The Killer Angel’s

The Killer Angels
Michael Shaara
During a visit to Gettysburg, Shaara saw the battlefield and learned about the battle and its significance. He returned home with the idea to write a historical novel based on the battle. Most historical novels use fictional characters in historical settings, but Shaara chose to write about the real-life participants in the battle, such as Robert E. Lee and Joshua L. Chamberlain. This unusual decision gives the novel a much more epic tone, but it also causes problems with historical accuracy.
Published in 1974, The Killer Angels never enjoyed commercial success in Shaara’s lifetime. But to the surprise of many, including Shaara, it won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Literature.
The Battle of Gettysburg, which the novel describes, was the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War, with over 50,000 casualties in the span of three days. Many historians have called it the high-water mark of the Confederacy, when General Robert E. Lee hurled the entire strength of his army at the Union forces in an attempt to end the war by destroying his enemy.
As a novel that attempts to offer a more lifelike retelling of the Battle of Gettysburg, Michael Shaara’s The Killer Angels portrays actual historical figures & the actual events in which they participated during the Civil War.
While much of his characterization and novelistic interpretation is based on careful study of letters, documents, & historical texts, Shaara does take significant liberties in his portrayal of the characters, their inner thoughts, & emotions.
General Robert E. Lee – Confederacy.

The Commander of the Army of Northern Virginia, or Confederate army. At the age of 57, Lee is one of the most famous—& most revered—men in the South. He has led his army through a string of victories. At the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee is having heart trouble, & he eventually dies of heart disease in 1870. In his foreword, Shaara writes that Lee is “a man in control. He does not lose his temper nor his faith. He believes absolutely in God. He loves Virginia above all, the mystic dirt of home. He is the most beloved man in either army.”

General James Longstreet – Confederacy.

Lee’s second in command &, since the death of “Stonewall” Jackson, his most important general. At 42, Longstreet is full-bearded, slow talking, & crude. He is aware of the new nature of warfare, & knows that military tactics have to change with new technology. He is very stubborn, but he has great respect for Lee, & ultimately defers to his commander’s judgment, though not without a good deal of argument. All 3 of his children were killed by a fever during the winter before the Battle of Gettysburg. This loss has sunk the jovial Longstreet into a depression that is often severe.

Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain – Union. 34 years old, Chamberlain has left his home in Maine & a comfortable professorship at Bowdoin College to come to war. He is the colonel of the 20th Maine Infantry regiment. He was an excellent student at school, speaks 7 languages, & has a lovely singing voice, but all his life he has wanted to be a soldier. He lied to Bowdoin & told them he was going on sabbatical to France because they would not let him go to war. He is an intellectual, given to brooding & poetic thoughts.
General John Buford – Union.

A cavalry commander, Buford comes from the great plains of the Midwest, & dislikes the tame & political East. He has an eye for finding the best ground on a battlefield. He has been given 2 brigades & ordered to follow the movements of the Confederate army.

Arthur Fremantle –

Englishman who observes the Confederate army. People in the Confederacy hope that England will come to their aid, since the South still has many traditional aspects of English society, particularly its class structure. Realists like Lee & Longstreet know that England will never help the Confederacy as long as it has slavery. Fremantle is tall & thin & reminds Longstreet of Ichabod Crane. Fremantle is dismayed by the rough manners of many of the soldiers, but he is also amazed at how much the Southerners are like Englishmen. He especially admires Lee & James Longstreet. He is enthusiastic about the battles, but he rarely has any idea of what is really going on.

General George Pickett – Confederacy.

Perfumed, with bouncing curly hair, George Pickett is a dandy. Last in his class at West Point, Pickett has risen to the rank of major general, & leads an entire division. He is in love with a girl half his age & in his melodramatic style, he has sworn to her that he would never drink.His division has not seen action in battle & he longs for a chance to prove himself & his men.

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General J. E. B. Stuart – Confederacy.

Stuart is the cavalry leader assigned by Lee to track the movements of the Union army. A fun-loving publicity hound, Stuart is off joyriding for the first 2 days of the battle, & it is his negligence that causes the Confederate army to lose track of the Union troops in the 1st place. Because of Stuart’s absence, during the first 2 days the Confederates never know where the Union troops are or what the surrounding area looks like.

Thomas Chamberlain – Union.

Joshua’s brother & aide, also in the Twentieth Maine. Not as smart or as brooding as his brother, Tom is more social, funnier, & more easygoing. While he has been a calming presence to his brother, he soon becomes a liability when Joshua Chamberlain realizes that he might, at some point, order his brother to his death.

General Lew Armistead – Confederacy.

At 46, Armistead is a widower & his wife’s death constantly causes him sadness. A general serving in Pickett’s division, Armistead knows that his old friend, Winfield Hancock, is on the other side of the war, serving as a general in the Union army. Armistead & Hancock will both be at the Battle of Gettysburg.

General Richard Ewell – Confederacy.

Recently chosen to replace part of “Stonewall” Jackson’s command, Ewell has become unsure of himself after suffering an injury that cost him his leg. As Jackson’s replacement, Ewell has a great amount of responsibility, which is a source of concern to Lee. Lee is particularly troubled by the way that Ewell defers to Jubal Early.

General Jubal Early – Confederacy.

A young, ambitious, & cold general. Like Ewell, he has been given a part of Jackson’s old command. He accepts this responsibility easily. He is capable & confident, but also pushy, particularly with Ewell. Though Ewell technically has the greater responsibility & the greater control, he defers to Early. Longstreet & Armistead despise Early.

Private Buster Kilrain – Union.

A former sergeant who was demoted to private for drunkenly assaulting a fellow officer. A big, stocky Irishman, Kilrain is getting old and knows he does not have many fights left in him. He becomes a friend & mentor to his colonel, Joshua Chamberlain.

General John Reynolds – Union.

An intelligent infantry general who has a gift for positioning troops, Reynolds refuses to become the commander of the Union army, a position that is then given to George Meade. Reynolds is killed shortly after the action begins at Gettysburg.

General George Meade – Union.

Recently appointed commander of the Union armies, Meade arrives a bit late to the Battle of Gettysburg. Cautious but intelligent, he makes a brief appearance in The Killer Angels.

Sorrel – Confederate.

An aide to Longstreet. Sorrel is a competent but not very sociable man.

General John Hood – Confederate.

A major general under Longstreet’s command, Hood is Longstreet’s most competent soldier. Like Longstreet, he prefers defensive strategies, & he understands that the nature of war is changing.

General Isaac Trimble – Confederate.

An old general who participates in Pickett’s Charge.

General Winfield Scott Hancock – Union.

A competent, important general of the Union army, who directs much of the action at Gettysburg. He is an old friend of Confederate General Lew Armistead, who fights on the other side at Gettysburg.

General Ambrose Powell Hill – Confederate.

A general whose troops do much of the fighting on the first day of the battle, first with Union General John Buford’s cavalry, then John Reynolds’s infantry.

Summary—Introduction and Foreword

In the opening section, “To the Reader,” author Michael Shaara states that he wrote the book because he wanted to know “what it was like to be there, what the weather was like, what the men’s faces looked like.” He adds that since there were so many different historical interpretations of what went on at the Battle of Gettysburg, he based The Killer Angels primarily on the letters, journal entries, and memoirs of the men who were there.

In the Foreword, Shaara gives a brief description of the situation in late June 1863. General Robert E. Lee, after a string of victories, has led the Confederate army into an invasion of Union territory, mainly in Pennsylvania. His intention is to destroy the Union army once & for all & then offer peace to the President of the Union, Abraham Lincoln—with the understanding that the Confederacy be recognized as an independent country.

Shaara then describes the main characters & gives a little of each man’s background & personal history. The most important are General Robert E. Lee, Confederate General James Longstreet, Union Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, & Major General George Meade, commanding general of the Union army.

June 29, 1863: Chapter 1 The Spy

Daytime, Taneytown, Pennsylvania, a town near Gettysburg. Harrison, a Confederate spy, discovers a large mass of Union troops moving north. The Union troops are moving close to the Confederate army. Harrison returns in the middle of the night to the Confederate camp & reports his discovery to General James Longstreet. Longstreet is skeptical at first, but Harrison convinces him that he has actually seen the Union troops.

Longstreet quickly wakes up General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate army. Lee is also skeptical, since he has sent General J. E. B. Stuart out with his cavalry to keep an eye on the movements of the Union army. Longstreet believes that Stuart is out joyriding. Longstreet presses Lee to get the army moving west. Lee agrees and decides to move toward a town called Gettysburg.
June 29, 1863: Chapter 2: Chamberlain

Daytime, several miles south of Gettysburg. Union Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain is awakened by Buster Kilrain, a former sergeant who was demoted to private after assaulting another officer. Kilrain informs him that their regiment, the Twentieth Maine, has just received 120 men from the Second Maine, which has been disbanded. The new men are mutineers, having expected to be sent home after the disbanding of their regiment. The men are now being kept under guard, & Chamberlain has orders to shoot any man who does not agree to march.

Chamberlain is joined by his younger brother, Tom, who is also a member of the Twentieth Maine. Chamberlain obtains food for the mutineers and then meets with their leader. The leader tells him that the mutineers are tired of the war and the inept Union generals who have been running it–they want to go home. Chamberlain knows he cannot let them go, but he also cannot bring himself to shoot them. He tells them his predicament, then gives a stirring speech in which he asks them to join the Twentieth Maine. All but 6 men agree.
June 29, 1863: Chapter 3: Buford

Daytime, Gettysburg. General John Buford, commander of the Union cavalry, enters Gettysburg with his two brigades: 2,500 men, all mounted on horses. Buford is scouting the land ahead of the Union army. He spots a brigade of Confederate infantry in the town, and he is surprised to see them apparently without cavalry. He decides to remain in Gettysburg & sends a message back to the infantry commander, General John Reynolds, telling him that he has occupied Gettysburg & expects an even larger Confederate force to arrive the next morning.

Buford surveys the area around the town & notices its “high ground.” Buford rides through the middle of the town with his men. The townspeople are relieved to see Union troops. Buford decides to occupy the hills with his men. They dismount & get ready to fight on foot. He hopes to prevent the Confederates from taking the high ground the next day until Reynolds arrives with his troops.
June 29, 1863: Chapter 4: Longstreet

Nighttime, Confederate camp west of Gettysburg. The Confederate officers try to teach Lieutenant Arthur Fremantle, a British military observer, how to play poker. Longstreet muses on the upcoming battle. One of his aides, Sorrel, informs Longstreet that a soldier spotted Union cavalry in Gettysburg. The reporting officer’s commander, General Hill, thinks he must have seen a state militia, but Longstreet is not sure.

Longstreet broods while chatting briefly with Fremantle. General George Pickett, a good soldier & a perfumed dandy arrives much to everyone’s pleasure. Other officers under Pickett’s command also arrive: Lew “Lo” Armistead, Jim Kemper, & Dick Garnett.
Pickett’s division has not had much action. The division has been placed at the rear of the army. Pickett approaches Longstreet & asks that his division be moved up, but Longstreet refuses, adding that if the army has to turn & run, Pickett’s division will then be leading the fight to escape. Pickett leaves and Longstreet then talks to Armistead.
Armistead’s old friend, General Winfield Hancock, is in the Union army, & Longstreet speculates that he may soon meet his friend in battle. Longstreet tells Armistead that he would prefer to use defensive warfare tactics such as trenches. Armistead replies that his ideas are good but that the Confederate army is not the army to try them out on. Besides, Armistead says, General Lee would never agree to defensive warfare because he thinks it is somewhat dishonorable.
Back at the poker game, several of the players, including a Southern politician, become upset at Fremantle for saying that the war is over slavery.
The next morning, skirmishes begin between Buford’s men and the Confederate infantry in Gettysburg.
July 1, 1863: Chapter 1: Lee

Morning, Confederate camp west of Gettysburg. General Robert E. Lee rises and is having some slight heart troubles so is taking things easy. He discusses the military situation with his aide, Taylor, noting that General Stuart has not reported back with the position of the Union army, thus leaving Lee blind. Several of Lee’s officers want Stuart to be court-martialed for his failure to report on the Union army, but Lee is fond of Stuart, who has been an excellent soldier until now. Lee tells General Longstreet that he is Lee’s most valuable officer & must not risk himself near the front in battle.

Longstreet reports that the new commander of the Union army is George Meade. Longstreet adds that he believes Union cavalry have occupied Gettysburg. He suggests that the Confederate army swing around to the southeast of Gettysburg and put itself between the Union army and Washington, D.C., cutting the Union soldiers off from the capital and forcing them to attack. Lee is annoyed by Longstreet’s stubborn advocacy of defensive tactics and refuses to use them. As the 2 ride out to start the day’s march, they hear the sound of artillery fire in the distance.
July 1, 1863: Chapter 2: Buford

Morning, Gettysburg. Confederate forces begin to attack General Buford’s cavalry. Buford leads his men on foot, like infantry. After the initial Confederate attack, Buford sends word of the attack to General Reynolds, who is heading toward Gettysburg with his infantry troop. Buford fervently hopes that Reynolds arrives at Gettysburg before it is too late—Buford has lost battles before while waiting for infantry to arrive. Buford orders his cannoneers to fire several shots. The Confederate infantry attack begins. Buford rides back & forth among his soldiers, directing the battle.

The Confederates outnumber the Union soldiers, but the Confederates have been expecting a small militia, & their early attacks are easily repulsed by Buford’s men. Soon, the Confederates are attacking & the tide begins to turn. When Buford thinks he can hold out no more, Reynolds arrives & provides needed relief for Buford’s brigade. Just as Reynolds’s men move in, Reynolds is shot & killed. The attack continues without a commander, & Buford rides out to scout the other hills & make sure no Confederate forces are moving in on them.
July 1, 1863: Chapter 3: Lee

Morning, Gettysburg. Lee arrives in Gettysburg to discover a small battle in full fury. General Heth’s troops are engaged in battle against the Union infantry that has arrived to relieve Buford. Lee is annoyed because he has no information from General Stuart, the cavalry leader who has been assigned to report on the movements of the Union army.

No one knows where Stuart is, and Longstreet thinks he is out joyriding. Lee surveys the field with binoculars and sees that Heth’s forces have been forced back by the Union troops. Heth appears & tells Lee the story: he moved in to Gettysburg, thinking he would be fighting a militia, & discovered he was fighting Buford’s dismounted cavalry. The cavalry put up a good fight, and just as Heth thought he might win, Union infantry—Reynolds’s men—appeared & repulsed the attack.
As Heth tells this story, Lee receives reports from one of his generals, General Rodes, who informs him that his division has arrived along the northern flank of the Union army & has already engaged the enemy. He also sends word that Jubal Early’s division will be joining his attack within an hour. It seems to Lee that everything is happening almost as if it were planned, & he tells Heth to attack again, along with General Pender’s division.
The battle rages, & then General Hill reports that Heth has been wounded & that the Union forces are fighting better than he remembers them ever doing. Eventually, the Confederate army forces the Union army back, & the Union troops fall back to the hills on the northern end of Cemetery Ridge, Cemetery Hill, & Culp’s Hill. Lee sends a message to General Ewell, telling him to pursue the Union troops & to take the hill “if possible.”
Longstreet arrives & surveys the scene. He suggests that the Confederate army should swing around behind the hills & position itself between the Union army & Washington, D.C.
Lee refuses to disengage—essentially to retreat & move the army—in the face of the enemy. A message arrives from Ewell—he has not yet taken Cemetery Hill because he fears a Union attack from the south of Gettysburg. Ewell never begins the attack, much to Lee’s consternation.
July 1, 1863 Chapter 4: Chamberlain

Afternoon, south of Gettysburg. Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain marches his men toward Gettysburg. Tom, Chamberlain’s brother, explains the personalized brigade bugle call to a new recruit. As he rides his horse, Chamberlain broods & daydreams, realizing that he is starting to love the life of the soldier. He also recalls piling corpses to block bullets & the constant awareness in battle that one can die at any instant. He wonders if he has grown to love that too.

He remembers his boyhood home, reciting the “What a piece of work is man!” speech from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, which includes the line, “In action, how like an angel!” He recalls how his father replied, “Well, boy, if he’s an angel, he’s sure a murderin’ angel.” The young Chamberlain then gave a class speech entitled “Man, the Killer Angel.
The regiment marches through the town of Hanover, whose residents are very glad to see Union troops. As they near Gettysburg, the soldiers receive word of the battle that day, & the regiment swiftly moves toward the town. They set up camp just outside the town & wait for morning.
July 1, 1863: Chapter 5: Longstreet

Evening, Confederate camp just west of Gettysburg. Longstreet rides aimlessly on his horse & broods, examining the battlefield. He is anxious about the hills, because he recognizes the strategic importance of the high ground. Longstreet knows that Lee will attack the next day. Lee is “fixed & unturnable, a runaway horse,” and Longstreet believes that Lee is making a mistake.

Lee will not listen to Longstreet– Lee’s reticence makes Longstreet depressed. Longstreet starts to think about his children, all 3 of them dead from fever over the winter–he becomes even more depressed. He knows that the army is all that he has left.
Fremantle, the British observer, fumbles his way next to Longstreet. Fremantle is giddy with pleasure at having seen the fighting earlier that day. He is impressed by the Southern people, since they often seem similar to the English. He says that Lee is an English general, & that Lee has gained a reputation in Europe—mostly because Americans are never thought of as gentlemen.
Fremantle adds, “You cannot imagine the surprise. One hears all these stories of Indians & massacres & lean backwoodsmen with ten-foot rifles & rain dances and what not, & yet here, your officers. . . . Why, do you know, your General Lee is even a member of the Church of England?” Fremantle hopes that the English & the Confederacy can become allies. England never enters the war against the Union because the Confederates support slavery, to which England is opposed.
Fremantle & Longstreet also discuss “Stonewall” Jackson, Lee’s former right-hand general who was killed before the Battle of Gettysburg. Another Confederate officer, Dick Garnett, was shamed when Jackson accused him of cowardice in retreating from an impossible fight, & Jackson tried to have Garnett court-martialed. Garnett, who now serves under General Pickett, had no chance to clear his name before Jackson died, & now he is depressed because of his dishonored reputation.
“Honor without intelligence . . . could lose the war,” Longstreet says, referring obliquely to Lee & his style of gentlemen’s warfare. Longstreet describes how he believes a new form of fighting should be introduced, one that takes advantage of new weapon technology such as repeating rifles. Longstreet thinks that Lee “would rather lose the war than his dignity.”
July 1, 1863: Chapter 6: Lee

Lee meets with generals Ewell, Early, & Rodes. Lee wants to know why Ewell has not taken Cemetery Hill. Ewell claims that he did not think it possible. Early adds that there were rumors of Union forces to the north that had to be confirmed before they could make an attack, so they decided to wait for another general, Johnson, to arrive with his forces. Early adds that Cemetery Hill “will be a very strong position” for the Union forces.

Annoyed, Lee asks Ewell if he can attack the right (northern) flank of the Union army the next day. Early thinks it would be a difficult fight, but if Longstreet attacks the left flank, it might draw enough Union troops to the south to make an attack by Ewell and Early worthwhile. Lee mentions Longstreet’s suggestion that they move the army southeast & come between the Union army & Washington, D.C.
Ewell thinks that to leave the town, which they have captured, would demoralize the troops, and Early thinks it unwise to move an entire army around the high, fortified position that the Union forces are holding. Lee agrees to himself that it would be extremely difficult to move the army without Stuart & his cavalry to guide them.
Lee leaves & meets General Isaac Trimble, who is furious with Ewell for not having taken Cemetery Hill. Trimble tells Lee that he offered to take the hill with no more than a regiment, but Ewell made no response: he simply froze. Lee retires to his headquarters in an old house & considers his options. Lee sends for Ewell. Ewell arrives, somewhat sheepish, & tells his commander that he & Early think they should attack the right flank, as Lee suggested. Ewell apologizes for being too “careful” that day, & Lee accepts the apology & does not chide Ewell very much. Lee goes to sleep wondering where Stuart is.
July 1, 1863: Chapter 7 Buford

Late evening, Union camp. Buford returns to Cemetery Hill to survey the fortifications the Union army is building. Buford enters a farmhouse. Officers are arguing over who is really in command, General Howard or General Winfield Hancock.

John Gibbon, one of Hancock’s men, tells Buford that Howard is blaming Buford for the loss that day, claiming that Buford’s men, who had fought all morning, should have supported Howard’s men on the right flank. Hancock comes to talk to Buford, & Buford tells him about the death of Reynolds. Hancock orders Buford to get his cavalry refitted. General Meade arrives, & Buford leaves to brood.
July 2, 1863: Chapter 1 Fremantle

Early morning, Confederate camp. English military observer Arthur Fremantle awakens, excited at the prospect of watching another battle—& he hopes, another Confederate victory. He chats with other foreign observers, most notably a fat Austrian named Ross & marvels at how wonderful it is to be in the camp of what he thinks is the winning side. He rides to Gettysburg & climbs a tree to get a good view of the scene. He sees the officers meeting to discuss the plans for the day & wonders if there is any chance of the Confederacy rejoining England after the war. Lee arrives to meet with Longstreet & Fremantle—conscious that the soldiers are laughing at him as he hangs in a tree—comes down.

He speaks briefly with Ross, who is dressed in his bright blue, amusing war costume, complete with a metal helmet. Fremantle is quite unaware of the grave nature of the battle, and he always believes that the gentlemanly South will naturally win the war: “Fremantle knew with the certainty of youth & faith that [Longstreet] could not possibly lose this day, not with these troops, not with Englishmen, the gentlemen against the rabble.” He is delighted, if a bit nervous, at the sound of the first cannon.
Fremantle asks Longstreet why the Confederates have not entrenched, wondering why they are not worried about a Union attack. Longstreet replies that Meade would never attack, & also that the Union forces are so fortified in their position that they would not want to move. Longstreet says, as he always does, that the best action for the Confederates is to swing around the Union army & come between them & Washington, D.C. to force the Union to attack. Lee will not agree to this plan.
Fremantle leaves to join his fellow Europeans. He muses again on how the “experiment” of America has failed, & the “equality of rabble” has changed back to a class system in just 2 generations—but only in the South. The South is “the Old Country.” He believes he has stumbled on something profound
July 2, 1863: Chapter 2: Chamberlain

Morning, Union camp just outside Gettysburg. Chamberlain sits with his regiment and awaits new orders. He cannot help thinking about his home in Maine, & his wife. Private Kilrain comes over & informs Chamberlain that they have discovered an escaped slave. He is a large man who speaks little English, but he manages to thank the Union soldiers.

Chamberlain has the surgeon bind the man’s wounds & gives him food, but he cannot take the slave with the troops. He tries to point the slave in the right direction the best he can. Chamberlain is intrigued by the encounter—he has seen few black men in his life, & he finds himself somewhat bothered by his feelings when he sees the man. He feels slight revulsion, which occurs despite what he believes he should feel– it irks him.
He begins to move the regiment forward. Another colonel appears & informs Chamberlain that his group is headed toward the small hill—Little Round Top.
Chamberlain again muses about the black man. He tells Kilrain that in his mind, there was never any real difference between black men & white men—black men have the same “divine spark” as other human beings. Kilrain says that while he has some reservations about blacks as a race, he thinks there are good ones & bad ones, just like white men. Chamberlain recalls an argument he had with a Southern preacher, who said that a Negro was not a man.
Chamberlain left the room angrily. Another Southerner, a professor, came to him & apologized for the preacher’s behavior, but he said he could not apologize for his views. He tried to persuade Chamberlain intelligently, as Chamberlain had tried to do with the preacher, and he had asked Chamberlain, “What if it is you who are wrong?” At that point Chamberlain found that he wanted to kill the Southern professor, despite his mild nature, and it was then that Chamberlain realized that this disagreement might come to war. Yet he also had his doubts. Kilrain calls Chamberlain an idealist.
July 2, 1863: Chapter 3 Longstreet

Morning, Confederate camp. Lee & Longstreet meet to discuss the plan of attack for that day. Longstreet still wants to fight defensively, but he realizes that Lee has made up his mind to attack that day. Ewell & Early think that the Union forces on Cemetery Hill & Culp’s Hill are now too concentrated to attack. They suggest that if Longstreet’s men attack the left of the Union line, on Little Round Top & along Cemetery Ridge, they might draw off enough Union forces to allow Ewell & Early to take Cemetery Hill & Culp’s Hill. Once Longstreet is heavily engaged with the enemy, Ewell’s forces will strike.

Lee likes this plan, but he wants Longstreet’s approval. The stubborn Longstreet refuses to give his approval, but he also refrains from arguing, so Lee simply orders him to attack the Union’s left. Longstreet says that he must delay at least an hour until one more brigade arrives. Lee outlines his plan to General McLaws, who asks if he can send men to examine the roads leading to the Union’s left before they march. Longstreet refuses, saying he does not want McLaws to leave his division. Another general, Hood, asks for permission to send a brigade around the end of the Union line to try to disrupt the supply lines in their rear. Lee refuses the offer, saying he needs to concentrate his forces.
The officers leave to start the battle. Longstreet meets with Lee’s engineer, Captain Johnston, who is to guide Longstreet’s corps into position for the battle. Longstreet tells him to make sure the troops are not observed by Union soldiers. Johnston says he has scouted the Union position, but he has not scouted the roads leading up to it, & he fears that not knowing the roads will cause a problem. Longstreet grumbles to himself at the absence of Stuart, who would have reconnoitered all the roads around Gettysburg, had he been present.
The march begins at noon. Lee & Longstreet ride together–for a moment they both feel somewhat giddy, almost looking forward to the assault. Then Longstreet reminds them that they once fought to defend the very people they are now attacking, making both men a bit depressed. Lee says that the “higher duty” was to Virginia, to their own people. Lee also talks about the difficulty of command, & of loving the army life but also knowing that he is constantly ordering his men to their deaths. Longstreet realizes that Lee thinks Longstreet is too close to the men & that Longstreet’s love of defensive tactics comes from his unwillingness to order them to their deaths.
Lee rides off & Captain Johnson approaches. Johnson reports that if the troops march any farther on the road, the Union will be able to see them. Annoyed, Longstreet orders a countermarch that takes the troops almost to the point where they started and brings them around again, which costs a lot of valuable time. They discover that the Union troops have left Cemetery Ridge & dug in to the peach orchard just in front of Little Round Top. Longstreet is dismayed—Lee’s orders will be difficult to carry out with the new Union position, but Longstreet cannot afford the time it would take to protest, & he doubts Lee would change his mind even if he could be reached.
Hood objects to continuing the attack, since all their movements are observed, & the Union forces are already entrenched in the orchard. Since the Union troops have left the ridge, they have left their left flank unsupported and vulnerable. Lee has ordered a frontal assault–Longstreet believes he has no choice. Though the losses will be heavy, Longstreet orders Hood to attack the peach orchard. He tells Hood that he must take Little Round Top. The battle begins, & heavy losses occur quickly.
July 2, 1863: Chapter 4 Chamberlain

Afternoon, south of Gettysburg. Chamberlain & his men are finally called upon to move, just as the Confederate attack begins. Chamberlain forms his regiment & waits for his orders. His commanding officer, Colonel Vincent, finally begins the march. As the men move forward, they begin to come within range of the artillery exchange. Chamberlain orders his brother Tom to move to the rear of the regiment, before it becomes “a hard day for mother.”

The regiment passes Big Round Top and begins to move up onto Little Round Top. Vincent places Chamberlain’s regiment, the Twentieth Maine, on the southeastern side of Little Round Top. He tells Chamberlain, “You are the extreme left of the Union line. . . . The line runs from here all the way back to Gettysburg. But it stops here. . . . You cannot withdraw. Under any conditions. If you go, the line is flanked. . . . You must defend this place to the last.”
Chamberlain’s men dig in, piling up rocks to build a stone wall. Chamberlain orders one of his men, Morrill, to take his company farther out to the left, in case the Confederates try to go around the Twentieth Maine & surprise them from the side. Chamberlain goes to the top of the hill & sees that the Union forces in the peach orchard are being overrun & that the Confederates will soon reach Little Round Top. He returns to his regiment & tells the 6 prisoners from the former Second Maine that if they join the regiment now, there will be no charges. 3 of the men take him up on the offer.
The infamous “Rebel yell” is heard, & the Confederate forces are on their way. Chamberlain finally realizes that he is the end of the Union line & that he has been ordered never to retreat. The Confederates attack. The Twentieth Maine succeeds in repelling the initial charge. Chamberlain tries to reach Morrill to see if he & his company are all right, but a 2nd attack quickly follows the 1st. This time, Kilrain is shot, but the wound seems slight, just under his armpit. Chamberlain jumps up on a rock & is promptly knocked down by a shot that lands near his foot. His foot hurts, but there is no hole in the boot. He climbs up on another boulder to get a better view & is shot again. This time the bullet glances off his sword scabbard.
Chamberlain calls all the commanders to him & orders them to hold the line. He says that they are about to be flanked on the left & that they have to stop the Confederates at all costs. He outlines a strategic maneuver & the commanders quickly leave to execute his orders. Chamberlain returns to Kilrain, who is becoming weaker from his wound.
The Twentieth is beginning to run out of ammunition. The next attack hits hard all along the line. Chamberlain’s men hold, but they are running very low on bullets. The next attack knocks a hole in the line, & Chamberlain instinctively orders the nearest man to fill it—his brother Tom. Tom survives the attack without injury.
The Twentieth Maine is now down to 200 men, having lost 100 in the battle. The regiment does not have enough ammunition to handle another attack. Chamberlain decides to order the men to fix their bayonets to their rifles & charge down the hill in a motion “like a swinging door” to sweep the Confederates away. Screaming, Chamberlain leads his men down the hill, & the plan works amazingly well, as the beleaguered Confederates flee in terror from the charging Union troops. As they try to escape, they run into Morrill’s company. Many of the retreating Confederates are soon either dead, wounded, or taken prisoner.
Chamberlain returns to Kilrain, who has been shot in the arm again. Kilrain praises the job Chamberlain has done. Chamberlain meets up with Colonel Rice, the new brigade commander since Vincent was killed during the battle. Rice is very impressed with the bayonet charge. The regiment has suffered casualties in nearly a third of its men. Kilrain is taken away to receive first aid, & Rice asks Chamberlain to move his men to Big Round Top. There will be no more fighting for them that day.
July 2, 1863: Chapter 5 Longstreet

Evening, Confederate camp. Longstreet moves through the makeshift Confederate hospital, which is overflowing with wounded from the day’s battle. He sees General Hood, whose hand was injured during the battle. The drugged Hood asks if the attack succeeded, & Longstreet lies and says it did. One of Longstreet’s aides tells him that Hood’s officers are blaming Longstreet for the failure of the attack. They would never blame Lee for a failed attack, so they immediately turn to Longstreet. Longstreet’s head aide, Sorrel, reports that the casualties are heavy. Nearly half of the men in Hood’s division, 8,000 men, have been killed, wounded, or captured in 2 hours of fighting.

Longstreet thinks that there are no longer enough men for another frontal assault & that Lee will not order one the next day. Longstreet orders Sorrel to get hard counts of the casualties the amount of ammunition & weapons remaining. As Sorrel rides away, another aide appears to tell Longstreet that Pickett has finally arrived. Longstreet tells the aide he will meet Pickett shortly. Longstreet rides toward Lee’s headquarters & finds Stuart waiting outside, surrounded by reporters & admirers–enjoying the attention. Longstreet pays little attention. Longstreet meets Lee, who draws him into the headquarters & away from the press. Lee, thinking that the Union forces had nearly retreated, tells Longstreet that he thought it was very close that day.
Longstreet thinks Lee is deluding himself. He tells Lee that there are 3 Union corps dug into the high ground in front of him. Longstreet pushes, 1 last time, for Lee to move the Confederate army around to the right, to the southeast, and to put itself between the Union army and Washington, D.C. Another general appears & demands that Longstreet persuade Lee to court-martial Stuart, who has left the Confederate army blind to the Union’s movements. Longstreet says he will talk to Lee, but that he does not think it will do any good. Fremantle appears & tries to congratulate Longstreet on his “victory.”
As they ride along aimlessly, Longstreet realizes that Lee will attack the next day, an idea he thinks is suicidal. Fremantle claims that Lee is the most “devious” man he has ever met, and Longstreet replies that the Confederacy does not win with tactics, it wins with sheer determination. He is actually annoyed with the lack of tactics in the campaign, & thinks Lee does not use enough strategy. He says it will be a “bloody miracle” if the Confederates win the war. He resolves to speak to Lee in the morning, to make 1 last attempt to get him to move to the right.
Longstreet moves on–runs into Pickett & the other officers. Longstreet speaks with Armistead, who is disgusted by the fact that Fremantle thinks the Confederacy is fighting for slavery. Longstreet shrugs—he believes that the war is indeed about slavery, though that is not why he personally is fighting.
Armistead is old friends with Winfield Hancock, a Union general whom Longstreet fought earlier in the day. Armistead says that he had once vowed to Hancock that if he ever raised his hand against Hancock, then God may strike Armistead dead.Eventually, the 2 men return to the party with the other officers, & forget their troubles for a few hours.
July 2, 1863 Chapter 6: Lee

Late evening, Confederate camp. Lee considers his options for the following day. He recalls how he had once vowed to defend the very land he was attacking, when he was part of the whole United States army. Lee reflects on his past, & he tries to decide what to do. He considers a retreat, but realizes he has never seen men fight well after a retreat. He also knows his own army will never be stronger.

Stuart appears, having been sent for by Lee. Lee gently but firmly chastises the cavalry leader for joyriding & leaving him blind. Stuart tries to resign from his commission, but Lee will not accept his resignation & tells him to get back to work. An aide reports to Lee that Ewell’s camp is in much disorder because Ewell defers too much to Early. The aide tells Lee that Early and Ewell got the men moving very late, almost when Longstreet had finished his attack, thus ruining the plan to divide the Union’s forces. It occurs to Lee that he has attacked the Union on both sides. The smartest next move, he thinks, would be to attack in the center. He decides to send his forces in to the center of Cemetery Ridge & break the Union army in 2, then send Stuart & his cavalry around to the rear to finish the job.
July 3, 1863: Chapter 1 Chamberlain

Early morning, Big Round Top. From the hill’s summit, Chamberlain watches the sun rise. Chamberlain’s foot is still bleeding, & he has to keep moving to ignore the pain. His men are low on rations & hungry. Tom appears & offers Chamberlain some coffee. Chamberlain accepts it gratefully & remembers that he used his own brother to plug a hole in the front line the previous day. He misses Kilrain, who is absent because of his injury, & Chamberlain wishes he could talk to him. Tom reveals that he did not use his bayonet the previous day, as he could not bring himself to stab anyone. He points out that Chamberlain was never scared.

Chamberlain notices some artillery begin to fire in the north. He thinks they might be attacked again, but now the men have dug in deep & have plenty of ammunition. An aide arrives & says that Chamberlain’s regiment has been relieved. The relief brigade quickly arrives, & the aide leads Chamberlain’s men away & toward a “safe place” to rest, “right smack dab in the center of the line.”
July 3, 1863 Chapter 2: Longstreet

Morning, Confederate camp. Longstreet is preparing for the assault he knows is coming. There is still an opportunity to move southeast, but Union cavalry is quickly closing in on his army’s flank. Lee arrives & the 2 ride out to survey the battlefield. Longstreet makes 1 last attempt to persuade Lee to move south, but Lee responds, “The enemy is there . . . and there’s where I’m going to strike him.” Lee wants Longstreet to move, with Pickett’s fresh division in front, and split the Union line in the middle. Longstreet objects—he has lost half of his men, & 1 of his best officers, Hood, is injured. If he moves forward, the entire rear of the army is exposed. He informs Lee that it is his military opinion that a frontal assault will be a disaster.

Lee is certain that the Union lines will break, & he sees no alternative. There is the sound of gunfire to the north. Ewell has engaged the enemy without orders. Lee & Longstreet soon discover that Union soldiers have actually attacked Ewell while he was getting ready, & their action surprises the Confederate officers. Ewell’s battle begins to mount, & Lee makes his firm decision to charge the Union center. He tells Longstreet that he must reach a clump of trees on Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet replies, 1 last time, that he thinks the attack will fail, but Lee dismisses his concerns. Longstreet becomes despondent. He knows Lee will not relieve him & give the attack to someone else, because there is no one else capable of leading the charge. Yet he also knows that it is doomed to fail. Longstreet’s depressed mood comes close to despair.
Longstreet forces himself to move on, knowing that he cannot reveal his doubts to his officers. He orders the artillery commander, Alexander, to fire at the hill with as much ammunition as he has. Once Alexander thinks enough damage has been dealt, he is to let Longstreet know so the attack can begin.
Longstreet meets with his generals & describes the plan. They are all inspired & moved by the heroic plan, & they do not realize how hopeless it is. Longstreet is certain there will be terrible casualties. Longstreet knows there is nothing he can do but watch.
July 3, 1863: Chapter 3 Chamberlain

Chamberlain & his regiment march into the center of Cemetery Ridge. An aide tells Chamberlain that General Meade had wanted to retreat that morning, but the other generals had gathered together & forced him to remain, confident that the Confederates would attack again & that they could be repelled. General Hancock even predicts that the Confederates will attack the center of the line.

Chamberlain places his regiment, then heads over to the area where Meade and the other generals are having breakfast. He meets with his general, Sykes, who praises Chamberlain’s actions the previous day on Little Round Top. Sykes hints that Chamberlain may become a brigade commander. Chamberlain returns to the area where the generals are and manages to get some chicken.
Chamberlain goes to rest and is joined by his brother Tom. Tom tells him that Kilrain has died. Suddenly, the Confederate artillery opens fire, & the world explodes around Chamberlain. He crawls around, trying to get out of the fire, & finally hides behind a stone wall, where he drifts in & out of sleep as the cannon shells land all around him.
As the fire dies down an hour later, Chamberlain realizes an attack is coming and that he must form his regiment. Tired and weary from the blood loss of his foot wound, Chamberlain falls asleep again.
July 3, 1863 Chapter 4: Armistead

General Lew Armistead watches the Confederate guns fire upon the center of Cemetery Ridge. He sees General Pickett writing a letter to his young girlfriend. Armistead wanders around the lines, remembering his late wife and feeling gloomy. He knows that he will die soon. Armistead gives Pickett his wedding ring, & asks Pickett to send it to Armistead’s girlfriend. After about an hour, the artillery fire subsides.

The attack will soon begin. Armistead sees Dick Garnett, who has chosen to ride a horse into battle, though it is against orders. His foot is injured & since he will be the only man riding a horse, he will be an easy target. Garnett realizes this risk, but he is riding to save his honor, & expects to die.
Armistead & Pickett ride into the woods to meet with Longstreet, who is gloomily sitting on his horse. Longstreet is crying. Then Longstreet gives the order for the charge, and Pickett rides away gleefully.

Armistead forms his brigade, and it begins to move toward the Union line. It is a steady, strong march, full of determination. Soon the Union artillery begins to open up, blowing huge holes in the Confederate lines. The Confederates repeatedly close up the holes, but soon the shells are falling all around them.

Once they come close enough to the Union lines, the Union soldiers open up with musketry, riddling the front lines with bullets. Armistead sees Garnett’s horse, without a rider. Screaming begins, and the lines begin to falter in their march. Soon the Confederates are fleeing, though some, like Armistead, continue to march and make it all the way to the clump of trees they were assigned to reach before they are shot. Armistead is shot, & he dies telling a soldier to send his regrets to his friend on the Union lines, General Hancock.
July 3, 1863: Chapter 5 Longstreet

Longstreet sits on a rail fence on Seminary Ridge, watching the horrific spectacle of Pickett’s Charge unfold. Everything he has feared has come to pass. Men come screaming to him, asking for reinforcements, but he has already sent in every man he has. He orders Pickett to fall back. Fremantle, realizing the terrible loss the Confederacy has suffered, offers Longstreet a drink.

Longstreet knows the battle is over. He picks up a rifle & plans to walk down & join the last battery of guns still firing at the Union troops. Then he sees Lee riding among the troops, telling them the loss is “all his [Lee’s] fault.” The soldiers try to argue otherwise, but Lee knows he has failed. Pickett reappears, & Lee tells him to reform his division. In tears, Pickett replies that he has no division.
Longstreet mounts & rides toward the last battery, still firing uphill. His aides try to stop him, but he insists. He is soon joined by some of his staff. He rides forward until a shell knocks one of his aides off his horse. His aides pull him back and away from the rifle fire. The Union forces pull back & do not attack, though part of Longstreet wants them to come to his forces and end the war. Longstreet knows the Confederate army will never recover from this day.
Lee comes to Longstreet and tells him that they will withdraw that night to the river. Longstreet tells Lee that he does not think the war can be won now, and Lee does not disagree, though he does not agree either. He says, “If the war goes on—and it will, it will—what else can we do but go on? It is the same question forever, what else can we do? If they fight, we will fight with them. And does it matter after all who wins? Was that ever really the question? Will God ask that question, in the end?” The 2 generals ride off to oversee the retreat.
Chapter 6: Chamberlain

Chamberlain rides out into the edges of the battlefield, still trying to clear the image of the approaching Confederates from his mind. He has seen Pickett’s Charge, & he realizes that he has been a part of history. Tom comes to him, & admires the fight the Confederates put up. He expresses his amazement that the Confederates fight so hard for slavery. Chamberlain looks at all the dead men & says that they are all equal now, “in the sight of God.”

Chamberlain remembers how he used his own brother to plug a hole in the regiment line, & he decides that he may have to send him away, as much as he would like to keep his brother nearby to watch him. However, he knows it will weaken his decisions to have a brother nearby. A great storm breaks out, washing away much of the blood & bodies, & cleansing the land. Chamberlain & Tom return to their regiment prepared to continue fighting.

Tell General Ewell the Federal troops are retreating in confusion. It is only necessary to push those people to get possession of those heights. Of course, I do not know his situation, and I do not want him to engage a superior force, but I do want him to take that hill, if he thinks practicable.

This passage is from July 1, Chapter 3. It is spoken by General Lee, & it is paraphrased from something the historical Lee said during the battle. Lee’s statement is well known to historians, as it represents a small error that may have cost him a potential victory. The phrase “if he thinks practicable” allows Ewell to choose whether or not to attack Culp’s Hill & Cemetery Hill. Many historians have argued that Lee’s orders were never truly that ambiguous—Lee wanted the hills taken, unless the entire Union army was sitting on them. Ewell, overly cautious, does not take the hills, & the Union army quickly digs into them. “Stonewall” Jackson had been killed several weeks before Gettysburg, & Ewell had been chosen to replace him. Many historians believe that Jackson, who knew how to move his troops, & who knew Lee very closely, would have taken the hills without hesitation.

Awake all night in front of Fredericksburg. We attacked in the afternoon, just at dusk, and the stone wall was aflame from one end to the other, too much smoke, couldn’t see, the attack failed, couldn’t withdraw, lay there all night in the dark, in the cold among the wounded and dying. Piled-up bodies in front of you to catch the bullets, using the dead for a shield; remember the sound? Of bullets in dead bodies? . . . Remember the flap of a torn curtain in a blasted window, fragment-whispering in that awful breeze: never, forever, never, forever.

In this passage from July 1, Chapter 4, Chamberlain remembers the Battle of Fredericksburg. The passage shows Chamberlain’s impressions of his early combat. Unlike many others fighting, Chamberlain was a citizen rather than a career soldier. These early battles & the horror of piling up the corpses of his comrades to block bullets have made a strong impression on his mind. Chamberlain is an intellectual who teaches in a college, so he remembers the horrors imaginatively, possibly exaggerating their gravity in his mind. Chamberlain’s struggle to deal with the horrors of war illustrates the difficulties that citizens-turned-soldiers had to face when they entered the war.

I was really thinking of killing him, wiping him off the earth, and it was then I realized for the first time that if it was necessary to kill them, then I would kill them, and something at the same time said: you cannot be utterly right.

These lines are spoken by Chamberlain in July 2, Chapter 2. The man he refers to is a fellow professor, from the South, who tries to convince Chamberlain that blacks are not really “humans.” Unconvinced by Chamberlain’s arguments, the professor asks Chamberlain, “What if it is you who are wrong?” Chamberlain is so enraged at the man’s racism that he wants to kill him, yet Chamberlain realizes that it is difficult to be so convinced of one’s correctness as to justify killing. The passage gives us the perspective of a Union intellectual on one of the causes of the war. Chamberlain has just met an escaped slave—he has come face-to-face with what he knows is one of the main reasons for the war. To his surprise, he finds himself mildly repulsed by the sight of the slave, and his reaction troubles him greatly. Many men on both sides felt that the war was being fought over the issue of states’ rights and the preservation of the union rather than slavery. Chamberlain’s deep contemplation of slavery & of his reaction to it, however, illustrates his understanding that one of the fundamental causes of the war is indeed slavery.

Chamberlain raised his saber, let loose the shout that was the greatest sound he could make, boiling the yell up from his chest: Fix bayonets! Charge! Fix bayonets! Charge! Fix bayonets! Charge! He leaped down from the boulder, still screaming, his voice beginning to crack and give, and all around him his men were roaring animal screams, and he saw the whole Regiment rising and pouring over the wall and beginning to bound down through the dark bushes, over the dead and dying and wounded. . . .

From July 2, Chapter 4. While The Killer Angels tells the story of a terrible, real-life battle, it is at its heart an adventure story, and there is no greater action scene in the novel than the charge of the Twentieth Maine down Little Round Top. For over an hour, the regiment has held off the Confederate soldiers attempting to climb the hill. They have hidden behind trees and rock walls and fired downward. But now they have run out of ammunition, and the Confederates are still coming. They have been told they cannot withdraw from the battle. Chamberlain sees only 1 chance: to charge down the hill, bayonets and swords aloft, and try to get the Confederates to flee. The plan works perfectly: the Confederates flee in terror from the screaming Union soldiers. It is a powerful moment, and this scene is also the centerpiece of the film Gettysburg. The novel & film have made the fighting on Little Round Top almost as famous as the Battle of Gettysburg itself.

Thing is, if anything bad happens now, they all blame it on you. I seen it comin’. They can’t blame General Lee. Not no more. So they all take it out on you. You got to watch yourself, General. . . . I saw you take all morning trying to get General Lee to move to the right.

This passage is spoken by Goree, an aide to Longstreet, in July 2, Chapter 5. It foreshadows the fact that Longstreet will eventually be blamed for the loss at Gettysburg. Longstreet’s memoir, which attacks Lee for not moving to the right at Gettysburg, inspires much of this blame. Longstreet soils the memory of one of the most beloved figures in Southern history, and his fellow Southerners scorn him for the rest of his life. Many soldiers in their memoirs refer to Pickett’s Charge as “Longstreet’s Charge.” For decades, Longstreet does indeed take an unfair amount of blame for the loss at Gettysburg. Even after twentieth-century scholars constructed a less biased view of the battle, Longstreet is still a more obscure general than Lee.

The novel is written in a very epic tone. The historical setting and the dramatic use of real—and very famous—historical characters sets it apart from most historical fiction.

SETTING June 29-July 3, 1863
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, a small farm town surrounded by a few hills and ridges

Seminary Ridge–controlled by Confederates

Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s Hill, Little Round Top, and Big Round Top–controlled by the Union.


Technology and strategic development;

the obtrusiveness of death in war

a nation divided



command errors



Lee’s heart troubles


Longstreet’s constant pushing for a defensive posture and Lee’s equally firm refusals imply that Lee is going to make a wrong move somewhere, and he does so with Pickett’s Charge.

One of the major conflicts in the novel is the disagreement between Confederate generals Robert E. Lee & James Longstreet on how they should fight the battle.

What does each man think the army should do and why?

What is significant about Longstreet’s plan?

The most obvious conflict in The Killer Angels, aside from the battle itself, is the argument between Lee & Longstreet over whether to use offensive or defensive tactics. Longstreet has come to understand the modern nature of warfare–he realizes that new technology, such as long-range artillery & repeating, breech-loading rifles, means the old strategies of war can no longer work as well. A single man armed with a good rifle & in a defensive position—behind a tree, for example—can kill at least 3 men charging toward him from across a field. That means that 1,000 men can kill 3,000 charging across the same field.
Longstreet argues that even more men can be killed if the defender is aided by artillery. Longstreet believes that fortified, defensive positions are the best way to win a battle & he suggests that Lee move the Confederate army to a position SE of Gettysburg, so the Confederates come between the Union army & the Union capital, Washington, D.C. This strategy will force the Union army to attack to protect the capital & if the Confederates dig in to a defensive position they can simply destroy the Union army as it attacks. Longstreet’s strategy is remarkably modern in theory the author portrays him as a man who is ahead of his time.
Robert E. Lee is a more traditional soldier & believes he can destroy the Union army—even in a fortified, high ground position—if he puts his men in the right places. After 2 days of battering the right & left flanks of the Union army, he finally tries to break through the center with Pickett’s Charge. He believes this tactic will allow him to cut the Union army in 2 & then destroy the confused pieces that remain. Lee underestimates the Union artillery, secured in the high ground of Cemetery Ridge, which utterly demolishes the Confederate soldiers as they attempt to cross the field. Pickett’s Charge was the last great infantry charge—never again would so many men slowly march across a field to strike their enemies. Advancements in artillery and rifle technology ended the age of such strategies, & Pickett’s Charge, whether or not a wise plan, marked the end of this era.
Why did the Confederate army lose the Battle of Gettysburg?

Gen. John Buford, the Union cavalry commander, is quick to seize the high ground. He tries to protect Seminary Ridge and the hills behind it: Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, Culp’s Hill, Little Round Top, and Big Round Top. The Union yields Seminary Ridge, but manages to hold on to the rest of the hills. These hills are excellent defensive positions: they allow officers to see much of the surrounding area, they are covered with rocks & trees that can block bullets, & artillery has a greater range when fired from high positions. Robert E. Lee is annoyed with General Ewell for not seizing Culp’s Hill or Cemetery Hill. Chamberlain’s regiment defends Little Round Top, having been ordered never to retreat. The high ground is one of the major elements of the Union victory.

Without J. E. B. Stuart, Lee has no information about the movements of the Union army or the geography of the surrounding area. As a result, strategic planning is very difficult for Lee, particularly since he is in unfamiliar, Northern territory. 1. Pickett’s Charge—Lee’s attempt to completely destroy the Union army—fails, since the Confederate artillery attack prior to the charge misses most of its targets, leaving the Union with almost all its batteries. 2. Lee vastly underestimates the power of the Union position. The Union artillery mows down the advancing Confederate soldiers, killing or wounding nearly 60% of them.
Where is Joshua L. Chamberlain from?

(A) Georgia
(B) Virginia
(C) New Hampshire
(D) Maine

Who tells Longstreet that the Union army is very close by?

(A) General Lee
(B) Harrison
(C) Sorrel
(D) General J. E. B. Stuart

What part of General Lee causes him pain?

(A) His knee
(B) His heart
(C) His arm
(D) His toe

Who leads the Union cavalry?

(A) General John Reynolds
(B) General J. E. B. Stuart
(C) General John Buford
(D) Sorrel

Which of the following is not a battle site?

(A) Follicle Hill
(B) Cemetery Ridge
(C) Little Round Top
(D) Big Round Top

Which general leads the Union forces at Gettysburg?

(A) Robert E. Lee
(B) George C. Meade
(C) Ulysses S. Grant
(D) Arthur Fremantle

Which Union officer is killed just as the battle begins?

(A) Buford
(B) Chamberlain
(C) Reynolds
(D) Kilrain

Which Confederate general fails in his assignment of monitoring the movements of the Union army?

(A) Stuart
(B) Ewell
(C) Armistead
(D) Longstreet

How long did the Battle of Gettysburg last?

(A) One week
(B) Three days
(C) Five days
(D) One day

Which famous general of the Confederate army dies a few weeks before the Battle of Gettysburg?

(A) “Stonewall” Jackson
(B) J. E. B. Stuart
(C) James Longstreet
(D) Jubal Early

What physical ailment bothers General Lee during the battle?

(A) Headaches
(B) A stiff leg
(C) Heart problems
(D) Backache

Which Confederate general did not survive the Battle of Gettysburg?

(A) J. E. B. Stuart
(B) James Longstreet
(C) George Pickett
(D) Lew Armistead

Which soldier has a brother under his own command?

(A) Joshua L. Chamberlain
(B) Robert E. Lee
(C) James Longstreet
(D) George Pickett

What is the capital of the Confederacy?

(A) Richmond
(B) Washington, D.C.
(C) Gettysburg
(D) St. Louis

What is the real name of the Confederate army?

(A) Lee’s Lawmen
(B) The Army of Northern Virginia
(C) The Rough Riders
(D) The Army of the Potomac

Which ally of Chamberlain is shot during the Battle of Little Round Top?

(A) Tom Chamberlain
(B) Winfield Hancock
(C) John Hood
(D) Buster Kilrain

What job did Joshua L. Chamberlain hold before the war?

(A) He was a farmer
(B) He was an insurance salesman
(C) He was a blacksmith
(D) He was a college professor

What type of military strategy does James Longstreet endorse?

(A) Pickett’s Charge
(B) He wants to attack the Union on both flanks
(C) He wants to swing around behind the Union army and block them off from Washington, D.C.
(D) He wants to attack in the middle of the night and surprise the Union forces

He wants to swing around behind the Union army and block them off from Washington DC
Union general Winfield Hancock is friends with which Confederate general?

(A) James Longstreet
(B) George Pickett
(C) Lew Armistead
(D) John Hood

Lew Armistead
What is the name of Chamberlain’s regiment?

(A) The Third Maine
(B) The Forty-Fourth New York
(C) The Twentieth Maine
(D) The Forty-Ninth San Francisco

The Twentieth Maine
In what state is Gettysburg?

(A) Virginia
(B) West Virginia
(C) North Carolina
(D) Pennsylvania

What high ground does Chamberlain’s regiment have to protect?

(A) Culp’s Hill
(B) Little Round Top
(C) Seminary Ridge
(D) Cemetery Hill

Little Round Top
What is cavalry?

(A) Soldiers who fight on foot
(B) Soldiers who fight on horses
(C) Soldiers who build bridges to cross rivers
(D) Men who entertain the troops

Soldiers who fight on horses
What is the name of the Englishman observing the Confederate army?

(A) Arthur Fremantle
(B) Ichabod Crane
(C) Sorrel
(D) Taylor

Arthur Fremantle
Pickett’s Charge was not actually planned by Pickett. Whose idea was the charge?

(A) General John Reynolds
(B) General James Longstreet
(C) General Lew Armistead
(D) General Robert E. Lee

General Robert E. Lee
Who hired Harrison to be a spy?

General Longstreet
General Lee
General Grant
General Pickett

Where does General Buford decide to station his troops?

a.On the bank of the main river leading to Gettysburg

b. In the woods just west of Gettysburg

c. In the hills surrounding a valley

d. In the hills surrounding a cemetery

On June 29, what news does Harrison deliver to General Longstreet?

a. The Union cavalry has attacked General Lee’s troops.

b. The Union cavalry, not militia, is nearby.

c. The militia is marching toward their position.

d. British troops have joined up with the Union cavalry.

Upon what is General Lee reflecting when he notes that they all will go “like leaves from autumn trees?”

a. The death of Union general John Reynolds

b. The approach of General Meade’s cavalry

c. Lee’s own declining health

d. The death of Stonewall Jackson

General Lee’s flexibility in battle is demonstrated by what characteristic?

a. His military training and many victories

b. His ability to inspire his troops to follow his battle plans

c. His ability to revise his battle plans to work around his commanders’ errors

d. His grasp of the full scope of a military battle

What are Napoleons and Parrots?

a. Types of artillery

b. Types of battle maneuvers

c. Types of guns

d. Types of cannons

Which is not a symptom of General Lee’s declining health?

a. A hand with no strength

b. Pain lines around the eyes

c. A weak, gravelly voice

d. A face that is gray and still

What best describes the relationship between Lee and Longstreet?

a. Father-son

b. Comrades-in-arms

c. Commander-subordinate

d. Lifelong friends

Who says the following: “Take care of yourself, Major. You aint the most likable man I ever met, but you sure are useful.”

a. General Lee

b. General Longstreet

c. General Hill

d. Colonel Chamberlain

Who says the following: “Now we’ll see how professors fight.”

a. Colonel Vincent

b. General Meade

c. General Longstreet

d. Colonel Chamberlain

Who says the following: “The point of the war is not to show how brave you are and how you can die in a manly fashion, face to the enemy . . . it’s easy to die.”

a. Longstreet

b. Lee

c. Ewell

d. Jackson


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