The Killer Angels
The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara and the Cultural Civil War
The definition of culture is as follows. The customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group. Every place has its own culture. For instance, some of the customs, and values that we hold true in America today, are vastly different than they were in 1865. However we do see examples of cultures that are very similar. For instance, America and Canada are very close together geographically, and the traditions and ways of living, are very similar. We also see examples of this in South America, where two countries that are very close together geographically may share a lot of the same cultural values. However, this was not the case in the Civil War. The North and the South were truly completely separate in not only their culture, but separate in their morals as well. We know that in the Killer Angels we are given the opportunity to see both sides of the spectrum, and with that opportunity comes a way to compare and contrast the cultures of the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. The Civil War was much more than just a war of battle, death, and hardship. The Civil War was a battle of wills, a battle of beliefs, and overall a clash of two cultures that would ultimately lead to the death of 620,000 men. The rest of my essay, is going to be dedicated to the examples of culture, and the cultural contrasts that we are able to find throughout the book.
Multiple times throughout the book the phrase of a “englishlike” is used to describe the overall nature of the South. A lot of this has to do with a sort of class structure, that of which is mainly referred to as aristocratic. This is something that is easily comparable to the nature of the English, and we see examples of this throughout the book. Such as when Freemantle, an outsider, as well as an Englishman himself, sees the uncanny resemblance of the customs in the South and in his country of origin. The reason I took this as an example of Southern culture and especially how it is resembled in this particular situation, is because if anybody would know what an Englishlike culture would be, it would most likely be an Englishman. To see an Englishman himself compare the culture, traditions, and customs of a place he’s foreign to, to the place he comes from, shows a lot about the similarity between the two culturally. The North is less accepting and comfortable with these Englishlike customs, and instead attempt to stray away from it in a way. As a matter of fact, a lot of the North consists of mostly immigrants, especially those that are seemingly trying to remove themselves from the class structure system in their country. These immigrants take up a decent chunk of the Union army, and a decent chunk of the North in general, Seemingly, we can already see examples of cultural clashes in the Civil War, that are being portrayed throughout The Killer Angels.
Speaking of the class structure, and aristocratic nature of the Southern culture. Some of the dialogue and passages from the novel, show that some of the Southerners really took a lot of pride in the respect that was given to them by the people surrounding them, you may even call that, honor. However, would it be this very “pride” and “honor” that seemed to have plagued the culture of the South, that would end up ultimately losing the Confederates this battle. We know that Lee himself had many opportunities to turn this battle around for the better of the Confederate army. No matter how right Longstreet was about taking a defensive approach to the battle, General Lee seemed to be completely unmoved by the matter, this is because he believes that no man of honor turns his back to his enemy. To be proud of your accomplishments is never a bad thing; after all, they’re called accomplishments for a reason, they deserve to be respected and you deserve to be content with your accomplishments. However, to be prideful, or to be so filled with this idea that your accomplishments make you who you are, or that you as a person are nothing without your accomplishments, is the very reason that the South would ultimately fall in this war, mainly because pride is not logic. And even more importantly, honor will not win you the battle. Within the book we get dialogue of Fremantle and Longstreet. Longstreet recapitulates that, “So now Garnett will have to die bravely to erase the stain.” he is referring to the loss of Garnetts honor, and claiming that in order for his honor to be restored, he will have to die bravely. This just emphasizes my point, that Southern culture was still stuck in the mud on Old World ideas, traditions, and values.
Now that we’ve talked a bit on the culture of the South, and the Old World and somewhat Englishlike nature of the land just below the Mason and Dixon line, we should talk a bit about the beliefs, customs, and values of the North. Colonel Josh Chamberlain of the Union Army, seems to believe that the war is more of a struggle for what the future of America really was. The North seem to be at ease with the New World traditions and values, however the South still seems to be accustomed to these Old World, aristocratic ways. Afterall it was that very aristocratic belief, and wanting to make a new name for yourself that brought these people to the New World in the first place. Chamberlain believes that America is a place that, “a man could stand up free of his past.” something that probably wouldn’t stand too well in the South, afterall we just heard that a man would ultimately have to give his life in a brave manner in order to remove the stain off of his legacy. That is two vastly different extremes, one being that a man was not defined on his previous actions, and one being that a man would have to lose his life to restore his notability. This only goes to show that the North and South were two vastly different places, however with the idea of contrasting the two, also comes the idea of comparing the two. Throughout The Killer Angels we get an idea of how horrible the war can be, even for somebody who is experienced in battle. Afterall the war was one of the most deadly wars that the United States, or even that the world had ever seen. We get this dialogue on page 118, “… lay there all night in the dark, in the cold among the wounded and dying. Piled-up bodies in front of you to catch bullets, using the dead for a shield; remember the sound? Of bullets in dead bodies? Like a shot into a rotten leg, a wet thick leg. All a man is: wet leg of blood. Remember the flap of a torn curtain in a blasted window, fragment-whispering in that awful breeze: never, forever, never, forever.” in my opinion this shows that all the men, North and South, were thrown into a terrible, and easily preventable battle, that would take the lives of one too many of our own citizens. Before the war, Leeroy Pope Walker stated that all the blood spilt could be wiped up with a single handkerchief. We now know that this was one of the most traumatic and awful wars that the United States ever experienced, and not only was it on our own soil, but it was on our own people. With this I conclude my comparisons of the cultural and moral values of the North and South.
Throughout my writing and research throughout the book, I’ve realized that this truly was a cultural divide just as much as it was a geographical divide. Going into reading this book with no prior knowledge of the Civil War whatsoever, I came out of it with what I think to be a good grasp on retained information, and throughout reading, and searching for examples of the cultural divide throughout my reading, helped my overall understanding of the Civil War exponentially. I am more than certain now, that no matter how close two places are geographically, even if they’re in the same country, city, or even street, everybody has a different culture. We see these examples of cultural differences in The Killer Angels on multiple occasions, but it’s not until you look deeper that you will truly be able to compare and contrast the war culturally, and be able to tell that this battle was more than just a war of arms, death, and horror; it was also the clash of two cultures, that would ultimately decide the future fate of the American values.
The War in The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
The author of The Killer Angels is Michael Shaara. Michael Shaara is a famous American author of many different types of fiction books or stories, such as science fiction, sports fiction, and historical fiction. He was born in 1928 in Jersey City, New Jersey. The University that he graduated is Rutgers University in 1951 and during his college days, his one goal is to become a writer. He joins Theta Chi and served in the Korean War as a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division prior. Before Michael Shaara begins to publishing many award-writing science-fiction short stories in the early 1950’s, he is an amateur boxer and police officer. He is also starts to write straight fiction, and publishes more than 70 short stories in such magazines as Playboy, Redbook, Cosmopolitan, The Saturday Evening Post, and many others. Television dramas use two of his stories to present in the late 1950’s. During his writing of fiction stories, he teaches literature at Florida State University in Tallahassee. During the early 1960’s, he starts working on his first novel, mainly about a story of a soldier who becomes a prizefighter after he returns home from the Korean War. In 1968, The Broken Place was published by New American Library. He gains many stress from writing fiction books or stories and teaching so he starts relying on cigarette smoking and coffee which causes a heart attack at his early age of 36, but he recovers completely. After seven year, The Battle of Gettysburg, The Killer Angels that he writes is rejected by the first fifteen publishers who saw the manuscript. Finally, in 1973, it was bought by the small independent publisher, The David McKay Company. During 1975, the novel, Battle of Gettysburg, The Killer Angels, wins the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Although it won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, but not many audiences enjoy personalized story of our nation’s most horrible chapter. Which cause him very disappointed, so his writing veered off in different directions. There is always surrounded by the turbulent political climate in Florida State University in the 1960s, so he is writing the novel, A Rebel in Autumn, which is focused on a violent confrontation between radical students and the ‘establishment’, but never find a publisher. He is struggling to maintain the quality of his writing after he is suffering the effects of a devastating motorcycle accident. He publishes a novel, The Herald in 1981. During May 5, 1988, Michael Shaara passes away, but although his novel, The Killer Angels, is not very popular while he is alive, but five years later, the film Gettysburg was released, which makes The Killer Angels to number one on the New York Times Bestseller List.
The novel, The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is through the perspective of the main generals of the warring parties to promote the development of the plot, draw a magnificent image of the hero group. The highest commander of this battle, Robert Lee, is like a person worshipped on the altar. He used to be the president of the West Point Military Academy. There are many generals in the North and the South who are his students. Not only that, Li is a gentleman who has no bad habits, is humble and courteous, cares for his subordinates, and never evades responsibility. For the southern soldiers, he is almost a father-like role. When their most beloved General Lee rested, the army of 15,000 people automatically passed by his tent, and it was automatically crippled, just to not wake him up. Li was a southerner, but before the outbreak of the civil war, he had been serving in the federal army. When the South preached separation, he was opposed. When the war just started, President Lincoln even invited him to be the high commander of the Northern Army. Li did not want to attack his hometown and resolutely withdrew from the federal army and joined the South Army. As soon as he entered the military camp, he could not help himself. At the beginning of the book, Robert Lee led the 70,000-strong army to cross the Potomac River and burned the war to the land of the north, violating the vow that he never invaded. At the Battle of Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee insisted on using human flesh tactics to attack the highlands. He has an unshirkable responsibility for the loss. However, the war has lasted longer than everyone expected. The old man who needs to be convinced knows his energy is limited. The idea of a battle is also excusable. After the end of the war, he put down his weapon and asked his men to do the same. If it was not for his great prestige, the civil war might not end so early. Longstreet is Lee’s right arm and the most important person in the book, or it can be said that it is the most tragic person. That winter, his three sons died in a week, and his wife was indulged in sorrow. The poker player was insulated from laughter. After the death of ‘StoneWall Jackson’, he became the most important lord of Li. For this reason, he is often compared with Jackson. Both are excellent generals, Jackson’s bravery is unmatched, and Longstreet is more calm and rational. He did not agree with the Napoleonic charge, but his defense tactics were rarely understood or appreciated. Those who are straightforward often do not know how to change. After the defeat of the war, no one blames General Li (although Lee has all his responsibilities on his own body), but he has no rumors about it and caused public anger. After the war, Longstreet joined the Republican Party in the north, hoping to join hands with the old buddies to rebuild the South. It was regarded as a changer and became the ‘most hated person of the Southerners.’
The narrative clues of this book are bifurcated, and the plot of the story is relatively broken. Like the characters in the novel, we are in the midst of a fateful speculation, uncertain values, and chaos and tension in the target chaos. Many viewpoints and concepts that seem to be taken for granted are showing their embarrassing side. Some of the issues are almost ambiguous and even ‘politically incorrect.’ The author’s brushstroke touches on the legitimacy of the war itself. The author reminds us that the United States has a state after the state, the state power does not succumb to sovereignty, there is such a check and balance to have the founding of the United States, and the South has the support of the Federal Supreme Court on the issue of slavery, so this war is not just The so-called ‘also liberating black people’ and ‘maintaining unity’ in the north are also constitutional and legal issues that the South has relied on (we call ‘rebellion’). The ‘freedom’ of the United States based on the noble words of the founding of the country, the author’s question is more fierce, when the Northern Army ordered a request to shoot the soldiers who refused to fight, the author borrowed the order of the commander Chamberlain to ask: ‘You How can one force a person to fight? For freedom?! Deprivation of liberty for freedom, what is the difference between the South and the enslavement for freedom?’, Chamberlain felt that in front of these soldiers, it was simply hypocritical to talk about ‘defending the principle of hometown’ or using ‘mother’ to lyrical.
This book is a narration of the multi-voice department goes hand in hand, not only means that the monopoly of a single ideology is broken, but also the description of people to a richer level. The generals in the book, it’s difficult reading and if the readers do not have basic knowledge and background of the war, it will be hard to follow through the book and hard to get the main idea of what Michael Shaara wants to express in his writing. The good part is basically follow what happened in the war and which can help the reader acknowledge about the situation of the war. Based on many different reviews of the readers and magazines, The New York Times comments, “Yet it is not quite clear from this book why a straightforward narrative would not have served Mr. Shaara as well as the fictional form he chose.” Which emphasize that Mr. Shaara has used his own style of writing to make the book of war stories more easily to understand the situation of the story and engage into it. The best part of the book, Mr. Shaara put the maps and brief summary about the war which help the reader to know what happened and do not get confused while reading the book.
Overall The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is divided into two parts. The first part consists of a summary, a list of people, an outline of the military structure of the two sides, a foreword, critical comments by famous experts, outlines, comments, and so on. The second part of the text is also very maverick. The language he writes, he illustrates his own view of the war but mostly based on realistic which happened during the war, the characters he uses are also real people who join and appear in the war. The book teaches the reader that everyone needs to have the courage to do things; in the book, without the courage, there will no have the Battle of Gettysburg and no Killer Angels.
My Opinion about the Book The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
The Killer Angels is a historical novel written by Michael Shaara that is a very unique and gripping take on the Civil War. The main characters are General Robert E. Lee, General James Longstreet, and Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain. Lee and Longstreet battle for the Confederacy, while Longstreet is apart of the Union, otherwise known as the Army of the Potomac. Longstreet and Lee have a good relationship, as Longstreet has much respect for General Lee. It is stated in the book that Longstreet had always been opposed to the invasion but was overruled by Lee. Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain is a very bright man as he was a professor before leaving for the war. The setting is the bloody battle of Gettysburg, which by the end of the battle had caused the death of around 50,000 men. The novel switches between the two sides and it goes through the thoughts and reactions of the generals throughout the battle.
The novel starts with a paid spy riding in the rain to warn General Longstreet of the Union Army approaching unexpectedly. Longstreet then tells Lee and they decide to move their army towards Gettysburg, where all the roads came together. Lee wants to destroy the Union Army here in the upcoming battle. From here on the battle of Gettysburg ensues as Shaara breaks it down by the days of the battle.On July 1st 1863, General Buford is attacked by confederate forces, who then alerts General Reynolds of the attack so that Reynolds can aid him. Reynolds comes just in time but is soon shot and killed. The Union forces continue to hold the line for as much as they can. Later on, now from Lee’s point of view, the Confederate army sends Union forces to a retreat towards Cemetery Ridge. On day two, Shaara continues show Chamberlain’s feelings, as his troops encounter a wounded slave. Chamberlain finds himself repulsed by the man and feels somewhat guilty for these feelings. Chamberlain is then informed that his troops are moving toward Little Round Top. Now back on the Confederate side. The differences between Longstreet and Lee reveal themselves in full force in this part of the novel as it starts to take a toll on the Confederate Army. All Longstreet wants is to fight a defensive battle while Lee is set on an offensive assault. Chamberlain and his men soon find themselves taking part in the fight for Little Round Top, which Chamberlain performs a brilliant move to win the fight, but at the cost of many casualties. Shaara then ends the novel with Pickett’s Charge in which the confederacy took major blows to their army which ultimately causes a Confederate loss in Gettysburg.
Overall I somewhat liked the novel. The parts I enjoyed were specifically the switching of points of view between the Union and the Confederacy. I think it made the novel much more interesting and also it gave me insight as to what the military leaders were thinking about during this historic battle. Some things I disliked was overall tone of the novel. Although the switching of view points added some excitement, I felt majority of the novel was somewhat boring and I believe Shaara spent too much time on insignificant conversations between generals which didn’t lead to important actions being taken. For example I think Shaara brought up the indecisiveness of Longstreet with Lee’s strategy many times even though Lee was certain he could crush the Union with an attack. I also just wanted more of Lee instead of Longstreet because Lee was the commander. Shaara seemed to focus much more on Longstreet’s opinions and feelings more than Lee.
The historical accuracy is somewhat accurate in this novel as Shaara himself states in the beginning that he gets much of the information from actual letters and documents of the men themselves. Also all of the characters were real people in the war. Shaara also then states the interpretation of the characters are his own, meaning their feelings and emotions are shown as how he envisions them. This hurts the historical accuracy because of course there is really no way we can know their exact thoughts during this battle. He also states that he altered the language men used so that we could comprehend it better. Some things I learned about the time period was that education seemed to be pivotal to success even though it still was not universally common for everyone to receive one. We see this with Chamberlain and his ability to stop the Confederacy charge with his brilliant move of using a bayonet charge at Little Round Top. We also see this with Robert E. Lee’s success. Although the Confederacy lost the Civil War, Lee had success early in the war and was a brilliant military leader.
Some stories I found interesting were about the military generals and leaders. I was intrigued with Longstreet’s dedication to a defensive battle and how he knew that an offensive attack would end in disaster. Still, even with Longstreet’s reluctance, Lee was set that an invasion would end the Union and win the war. It’s mind boggling that two very smart military leaders disagreed with a such a huge decision for the the Confederacy. I also thought the storyline with Chamberlain and his brother, Tom had. Chamberlain had trouble commanding his brother in war, knowing that he could he send him to his death at any moment. Chamberlain eventually decides that he must no longer command Tom as he will eventually kill him. This storyline adds much more emotion and drama to the novel.
Overall, I would recommend this book if you have an interest American history as Shaara’s take on these military leaders is interesting and adds a unique feel compared to other historical fictions. I believe it was an okay read but nothing spectacular. I personally do not have much interest in historical fiction but this novel definitely had some interesting parts. I feel that there were many boring parts of the book, especially when battles were not actually being fought. I believe this novel provided a unique perspective of Gettysburg simply because of Shaara’s portrayal of men like Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, and Joshua Chamberlain. He adds a sense of emotion and feelings with his portrayals. I learned that with just a couple of strategic changes for the Confederacy, they could have won Gettysburg and maybe even won the Civil War. Also I did not know the impact of the lesser known generals were so large, especially generals Buford, Ewell, and Reynolds. The Killer Angels is a unique take on the Battle of Gettysburg and has emotional views and thoughts from the generals themselves.
Civil War in The Killer Angels Novel
Summary of Contents: In The Killer Angels, Shaara sought to retell the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, a critical turning point in the American Civil War. While most everyone is aware that the Union army was victorious, few are familiar with all the various intricacies of the historic North-South battle – and it is precisely these intricacies that Shaara aimed to expose. In the words of Civil War historian James McPherson, The Killer Angels informs its readers what the “war was about, and what it meant.” The book carefully traces the battle between the Army of Northern Virginia (the Confederates) and the Army of the Potomac (the Union army), basing all of its characters on actual historical figures.
One unique aspect of Shaara’s work is that, in Shaara’s own words, “this is the story of the Battle of Gettysburg, told from the viewpoints of Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet and some of the other men who fought there.” Rather than inserting his own historical opinions, Shaara went “back primarily to the words of the men themselves, their letters and other documents. [He has] not consciously changed any fact.” In fact, the novel’s only real historical divergence is placing the Twentieth Maine in the center of the Union line rather than on Big Round Top, where it actually occurred. And yet despite sticking relatively close to historical facts, The Killer Angel reads not like a history textbook, but like an adventure novel. The book’s overall writing style was clearly one of excitement. Thus, the infusion of historical accuracy with adventure is The Killer Angels’ main theme.
More specifically, The Killer Angels follows the Battle of Gettysburg from the preparation that began on June 29, 1863, to its end on July 3 of the same year. Nearly every detail of the confrontation has been included in all its bloody glory. It includes descriptions of each day of battle – on the first day, Confederates marched on Gettysburg, and several important officials (including Union General Reynolds) were killed; on the second, faulty battle plans failed to help the Confederates advance their cause; and on the third day, the Confederates suffered a crushing defeat on multiple fronts, including Culp’s Hill and Pickett’s Charge. However, the book also goes beyond the battlefield to examine how each side readied itself for the conflict – Shaara scrutinized everything from the description of military strategies to the information obtained from spies. Even conversations between military leaders are included; in fact, it is through discussions between Confederate military leaders Longstreet and Lee that another of the book’s core themes – the evolution of war tactics during the Civil War – emerges.
Body of the review: The Killer Angels’ first theme is that history can be both educational and exciting. This becomes evident right from the start of the book – for instance, when the Confederate spy Henry Thomas Harrison is at work, the following picture is painted:
“He rode into the dark of the woods and dismounted” … “They were coming very fast” … “He thought: there’ll be some of them die of the heat today. But they are coming faster than they ever came before” (Shaara 3-4).
Shaara’s vivid, passionate descriptions of historic events continue throughout the novel. Whether the novel is recounting Union Colonel Chamberlain’s speech to his regiment or Longstreet’s preparation for the inevitable Union assault, the tone is one of adventure. If there were any lingering doubt about this in the mind of the reader, one ought simply to revisit Shaara’s account of Pickett’s charge:
“Longstreet sat on a rail fence, hugging his chest with both arms. He suspended thinking; his mind was a bloody vacancy, like a room in which there has been a butchering. He tried once formally to pray, but there was no one there and no words came, and over and over he said to himself, Heavenly Father, Heavenly Father. He watched the battle dissolve to nightmare: the neat military lines beginning to come apart as they crossed the road and no order beyond that but black struggling clots and a few flags in the smoke, tilting like sails above a white sea, going down one by one. A shell burst near Longstreet and he felt the hot brutal breath, and then the sounds of battle were softer, the smoke began to blanket the field. But there was still a few flags moving toward the top of the hill. Longstreet put glasses to his eyes, saw ghost figures stumbling in white smoke, yellow blaze of cannon, black flakes of men spattering upward into a white sky, and then the smoke was too thick and he could not see anything and it was like going blind. A paralysis came over him. He sat staring off into the white sea where the guns still flashed and boomed softly, at a great distance, until he saw the first men beginning to come back out of the smoke. They came slowly up the long green slope, a ragged crowd of men. No one was running. They were moving with slow set stubborn unstoppable looks on their faces, eyes down, guns dragging the ground, and they were moving slowly but steadily, even though the Union guns had elevated and shells were still falling on them as they came back up the field. The smoke parted for a vision: the green field dirtied a vast mile with lumped bodies, white and red, and far across the field the whole army falling back in a speckled flood across the road to the safety of the woods, and there at the top of the hill one flag erect near the center of the Union line. Then that flag was down in the smoke, and Longstreet could no longer see, and the retreat began to flood by him” (Shaara 350-351).
The use of vivid adjectives such as “tilting” and “lumped” as well as the combination of intense verb phrases (e.g. “dissolve to nightmare” and “smoke parted for a vision”) with short, meaningful sentences like “a paralysis came over him” make it more than clear that the novel was written in an adventure style. This style is also present in the authentic-sounding dialogue between characters, which is clearly not purely historical but rather is valuable for the entertainment and character development it offers.
In this way, the writing style of The Killer Angels makes clear that it is no history textbook; it truly is a history novel. This implies the inclusion of several dramatic aspects to the novel for reading pleasure, which is significant because it opens the book up to a much broader audience. As a direct result of its more exciting descriptions and relatable characters, The Killer Angels is accessible to an entirely different audience than that of a history textbook. Whereas the latter would probably be read mainly by history students and professors, The Killer Angels is likely to be picked up by pleasure readers looking for an adventure in addition to the history buffs. Consequently, a new demographic is taught the details of an important part of American history.
A second major theme of The Killer Angels is the evolution of war tactics and technology during the Civil War. Throughout the novel, there is a clear clash between old and new military strategies. This is perhaps most evident in Shaara’s depiction of Pickett’s Charge, where over sixty percent of Pickett’s men due to the Pickett’s overreliance on soldiers. Soon, infantry would lose its foothold in military strategy to more advanced technology such as cannons, grenades, and even tanks.
The tension between the old and new military planning is also exemplified in several conversations between Confederates Lee and Longstreet. While Longstreet argues in favor of more defensive strategies, such as utilizing stone walls as hiding spots, Lee prefers fighting out in the open. Longstreet is clearly the more modern of the too – while Lee’s approach was considered more honorable, it simply ceased to be feasible once long-distance weapons like rifles became commonplace. This is another instance of the Civil War’s historic shift away from ancient styles of fighting.
Conclusion: Michael Shaara researched a great deal about the Civil War before writing The Killer Angels. This shows in the novel’s painstaking attention to detail – countless battles and historical facts are covered. However, The Killer Angels is a novel rather than a textbook, as it was written for entertainment as well as education. This opens it up to an entirely new audience, which is arguably highly educationally valuable. Moreover, The Killer Angels emphasizes the Civil War’s overall transition from outdated military strategies to newer planning and technology. Shaara’s historical novel covers both the Civil War and its surrounding factors.
An idea Of War in The Killer Angels Novel
Wars have been fought for many different reasons through the years, and that holds true for the American Civil War (1861-1865). In Michael Shaaras Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Killer Angels, the reasons for fighting the war are brought about through the officers and soldiers at a famous battle site of the Civil War, Gettysburg. Gettysburg was one of the most documented battles of the whole war. It took place over a span of three days and can be viewed as a turning point from Confederate prominence to Confederate demise. As in any conflict, there are two sides to the story. The Union and the Confederacy each had their own views as to why they were fighting the war. Victors write the history so too often only the Union side is presented. In the book we are presented with some of both veiwpoints.
The propaganda pitch the Union gave was they were fighting to free the slaves. This was not true! It was said Southerners were fighting to preserve slavery. This is also a false statement. Roughly less than 6% of all Southerners owned slaves. In fact, there were a substantial amount of generals in the Union army that owned slaves themselves. In addition the constitution protected slavery. If the true issue was to maintain slavery the South would not have seceded. The most obvious myth is that the good North marched into the “cruel and evil” South for the sole purpose of freeing the slaves. There are many quotes from Northern leaders that show clearly that the main purpose of the North was not the eradication of slavery, but subjugation of the southern people. Slavery was used to rally the Northern population behind Abraham Lincolns war. It was an emotional issue, sure some Yankees joined and fought to set men free, but most were there to preserve the union. Preserving the Union meant stepping on the Southern people and keeping them as a tax base to feed Northern industrialists. An interesting conflict of Northern morals is discovered. The North is portrayed as wanting to set black men free, but they practiced economic slavery on the Southern states. The Civil War was really more politically complex with regards to Abraham Lincoln and his Republican partys actions.
The South fought this war as the Second American Revolution. The cause of the South was equated to that of their forefathers who had fought and won their freedom from Great Britain less than 100 years earlier. If it was a war to set men free, it was the Southern farm boy that wanted his freedoms guaranteed under the original constitution. The Northern states’ politicians were aggressively attempting to implement a monarchial form of government, which was precisely what the early colonists had fought against in the American Revolution. The Northern states were taking advantage of their superior numbers in the federal government and were using their advantage to implement unfair tariffs against the South. Enormous amounts of money were taken from the South and funneled into the Northern states. Most of the revenue taken from the Southern states was used to run government programs. This brought about the argument of States Rights and a weaker central government by the South.
The main cause of the war was Lincolns rejection of the right to peaceable secession of the eleven sovereign states and subsequently the denial of self-government to the nearly 8 million people living in those states. The Federal government needed the income from the South so they were forced into fighting to save the tax coming from the South. Without consulting Congress, Lincoln sent great armies of destruction to the South. The Southern people had no choice but to defend themselves from this invasion.
The South fought, simply, for their independence, as the United States federal government of the Northern states refused to allow the South to leave peacefully. The men of the South did not fight to win their freedom, they fought to keep it! To quote from the Declaration of Independence:
… that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.
For all intents and purposes, if the North had not invaded the South, there would have been no war. The name “civil war” implies that two, or more, groups of people within a country take up arms against each other in a struggle for the government. This was not what took place in the South between 1861 and 1865. It was an invasion of one nation into another independent, sovereign nation. The struggle is properly called “The War For Southern Independence,” as that is the most correct description of the reasoning behind the war. The Southern soldier fought to protect his home, State, and Nation from the invading United States army. He fought in honor of his forefathers who had fought against British tyranny.
The soldiers of the Confederacy were not traitors. Some historians have branded any man who fought for their home state in 1861-1865 as a traitor including General Robert E. Lee. This is a Yankee political point of view which is quite narrow. Many of the leaders, both Union and Confederate were educated at West Point. Even at West Point they were taught about sovereign states rights. Men who resigned their union commission to join the Confederacy, did so because they believe and were taught that home (state) duty, honor, loyalty came before federal issues. It is slander to call them traitors based on the education received by the Federal government of that time.
Many of the best trained and highly skilled officers decided to side with the Confederacy. Probably, the most famous was General Robert E. Lee. Lee was a well respected grandfather-figure. He seemed nearly perfect in all aspects of life. He had great morals, was extremely religious, and his men showed proper respect. Lee understood the principal of States Rights. In a conversation with Confederate General James Longstreet, Lee knew old Virginia held a large spot in his hart. There was a higher duty to Virginia. That was the first duty. There was never any doubt about that (191). The respect for Lee shined through George Pickett and his division at Gettysburg. The idea that Lee was fighting for Virginia inspired Picketts men to charge at Cemetary Ridge, while the Union troops sat behind walls. Before the heroic run at Cemetary Ridge, Pickett and his men expressed Lees idea, and let no man forget today that he is from old Virginia.
If you investigate through diaries and other first hand accounts the reasons that these men fought for their homes, farms county and state, you may find many different answers to the reason why they fought. I can not find the answer of overthrowing the United States Federal Government. The citizen soldiers who fought for the Confederacy personified the best qualities of America. The preservation of liberty and freedom was the greatest motivating factor in the Souths decision to fight for independence. They resigned their bond to a government that they found increasingly abusing the constitution and the rights of the states for self determination. The tenacity with which Confederate soldiers fought underscored their belief in the rights guaranteed by the constitution. These attributes are the underpinning of our democratic society and represent the foundation on which this nation was originally built. They did not seek to destroy the federal government, they chose to withdraw and form their own government that was to be truer to the original constitution.
Basically Northerners fought to preserve the Union and Southerners fought for their rights as a separate nation. Those reasons were felt by the majority of Union and Confederate soldiers. The Union was victorious in the American Civil War, but feelings of the Federal Government not fulfilling its duties under the Constitution are still alive today. Wars will always be fought for different causes and that will always hold true with the wars of the future.
A Main Theme in The Killer Angels Novel
Report on “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara When an author writes a book he has a message that he is trying to get across to the reader. This message is called a theme. In The Killer Angels Shaaras theme was freedom for the slaves. The Northerners truly believed that the slaves deserved to be free, and their desire to set slaves free was the cause of the Civil War. Just before the Battle of Gettysburg, Colonel Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine gave a speech to a group of mutineers. He told them that the war in which they were fighting was unlike any war in history.
The war in which they were fighting was not for money, property or power. It was a war to set other men free. After the battle began, Sergeant Tom Chamberlain asked a group of prisoners why they were fighting. They gave no answer, but asked him the same question. Sergeant Chamberlain answered, To free the slaves, of course. The South, however, was against freeing the slaves. The entire Civil War, whether the people were for or against the idea, was about freedom. The Killer Angels was informative, very fascinating and I liked it. I liked the book because I learned many things from it. Id never thought much about the importance of the Battle of Gettysburg until I read The Killer Angels. From this book I learned many things. I learned that the Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point of the Civil War. Prior to Gettysburg, the South had won most major battles. At Gettysburg, however, the North gained its first major victory. From then on, the North continued to gain momentum, winning virtually every battle for the following two years of the war. The Battle of Gettysburg exhausted both armies; greatly decreasing their reserves of ammunition and soldiers.
The North had more than twice as many men as the South, and since the North was industrialized, they could replenish their supplies of men and ammunition fairly quickly. The South, however, could not replenish their supplies quickly because of the lack of industrialization and manpower. The supplies lost in the Battle of Gettysburg ultimately lost the war for the South. I also learned that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was not a good military tactician. Evidently, he thought that, as in most of the previous battles, the Confederate army could win this one with a series of charges. On the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee ordered the first charge. In this charge, Confederate troops would make an uphill attack in an attempt to take a ridge from the Federal army. With an uphill advantage, the Federal troops drove the Confederate army into retreat. On the third day of battle, Lee ordered a charge that would take his army across more than a mile of open field. On the other side of the field, however, Federal troops released a continuous bombardment of artillery as the Confederate troops made their way across. The Federal army wiped out most of the Confederate troops before they were halfway across the field.
By the time the remaining Confederates reached the Federal army their numbers were so small the Federal army had no trouble defeating them. A good commanding general would have seen that both charges were hopeless. In both cases the Federal troops had fortified vantage points, while the Confederate army had no sufficient protection. Had Lee seen this, he would not have ordered the charges. Instead, he was too confident of the ability of his army and his overconfidence led him to defeat. Before I read The Killer Angels I knew that the Civil War brought many friends to fight against friends and family to fight against family. Until I read The Killer Angels, I never realized that this was true even in the higher ranks. General Hancock of the Federal army and General Armistad of the Confederate were extremely good friends.
Before the war they served together in California, but when they war began they parted ways. Throughout the Battle of Gettysburg, both generals were constantly asking for permission to go under flag of truce to the opposing army hoping to see the other. During the battle both generals were wounded, and they never got another chance to see each other. General Armistad was mortally wounded, and in his dying words he asked a messenger to send his apologies to General Hancock that it had to end the way it did. The Civil War tore families and friends apart, all the way up to the highest military ranks. The Killer Angels was an exceptional book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the thoughts and fears of both armies during the Civil War. The Killer Angels was filled with action, suspense and drama, and it is perhaps the most accurate account of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain’s Character and the Power of Persuasion
Considering the impact of different aspects in an argument is the key to accomplishing effective rhetoric. In the case of Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, the success of his persuasion depended upon his knowledge of his purpose, audience, speaker, and subject. The purpose of his argument was to convince the audience, mutineers from the Second Regiment of Maine, that the extended enlistment was not something to dread since the Civil War was about maintaining their freedom as Americans rather than abolishing slavery. As the speaker, Chamberlain recognized the subject of controversy was deployment contracts, so he integrated his own thoughts and feelings as well as the audience’s into his rhetoric. These factors led to the success of his rhetoric.
For all forms of persuasion to be effective, the audience must feel a connection to the speaker. Chamberlain utilized comfort, or cognitive ease, to soften his audience. Cognitive ease is an ethos-related tactic that involves consoling the primary audience and countering dissatisfaction by keeping things simple, empowering the audience, and putting them in a better mood. Chamberlain adopted a calm, informal tone with the Regiment’s designated speaker in order to establish a feeling of trust. The excerpt states, “..Chamberlain said with the same light, calm, pleasant manner that he had developed when talking to particularly rebellious students who had come in with a grievance and who hadn’t yet learned that the soft answer turneth away wrath” (p. 23). Chamberlain was aware that the mutineers were wary of him, so he managed to redirect their frustration enough for him to convince them to fight alongside him. In his speech, he kept his words simple and honest; Chamberlain sided with the mutineers because he knew that by empowering them, they would be willing to fight. His choice to use comfort as a rhetorical tactic gained enough of the Regiment men’s trust for them to listen and relate to his argument.
In effective rhetoric, it is important for a speaker to establish a connection between the audience and the goal of the argument. The overall intention of Chamberlain’s speech in The Killer Angels was to evoke patriotism in order to identify the commonplace between him and the mutineers. A commonplace is a shared public opinion the speaker uses to convince their audience their goal is the best option; patriotism is an ethos-related tactic, as well as one of the strongest persuading emotions, that attaches the speaker’s intent to the audience’s sense of identity. Chamberlain talks about the vitality of the Union and its connection to freedom by saying, “This is free ground. All the way from here to the Pacific Ocean. No man has to bow…Here you can be something…It’s the idea that we all have value” (p. 30). He attached a commonplace between the regiments by stating, “What we’re all fighting for, in the end, is each other” (30). In summary, he effectively explained that they had the same goal in mind; the preservation of the Union. Once the men recognized this perspective, the majority opted to join Chamberlain and his men.
In some forms of persuasion, showing doubt or weakness may decrease the effectiveness of the argument. However, Chamberlain uses rhetorical doubt to his advantage. Dubitatio involves projecting uncertainty on how to start or proceed with a speech. It lowers an audience’s expectations, which allows the speaker to surprise them with facts later in the argument. It is a pathos-related tactic that evokes pity and sympathy. Chamberlain starts by timidly explaining how the war had affected his regiment. He states, “There were a thousand of us then. There’s not three hundred of us now” (p.29). By admitting to the radical decline of his soldiers, he revealed his doubt in himself and the war. The excerpt also states, “He spoke very slowly, staring at the ground” (p.29). Dubitatio focuses on conveying an illusion of doubt. By avoiding eye contact with the mutineers, he is convincing his audience that he doubts his rhetorical ability. Chamberlain’s strategy was to stimulate sympathy from the Regiment members, opening them up to his upcoming argument. Since the mutineers responded poorly to authority, Chamberlain deliberately portrayed himself the way a fellow soldier would, which would lead Regiment men to be more responsive. His attempts at dubitatio are effective since the audience saw him in a new, more humble light, which further inclines them to consider his argument.
A vital question considered by rhetoricians is how to deal with a reluctant audience. In the excerpt, mutineers were livid about having to stay at war while others in their Regiment were permitted to return home. Reluctance is the illusion that a speaker is forced to reach their conclusion despite their own beliefs and desires. It relates to ethos because it convinces the audience the speaker believes in their commonplace but is compelled to draw a different conclusion due to undeniable logic. Chamberlain uses this tactic to convince the audience of his hesitance to follow orders. As stated in the excerpt, “‘I’ve been ordered to take you along, and that’s what I’m going to do…The whole Reb army is up the road a ways waiting for us and this is no time for an argument like this’” (p. 29). Chamberlain used reluctance to convince his audience he supported their commonplace but was forced to bring them to the battlefield, regardless of their desires. Chamberlain knew associating himself with their cause would lead them to be more receptive, which was effective since the men felt as though their grievances were being heard.
M. Shaara’s The Killer Angels: A Comparative Analysis of Leadership Styles Utilize by Two Generals
In The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, the styles of leadership of confederate Generals Robert Edward Lee and James Longstreet differ greatly, and it is this that ultimately determines the outcome of The Battle of Gettysburg. While Lee is more of an offensive general, always looking to strike his enemy first, Longstreet is more cautious and prefers trench warfare. By setting up a strong defense and waiting for the enemy to come to him, Longstreet believes that it is the best way to fight. Unfortunately, when Lee and Longstreet disagree, Lee ends up getting his way as a result of his higher status.
In war, most army generals are cold and unforgiving because they know that they cannot afford to make any mistakes. General Longstreet, on the other hand, is not. He puts his trust into a seemingly untrustworthy spy, named Harrison. General Lee, though, is rather reluctant to deal with this mercenary. “lee glanced again at Longstreet…He Longstreet moved to the map table, under the awning…Lee came slowly to the table, watching the man. After a moment he said to Harrison ‘I understand that you are General Longstreet’s’—a slight pause—‘scout’… Lee would not use the word spy…Lee listened without expression.”. Even though it is apparent that the man is trustworthy and knowledgeable, Lee is still reluctant to trust him. “Do you believe this man…Am I to move on the word of a paid spy?.
In some ways, though, Lee is too trusting with his own men and he doesn’t realize that there is a time when some people are simply not to be trusted anymore. Lee is wondered and a bit frustrated with one of his officers named Jeb Stuart that has, after a long time, has not given a report of his position or the enemy’s position. “’There should have been something from Jeb Stuart…’
‘Stuart would not have left us blind…’
‘Longstreet says this time you ought to stomp him, really stomp him…’
‘Stuart would not leave us blind’”. Lee still, after it is obvious that Jeb has failed him, puts his trust into Stuart, whereas Longstreet feels that he should be severely punished for his failure, which he should. Longstreet now ponders why Lee does not use one of his other officers to do the job properly. “Longsteet grimaced. He thought: we have other cavalry. Why doesn’t the old man send of a look? Tell you why: he can’t believe Stuart would let him down” (52). Longstreet knows what is right whereas Lee does not.
The Union forces are positioned strategically on a hill, and Longstreet knows it would be slaughter to go for a head on attack, right for the center of the Union line, but Lee thinks it will be a great strategy. “Longsteet said again. ‘Sir, I’ve discovered a way south that seems promising. If we would move— ‘’ General the enemy is there—‘’’ Lee lifted his arm and pointed up the ridghe in a massive gesture —–and there’s where I’m going to strike him”. Lee is stubborn and doesn’t listen to longsteet. Later Lee makes up his mind: “Genreral we will attack the center”.
In the end, lee’s poor tacktics cost the confederates the Battle of Gettysburg. If only he had thought of the consequenbces of his audacious assault rught up the center of the Union line. The outcome of the battle would have been quite different though if lee had taken longstreet’s advice and thought through his plan of action before he actually executed it. Lee obviously didn’t know what he was doing. Always before making a major desicison one should consult his./ her aides before actually doing anything.
The Juxtaposition and Dualism of Lee and Longstreet in the Killer Angels, a Novel by Michael Shaara
Lee and Longstreet contrasted each other in three major ways in the chapter. First we see that Longstreet is a realist and Lee an idealist. Second, we see that Lee’s health is failing and Longstreet’s is not, and third, that Lee trusts in God’s will whereas Longstreet does not. First of all, Longstreet believes that attacking now cannot produce a victory. For example, he tells Lee, “Do you expect me to attack again that same high ground which they could not take yesterday at full strength…it is my considered opinion that a frontal assault here would be a disaster” (pgs. 302,4). Lee, on the other hand, is confident and says, “ I want you to move your corps forward and take those heights, in the center, and split the Union line” (p 302). Second, Longstreet is healthy while Lee’s health and well being is failing him. For example, Lee tells Longstreet, “I’m an old man…” (p 307) and the author also says that Longstreet, “spoke looking at the weary face, the ancient eyes” (p 309). Third, Lee and Longstreet have different opinions about God’s role in this battle. Lee tells Longstreet, “Well, we have left nothing undone. It is all in the hands of God” (p 317). Lee realizes that he and his commanders have done their best to control the situation but it is, like everything in life, up to God and his ultimate will. Longstreet, however, is confused by Lee’s statement and disagrees in his mind. He thinks, “It isn’t God that is sending those men up that hill” (p 317). Longstreet does not trust in God’s sovereignty and doesn’t believe that God could possibly send so many men up that hill to their deaths. This chapter in The Killer Angels really draws out and portrays the differences between Lee and Longstreet.