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The Killer Angels Essay, Research Paper

Most people think of the Civil War as a military battle

between the North and South. Without studying the subject,

they do not appreciate the facts that make up this historical

event. When one reads the novel, The Killer Angels, the

reader will have a much better perception and understanding

of what actually happened during the war. The Killer Angels,

which is written by Michael Shaara, tells the epic story of the

great battle of Gettysburg, which left 50,000 Confederate

and Union soldiers dead, wounded, or missing. The tale is

told from the alternating points of view from several of each

side?s significant participants. The book moves back and

forth from the North and South perspective. Shaara portrays

the terrible butchery of the three days? fighting through the

vividly ren- dered thoughts and emotions of men such as

General Robert E. Lee, Major General John Buford from

the South and from the North, Brigadier General Lewis

Armistead, and Colonel Joshua Chamberlain. This is a

tremendously moving novel, guaranteed unforget- table. The

book instills in one’s mind what a battle fought during the

Civil War was actu- ally like to be apart of for the soldiers.

The setting for the book takes place in Pennsylvania, where

the Battle of Gettys- burg is fought. The author provides

many detailed maps of both army’s positions. Throughout

the book, the reader is shown the pain, difficulty, anguish,

and other dilemmas the armies face leading up to the final

confrontation. In the beginning of the book we learn about

the North from a spy for the South. His job was to scout the

North’s position as well count the number of troops. He

reports to General Robert E. Lee and recalls what he saw.

The spy’s information proved useful to the Confederates’ at

the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg. The fight at

Gettysburg is a series of battles. At first the South gains

ground but eventually the North secures the better field

position and crushes the Southern forces. The author makes

it clear that it is General Robert E. Lee’s poor judgment and

de- cisions that causes the South to lose the Battle of

Gettysburg. Lee even credits himself for the South’s failure,

as quoted in the book, "No blame can be attached to the

army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me.

. . . I alone am to blame, in perhaps ex- pecting too much of

its prowess and valor . . . could I have foreseen that the

attack on the last day would fail, I should certainly have tried

some other course . . . but I do not know what better course

I could have pursued" [The Killer Angels, Ballantine Books,

page 349.] General Lee wanted to attack the Union troops

at Gettysburg, even though the North had the better ground,

more supplies, and thousands of more troops. Lee’s mind

was already set and he did not want to change it. Overall,

Lee was a good general, but during this particular battle, he

did not make the best of decisions, which in the opinion of

the author led to the Confederate troops losing the war. In

conclusion, I recommend The Killer Angels to anyone who

is curious or inter- ested about finding out what the Civil

War was like. The book provides an accurate and detailed

description of the war. On the cover of the book, General

H. Norman Schwarzkopf is quoted as saying that the book

is "The best and most realistic historical novel about war I

have ever read."


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