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"The Killer Angels" By Michael Shaara

2536 words - 10 pages

The Battle of Gettysburg brought the dueling North and South together to the small town of Gettysburg and on the threshold of splitting the Union. Gettysburg was as close as the United States got to Armageddon and The Killer Angles gives the full day-to-day account of the battle that shaped America's future.Michael Shaara tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg through the eyes of the generals and men involved in the action of the battle. The historical account of the Battle of Gettysburg gives the reader a chance to experience the battle personally and not the history book manner taught in schools. A historical novel gives the facts straightforward and provides no commentary by the people involved in history. The historical account of the Battle of Gettysburg, as seen in The Killer Angles, provides the facts of the battle as seen through the eyes of Generals Robert E. Lee, James Longstreet, John Buford and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. The feelings and inner-thoughts of each General and the conditions of the battle are seen, heard, and felt by the reader in the historical account. Shaara takes historical license with letters, the words of the men, and documents written during the three hellish days of the battle. Shaara avoids historical opinion and provides his own opinion towards the Civil War and the people. The historical account of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg specifically, in The Killer Angles conveys the attitude toward war, attitude towards the Civil War, and cause for fighting the war of General Robert E. Lee, Joshua Chamberlain, James Longstreet, and John Buford.General Robert E. Lee gained stoic and legendary status as the heart and soul of the South in the Civil War, but many did not know his reasons for fighting the war. War and the slaughter of others did not interest Lee and he felt compassion for the Union. Lee had contradictory feelings towards war and says, "He was not only to serve in it but he was to lead it, to make the plans, and issue the orders to kill and burn and ruin...he could not do that" (Shaara 263). The Civil War was not in the taste of General Lee, felt it was his duty, and he could not just stand by and watch the war pass him by. Michael Shaara says of Lee's reason for fighting the Civil War, " He found that he had no choice...Lee could not raise his hand against his own. And so what then? To stand by and do nothing? It had nothing to do with causes; it was no longer a matter of vows" (Shaara 263). Shaara, through his commentary on General Lee, explains that Lee did not want to fight the war but had to. Lee felt it was his duty to fight for his fellow countrymen, but not for a cause, land, or slavery. "So it was no cause and no country he fought for, no ideal and no justice. He fought for his people, for the children, and the kin, and not even the land, because the land was not worth the war, but the people were," said General Lee (Shaara 263). General Lee fought for himself and had no choice but to...

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