Killer Angels The Battle of Gettysburg brought the dueling North and South together to the small town of Gettysburg and on the threshold of splitting the Union. Gettysburg was as close as the United States got to Armageddon and The Killer Angels gives the full day-to-day account of the battle that shaped Americas future. Michael Shaara tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of the generals and men involved in the action of the battle. The historical account of the Battle of Gettysburg gives the reader a chance to experience the battle personally and not the history book manner taught in schools. A historical novel gives the facts straightforward and provides no commentary by the people involved in history.
The historical account of the Battle of Gettysburg, as seen in Killer Angels, provides the facts of the battle as seen through the eyes of Generals Robert E. Lee, Joshua Chamberlain, James Longstreet, and John Buford. The feelings and inner-thoughts of each General and the conditions of the battle are seen, heard, and felt by the reader in the historical account. Shaara takes historical license with letters, the words of the men, and documents written during the three hellish days of the battle. Shaara avoids historical opinion and provides his own opinion towards the Civil War and the people.
The historical account of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg specifically, in Killer Angels conveys the attitude to toward war, attitude towards the Civil War, and cause for fighting the war of General Robert E. Lee, Joshua Chamberlain, James Longstreet, and John Buford. General Robert E. Lee gained stoic and legendary status as the heart and soul of the South in the Civil War, but many did not know his reasons and feelings for fighting the war. War and the slaughter of others did not interest Lee and he felt compassion for the Union. Lee had contradictory feelings towards war and says, “He was not only to serve in it but he was to lead it, to make the plans, and issue the orders to kill and burn and ruin..he could not do that” (Shaara 263).
The Civil War is not in the taste of General Lee, but feels it is his duty, and he cannot just stand by and watch the war pass him by. Michael Shaara says of Lees reason for fighting the Civil War “, He found that he had no choice..Lee could not raise his hand against his own. And so what then? To stand by and do nothing? It had nothing to do with causes; it was no longer a matter of vows” (Shaara 263). Shaara, through his commentary on General Lee, explains that Lee did not want to fight the war but had to. Lee felt it was his duty to fight for his fellow countrymen, but not for a cause, land, or slavery. “So it was no cause and no country he fought for, no ideal and no justice.
He fought for his people, for the children, and the kin, and not even the land, because the land was worth the war, but the people were,” General Lee says (Shaara 263). General Lee fights for himself and has no choice but to fight, knowing in the end that he might be wrong with his cause and pay the price someday. General Lee is not a proponent of war, but he will serve his country with honor and duty if necessary. A man of ideals and honor represent the character of Union Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. Being a man of education, Chamberlain knows the demeaning and repulsive nature of slavery and has come to fight to end it. Chamberlain hates the whole idea of the Civil War and the death and destruction that goes along with it. “I used my brother to plug a hole. Did it automatically as if he were expendable,” says Chamberlain (Shaara 304).
He hates the idea that men, including his brother, are dying out in the fight for slavery. The only reason he believes in the Civil War is that if he the North did not fight freedom would be tarnished and a great travesty would occur. Chamberlain is not a man of war and blood and doesnt relish war and its qualities. The idea of war in general to Chamberlain was ludicrous, as he once wrote “Man: The Killer Angel”. Chamberlain believes all other wars have been unnecessary expect for the Civil War because it is a different kind of war. He says, “This is a different kind of army. If you look at history youll see men fight for pay, or women, or some kind of loot.
.. They fight because a king makes them. But were here for something new. ..Were an army going to set other men free” (Shaara 30). Chamberlain is fighting the war because he believes every man should have the right to freedom.
“Americans fight for mankind, for freedom; for the people, not the land,” says Chamberlain in regard to why he is fighting the war (Shaara 29). Chamberlain is fighting this war because “the fact of slavery upon this incredibly beautiful new clean land was appalling,” and “true freedom would eventually spread all over the world, but it started here.. Many of us came . . . because it was the right thing to do” (Shaara 29).
James Longstreet was a General under-appreciated for the great talents and strategies he possessed in regard to war. Longstreet was a glory man who loved war for its comradery and action it possessed. However, Longstreet doesnt believe and hates the idea of fighting the Civil War. He is put up against the men he commanded and served with before the war, and Longstreet feels traitorous. “It came to him in the night sometimes with a sudden appalling shock that the boys he was fighting were boys he had grown up with,” says Shaara on behalf of Longstreet. General Longstreet aside from his feelings is very professional and is out to win the war, no matter at what cost.
He needs no cause except victory as Longstreet says, “He did not think much of the Cause.. the Cause was Victory” (Shaara 63). General Longstreet does not know why he is fighting the war except for the fact that he had to choose a side or get caught in the middle so he chose the South. “You choose your nightmare side. Once chosen, you put your head down and went on to win,” says Longstreet on behalf of his choice to fight.
As General Longstreet says to General Lee, “You have no Cause. You and I, we have no Cause” (Shaara 63). Longstreet is a lost soul among men and fights because he has to not because he wants to. He feels a great remorse and shame in fighting the men that he used to lead. He had a great love for battle and the army, but the Civil War has tarnished that.
General John Buford may just be the reason the North won the Battle of Gettysburg. With his grit and determination he holds down the whole Rebel army until reinforcements arrive. Buford is a stoic and mild-mannered person whose professionalism defines his attitude on the battlefield. Buford feels a duty to his country and thats his reason for fighting in the war. Michael Shaara says, “Buford did not hate.
He was a professional” (Shaara 45). However, General Buford feels that the Civil War is sick and appalling as he says, “The appalling sick stupidity that was so bad you thought sometimes you would go suddenly, violently, com …