had me turning the pages like a novel.
So I understand if for some of you the book is overload of stuff you've been exposed to all your life. Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is not a new book, in fact it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction back in It's based on the Battle of Gettysburg and looks at the action through the eyes of the significant characters of the different stages of the short but bloody battle.
In presenting history like this, the reader is very dependant on trusting the author to have done his research and is not cheating by switching a character's motivations or aims to fit the "story". In fact at times, I was imagining how Steven Spielberg would have filmed this. Would he have "killed off" certain characters just to make the drama more poignant?
It did read more like a novel. I couldn't wait to find out whether both Chamberlain brothers survived or whether Lee would ever admit his tactics were wrong. If we can make the assumption that the author just "gives us the facts Ma'am", then after reading "Killer Angels" you definitely get a better insight not only into why one side lost and one side won, or why so many men were killed in senseless attacks, but it also tells you something about the stubbornness, courage and faith men can demonstrate. To me the whole scenario in which the battle was fought seemed more like two macho guys arm wrestling in a pub to see who would take the pretty girl home.
But maybe that's the whole point. The battle was senseless in some ways. This wasn't for control of a strategic position or to capture a town and its produce, this was a war of attrition to see who could continue to field more men into the fight as carnage whittled away the numbers.
Almost as if there was an underlying vote involved, but in this case, the winner was the one who could put the most bodies on the line. The characters of the men involved shine through and in an epilogue we find out what happened to them afterwards. Having got to know them from the excellent way Michael Shaara got inside their heads to explain why they acted the way they did, we can extrapolate out how the rest of their life would have gone from the few facts included.
If more history was told like this, we'd all be clamoring to learn it at school. When I was young my parents took us to Gettysburg a few times and for some reason, I really fell in love with the landscape and the reverberating sense of history. Just walking in the fields and woods where these battles took place is a rather striking feeling and whenever I read this book, I am immediately and fully reminded of that feeling. Each day of the battle is brought to full life with detailed accounts of the army's movements and how different soldiers played key roles in each turn of events.
It's gripping because it's not just a point-by-point account but rather it is woven into one cohesive tale showing the passions of soldiers on both sides. A definite must-read for any civil war buff. May 24, Quirkyreader rated it really liked it. Possible spoilers To me the end seemed hurried and muddled. The descriptive writing that the story started out with changed, and just became a rush to the end. I even missed the climax of the story because of the muddled writing.
I would have missed out on more if I had not studied about this battle before. Shaara did his best to make this story and interesting read and it even won a Pulitzer Prize, but it could have been even better. Feb 07, Mmars rated it it was amazing. What a magnificent book. Thanks to GR friend T for the review that inspired me to read it. Though the battle scenes are stellar, it is the way Shaara touches everything else that makes this book special. Here is one brief passage. Then he climbed the ladder into the white cupola and sat listening to the rain, watching the light come.
The air was cool and wet and delicious to breathe: a slow, fine, soaking What a magnificent book.
The Killer Angels Teacher’s Guide
The air was cool and wet and delicious to breathe: a slow, fine, soaking rain, a farmer's rain, gentle on the roof. The light came slowly: there were great trees out in the mist. Then the guns began. This is poetry. The "boyish" faces, the "white" cupola, the dawning, the gentle rain.
The purity and innocence before battle. The commanding officer climbs the ladder and sits listening and watching. Buford breathes it all in, "slow", "slowly", knowing it cannnot last. There are no farmers in that field, nor is there a safe roof under which to hide. Only an empty field, outside a small town in Pennsylvania, July 1, And then, too soon These viewpoints also present the tactics of warfare, and the process of decision making that are universal to all wars.
Which has changed of course. No longer hopefully never again do waves and waves of men charge and fall, charge and fall and there are forms of technology that enable decision making. But the thought processes, feelings, and injury and death - the humanization and dehumanization, that is what I take from this book. View all 9 comments. Mar 31, Mackey rated it it was amazing Shelves: my-reviews , historical-fiction , history-politics. An extremely well researched albeit fictional account of one the most bloody and deadly battles in American history. Its lessons are relevant and far reaching even today.
Mar 28, Lynn rated it liked it Recommends it for: History buffs, people who want to learn US history in a fictional format. Shelves: historical-fiction. I wanted to really like this book in its entirety, but I got bogged down in the specific tactics of the battle of Gettysburg. I tried to study the maps and think about the positions of the various divisions The Killer Angels was a very insightful, inspiring way to learn about the Civil War.
I feel very blessed that there were men of strong convictions who fought horrific battles, who suffered terrible injuries and losses, who ended up keeping this country together. In fact, between reading this book and Founding Brothers: the Revolutionary Generation, I feel I have a much better understanding of the fragility of our early country and of the heroism of our founders and the men who fought valiantly to create and preserve a new type of government. Dec 25, Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly rated it it was ok.
Why they fought, how they fought, how they looked like, what happened afterwards, what happened before the battle, why Robert E. Lee was so popular despite the mistakes he made here , why Abraham Lincoln had to go there after and make his Four Scores and Seven Years Ago speech one of the most hated then during college because some professors of ours made some of us memorize this as an assignment without teaching us the circumstances behind the speech --all these are not made too clear in this Why they fought, how they fought, how they looked like, what happened afterwards, what happened before the battle, why Robert E.
Lee was so popular despite the mistakes he made here , why Abraham Lincoln had to go there after and make his Four Scores and Seven Years Ago speech one of the most hated then during college because some professors of ours made some of us memorize this as an assignment without teaching us the circumstances behind the speech --all these are not made too clear in this historical novel which has a very high average rating here with 36, ratings.
Informative, I say, but not memorable. View all 3 comments. Jun 13, Ted rated it it was amazing Shelves: americana. Each chapter has a title naming one of the commanders involved in the battle. There are considerable imaginary thoughts of the commanders interwoven into the narrative, many of which are very moving. The book starts with an introductory section called Monday, June 29, Only the first of the four chapters of this section takes place on June 29; the others take place mostly on the following day, June 1. The Spy who brings information of the movements of Union forces to General Lee 2.
On June 30 Buford had two cavalry brigades at Gettysburg. I will try to replace this map with one from the book, when I get home. Before the battle began, commanders on both sides had identified the small town of about people as a key strategic location. Wednesday, July 1, Overview map of first day of Battle of Gettysburg.
Wiki July 1. John Buford of the Federals had entered the town with cavalry earlier. Around midday they were joined by infantry reinforcements that he had desperately called for. As more Confederates arrived, they were able to push the Union soldiers back through the town. An attack was made by some of the Southern forces on these positions late in the evening, but it was unsuccessful. These are similar to the tolls for the second day, even though a much smaller part of each army was engaged on July 1. Lee General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia 2.
Buford 3. Lee 4. Chamberlain 5. Longstreet 6. Lee 7. Buford From chapter 4. When he thought of the old man he could see him suddenly in a field in the spring, trying to move a gray boulder. July 2.
Meade had deployed the Union troops that had arrived through the night of July , and early in the morning of July 2, on the two hills where the defensive position had been established on July 1, and along Cemetery Ridge to the south. When it became known where Sickles men were, there was a desperate attempt to reinforce this flank on the hill known as Little Round Top. The southerners, decimated by casualties, worn out, desperate with thirst many had come into the battle with empty canteens, after marching and countermarching for several hours before the late afternoon attack broke, threw down their arms, and were captured by the Maine boys, many of whom had empty guns.
The Union flank held. Chamberlain 3. Longstreet 4.
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Lee From chapter 2. Early in the day, a Negro, an escaped servant from the Reb army, is found by the regiment. Shot by a woman in Gettysburg. A surgeon is called to attend to him. Chamberlain felt a slow deep flow of sympathy. To be alien and alone, among white lords and glittering machines, uprooted by brute force and the threat of death from the familiar earth … to be shipped in black stinking darkness across an ocean he had not dreamed existed … What could the black man know of what was happening? What did he know of the war? And yet he was truly what it was all about.
It simplified to that. Seen in the flesh, the cause of the war was brutally clear.
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Wiki July 3 action. He felt that had the battles gone the way he had planned, he would have already won, already scattered the Army of the Potomac in flight back toward Washington. Perhap managed to cross a forward portion of the stone wall behind which the defenders poured musket and cannon fire into the attackers, and engaged to brutal hand-to-hand fighting. This place, and this last portion of the three-day battle, later became known as the High Tide of the Confederacy.
Casualties: One estimate is 4, Union, 10, Confederate. Chamberlain 2. Longstreet 3. Chamberlain 4.
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Armistead Brigadier General Lewis A. Chamberlain from chapter 4. Garnett, because of a recent injury, was unable to walk; thus rode into the battle against orders, in order to regain his honor, though thus presenting himself as a target. Armistead, Hancock, and their wives had been close friends before the war.
Both these stories are presented at more than one point in the book, building additional information up. Hancock and Armistead had been among a group of Army officers, including wives, who had had a farewell get-together prior to breaking into the two groups going to the Federal and Confederate armies. Very poignant. At this time Armistead had pledged to Hancock that he would never go into battle against him. Now he is breaking his word and leading his brigade against Hancock on the third day.
It is also too drawn out to quote anything meaningful. There was a mass ahead, but it did not seem to be moving. Up there the wall was a terrible thing, flame and smoke. After the Battle There was but one civilian casualty among the Gettysburg residents. But it was mainly the town residents who were left with of job of cleaning up the hundreds of dead horses, thousands of dead bodies; and caring, as best they could, for the hundreds of soldiers wounded too badly to have been taken away by the armies or unnoticed as being among the living till the cleanup.
President Lincoln had only been invited as an afterthought — the main oration was given by Edward Everett, one of the most famous speakers of the time. After a hymn, Lincoln delivered his word address, slowly spoken. This was ignored by many of the reports of the event or simply mentioned without comment. However, Everett himself wrote to Lincoln on the following day, "I should be glad, if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes.
Jan 18, Ann Michael rated it liked it. Actually, I really like this book--I just don't think "It's Amazing" even though I have read it three times. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good read in historical fiction, who is interested in US history and, especially, the Civil War.
Shaara does a good job of sketching the tenor of the times, the sentimentality and the conflicted feelings of the men. It's a terrific book for high school students who might otherwise find the history aspect less than compelling. I think Shaara does a wonderful job with Lee and Chamberlain especially That's one reason the movie "Gettysburg" is a good script as drawn from this book--there are actual characters not historical autobiographies. Why have I read this book so often? Well, I read it once. Then my kids had to read it in high school, so I re-read it then because they wanted to talk about it.
Then I read it again for a historical fiction book discussion group. It's held up to all those readings, as a novel at any rate. Sep 01, Zak rated it really liked it Shelves: fiction. This novel is a fictionalised account of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered by many as the turning point of the American Civil War. It is a very intimate account told through the eyes of the key participants, often moving and the battle scenes, though infrequent, are very vividly told. I was surprised to learn that many of the military leaders involved actually bore little ill-will towards their counterparts, having fought together side-by-side in other wars and wished fervently in their heart This novel is a fictionalised account of the Battle of Gettysburg, considered by many as the turning point of the American Civil War.
I was surprised to learn that many of the military leaders involved actually bore little ill-will towards their counterparts, having fought together side-by-side in other wars and wished fervently in their hearts for the war to end. However, as military men their sense of duty prevailed and they were forced to wage death and destruction on their own brethren. The main message is that any kind of war is a devastating, soul-sucking endeavour but the pain is magnified when it's brother against brother, countryman against countryman.
This novel won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in Feb 27, Louise rated it it was amazing Shelves: us-civil-war , fiction , historical-fiction , pulitzer-prize-winning-author , zre-read. This year I am re-reading some favorite books to see how they match my memory. I read this one more than 30 years ago when I was living in Gettysburg. Last week, I would have said that this was a story of the officers. It was who they were, how they thought and felt. After the re-read I see an equally powerful theme as the story of how the Confederate Army lost the battle and the war due to the chivalrous ideals of its general and a smaller but important theme as the conflicting reasons for fi This year I am re-reading some favorite books to see how they match my memory.
After the re-read I see an equally powerful theme as the story of how the Confederate Army lost the battle and the war due to the chivalrous ideals of its general and a smaller but important theme as the conflicting reasons for fighting. Lee disdained defensive warfare i. He would not use spies i. The reader sees the culmination of this philosophy through the eyes of General Longstreet, who, over three blistering hot days, watches, and cannot stop, the devastation to come.
The author shows how some saw the war as an extension of the Revolution. A British southern sympathizer sees the plantation aristocracy as being right at home in England… they would love Queen Victoria, he thinks. Colonel Chamberlain of the Maine Volunteers sees the vast country open for free men, no kings, queens or aristocracy. Ironically, the horror is recounted in beautiful prose. I remembered this book as the best fiction I had read.
Since that time, many more books and distance from the Battlefield which I once saw every day it is still up there, maybe not the top, but still very high. It is gripping, thought provoking and remains a must read for both Civil War buffs and serious historians. In a town where people debated the number of blue and gray casualties in the peach orchard, discussed the position of the bodies at Devils Den before they were moved to stage photographs and other arcane bits of what happened in , this never came up.
Aug 17, Tosh rated it it was amazing Shelves: am-civil-war , historical-fiction. I had a perpetual lump in my throat while reading, thinking about the men, the friendships, the mistakes, the loss of life, and the stubbornness of the cause. I could literally feel the tragedy of it all in every sentence. Stuart and his stupid pride. The confusion of orders. My heart was overflowing with sympathy and frustration for both sides.
So much responsibility, so muc freedom…is not just a word The Killer Angels is so beautifully written. So much responsibility, so much weight and finality to the decisions. So many lives wasted. Chamberlain was a bright spot within the different perspectives. I had a great deal of respect for his handling of the men of 2nd Maine, his bravery and cool, collected leadership in the face of possible death, and his desire to protect his brother.
It's a very moving story. To be a good soldier you must love the army. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love. That is…a very hard thing to do. No other profession requires it. That is one reason why there are so very few good officers. Although there are many good men… And yet, if they all die, a man must ask himself, will it have been worth it?
There is a map for every significant situation during the three days of battle.
Very handy, as there are many battalions and corps position changes. Officers are labeled in regard to their commands and positions on the battlefield. I would have been lost without them. This is not a book I will easy forget, and my eventual trip to Gettysburg will be more enlightened and rewarding having read it. A human face and emotional fictionalized account of Gettysburg.
Sep 26, David Carr rated it it was amazing Shelves: literary-fiction. I began by talking about the challenges to the reader in The Killer Angels : keeping the geographies and personalities clear, clarifying and grasping the perspectives of North and South, and the simple disadvantage of knowing how the battle comes out. But I also introduced some special challenges to reading about the Civil War itself. Using the first numbers, think of this: , were deaths in battle; , were deaths from disease scurvy, typhus, dysentery, pneumonia, malnutrition : and the Union Army recorded 25, deaths in Confederate military prisons.
The Confederacy had poor medical service, so its losses to disease and wounds were worse. Farm boys were especially vulnerable. Using losses and days, one table provides the deaths-per-day of American wars: For example, in World War II, died each day. In Vietnam, an average of 26 died each day of the war. In the Civil War, people died each day. At the Battle of Gettysburg, the topic of this novel, the 26th Regiment of North Carolina lost of men, on the first day of fighting. The 24th Michigan Regiment lost of men. The 1st Minnesota Regiment lost 82 percent; the st Pennsylvania lost More than horses were killed at Gettysburg.
Although The Killer Angels attends to the generals and colonels in command, none of this blood is missed. The generals could walk or ride to the front line, could see the enemy in its camps, and had clear ideas of imminent reckonings. Shaara is simply brilliant in opening the hearts of his military men, allowing us to grasp their allegiances and to see them weep. To the generals, this is a moral war as well as a mortal one, and therefore it is filled with ambiguities and tensions. It is fought on American soil.
It is fought against former comrades and friends. It is not about territory, kingship, faith, incursion, or transgression. It is largely about punishment, fragility, and shattered interdependence. It is leaden with variables: tactics, troops, geography, weather, arms, food, sleep, leadership, trust.
History, memory, bravery, courage, resolve, loyalty, friendship, and respect are all played out, literally, on the field. Shaara's brilliance lies in his use of the monologue, diary- and letter-like personal perspectives out of the minds and perspectives of Chamberlain and Longstreet the most compelling of the book , and Lee, whose portrait is the most detailed. He is a living saint to his men; they pause, applaud, cheer and sing for him. Bands strike up martial music in his presence. He is a source of tragic awe. General Longstreet sees him arrive early on the morning of the terrible third day of battle: Lee came out of the mists.
He was tall and gray on that marvelous horse, riding majestically forward in the gray light of morning outlined against the sky, the staff all around him and behind him. Lee alone in the center, larger than them all, erect, soldierly, gazing eastward toward the enemy line. He rode up, saluted grandly. Longstreet rose. Lee rested both hands on the pommel of his saddle. The mist thickened and blew between them; there was a ghostly quality in the look of him, of all his staff, ghost riders out of the past, sabers clanking, horses breathing thick and heavy in thick dank air.