The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara Essay

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The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara is a novel that outlines the Battle of Gettysburg. It is told from a third person omniscient point of view with the main character rotating each chapter. The book covers a four-day period covering the Battle of Gettysburg and gives insight to each side of the fight (Union and Confederate).

The book begins on Monday, June 29, 1863 and provides an introduction to the circumstances directly before fighting begins. A spy named Harrison, hired by Longstreet comes back to the Confederate camp and alerts General Lee of the proximity of the Federal troops. Both Lee and Longstreet, another Confederate general, adopt an untrustworthy attitude toward the spy.
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The conversation is interrupted as the sound of fighting is heard. The Confederate Army, under General Hill’s command, suffers considerable losses against Buford’s defensive stronghold, before realizing that they are up against an organized force. Buford considers retreating with the knowledge that his reinforcements are much farther away than the Confederate’s. At that moment, Reynolds arrives and provides fresh brigades. Moments later, the Union Army is dealt a devastating blow as Reynolds is killed by a sniper.

A few lucky circumstances including Reynolds death, and Confederate troops arriving conveniently at the Union flank from the North prompt Lee to order attacks from the center and flanks, causing the Union army to retreat. Lee orders troops under command of Ewell and Early to pursue the fleeing troops. Later, he is incensed and demands an explanation from the two commanders who failed to execute for him. This represents the impact of losing Stonewall Jackson, as his knowledge and ability on the battlefield is sorely missed. The battle, a seesaw effect thus far, is prepared to tip one way or the other as Thursday, day three of the battle, approaches.

July 2nd arrives and the beginning of the day describes Chamberlain’s encounter with a black man outside his camp. Although he believes in the cause of fighting for the freedom of men like the one he has seen, he is repulsed by the sight of him. Kilrain and Chamberlain have a