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Robert E. Lee

Books: The Killer Angels

Genres: Novel

Authors: Shaara, Michael


The Killer Angels by Michael Sharra tells about the Battle of Gettysburg that took place in the Civil War. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia was invading the North on July of 1863. The Battle of Gettysburg is depicted through the perspectives of General Robert E. Lee who made a daring move with seventy thousand men in an effort to draw out the Union Army of the Potomac and has hurt it severely, General Longstreet, man who is loyal to Lee but stubbornly argues against Lee's plan, Major General John Buford (from the South), General Lewis Armistead, and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain (from the North). Opposing Lee and his men is General George Meade, who has taken command of the Army only two days before what will be perhaps the crucial battle of the Civil War. The book tells of a three day battle that took place in Pennsylvania, for which men were drafted in order to defend freedom.

        The first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, the Confederacy learned more about the Union from a spy that works for the Army of North Carolina, Harrison. Harrison's job was to scout out the Union's positioning and the amount of troops. Harrison reported what he recalled from spying on the Union to General Robert E. Lee. His report included that the Union army was within a range of two-hundred miles of the Confederate's current position. The Union commander was Hooker who was soon replaced by Major General Meade. The information was reliable and Lee attempts to cut off the Union from Washington D.C. by sending troops to Gettysburg.

        The second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee kills Reynolds and made an attack Buford's cavalry. There were disagreements between General Robert E. Lee and General Longstreet about General Ewell's orders. Ewell ignores Lee's orders and does not attack the Union Army and Chamberlain leads his wounded men to surprise one of the Confederate forces and managed to defend Little Round Top.

        The third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee ordered his soldiers to attack the Union in the center. Lee was determined that the center of the Union could not resist their massive blow. Longstreet heeded Lee's orders but it led to serious consequences. Longstreet was defeated and was forced to surrender and General Robert E. Lee was criticized by many for the defeat of the Battle of Gettysburg.

        My opinion of The Killer Angels is that it was confusing to understand the beginning because of the many names that were introduced, but once I got more into depth with the book, I eventually understood the situation. I thought this book was fascinating because it tells another view of the Civil War and how it was fought; more differently than how it was taught in the classroom and shown in the school textbooks. I especially liked the stories of the battles and what happened. I felt as if I was taken back through time to the date of which the battle was taking place. I felt sympathy for those that died and sacrificed in the war.

        The not so exciting parts of the book were some of the conversations. I didn't know what the Generals were talking about and some of the names were hard to remember. The names that were easy to remember were the famous Generals like Robert E. Lee, Longstreet, and General George Meade. Even though I am not yet finished with the book, I feel that I should finish it because I never read a book about the Civil War before and this is the first and most exciting book on an event in History.

        The impact of the Battle of Gettysburg is that this battle was the turning point in the Civil War. It gives us another view of both the North and the South. The South starts out as fighting a defensive war to maintain their freedom while on the other hand, the North fought to gain freedom and independence for the slaves. At the end of the war, both sides realize that there was no point for war. Some of the soldiers themselves did not know the cause of fighting. The Battle of Gettysburg is important because it marked the last time the Confederate army would try to attempt a major invasion of the North. Union forces destroyed their offensive strategies and were forced to fight a defensive war. The Confederate army also realized that they were no match for the North because of the North's many advantages such as: abundant resources, bigger army, railroads, industries, and agriculture.

In the novel The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara focuses on Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine in the days at the battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Killer Angels allows the reader to understand different sides of the civil war. The novel shows a great depiction of the tragedy of war, for example, when Lewis Armistead races into battle, even though he is fighting his best friend, Winfield Hancock, and they both get shot. It really shows the views of each side, and what each character felt. The sense of duty, honor, and the loss of life as well as the unbelievable heroism displayed by both sides in the battle will echo in the minds of every reader.

        This outstanding historical novel depicts days at Gettysburg, which occur during summer of 1863. These days are the turning point of the American Civil War and the strong days of the Confederacy. In just three days of slaughter, there were many casualties. At the beginning, General Robert E. Lee leads a confident, Confederate Army north into Pennsylvania, in hopes of defeating the Union Army by provoking it into an attack. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain leads a desperate charge of the 20th Maine. For Colonel Chamberlain's actions, he later received the Congressional Medal of Honor. This is depiction is so detailed and with such force that the reader is can almost obtain a first hand account of the series of events up until the Union troops defeat the Confederate army.

        At one point, an injured Commander John Buford finishes a battle and goes to the cemetery on the hill. His calvary is almost nonexistent. This scene described Buford's sadness for the loss of his men. On the third and final day of actual conflict, Pickett's Charge was a highlight of the novel. During this run, 15,000 Confederate troops attacked the stable Union force which was spread across almost a mile of open ground. Many men died as a result of this event. The conflicting strategies, which confronted General Lee, led him to order this ill-fated attack. These strategies are then further explained.

In this novel, Shaara offers some insights into the nature of men and war. He states that the war was fought because of differences in cultures and that the Union Army fought, not for plunder, loot, or power, but for the freedom of people. He also makes it clear that the Confederate leaders and soldiers also fought for a different sense of freedom. The conflicts within men, who have vowed to never take arms against each other, find themselves on opposite sides of a battlefield. The book closes with General Lee leading his weakened forces on a retreat south to the safety of Virginia after having lost thousands of men in furious assaults on Union positions.

        Shaara's depiction of the of Gettysburg allows the reader to better understand the courage and loyalty of the soldiers who fought this battle. Not only would one get a thorough sequence of events surrounding this battle, but also have a better understanding of why these soldiers, regardless of which army they defended, fought so valiantly for.

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