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Killer Angels Essay Sample

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Killer Angels Essay Sample

Killer Angels is a fictionalized account of the fall of the Confederacy and victory of the Union otherwise known as the Battle of Gettysburg.
This battle that started on July 1st and lasted 3 days was the major turning point of the Civil War. The two sides were fighting for two very different reasons. The Southern rebellion states were fighting for their states rights, to keep slavery and their independence from the Union. The South, unlike the North, thought of slaves not as humans but like animals. For instance, a man from the South talked about freeing his slaves and says, “Let me put it this way. Suppose I kept a fine stallion in one of my fields, and suddenly one of your Northern abolitionists came up and insisted I should free it. Well, Sir I would not be more astonished. I feel exactly that way about my blacks and I resent your lack of knowledge, sir.” (pg.177) He was talking about how, to him, a slave was no more than a horse.

The North, on the other hand, was fighting in the beginning to preserve the Union. However, later the focus changed to the ending of slavery after the Emancipation Proclamation.

The headstrong second in commanded of the Rebel army was Major Longstreet. He was lonely and depressed because of the recent death of his children.

Longstreet didn’t like the idea of fighting against men he once fought alongside. He talked to Lee about how they all took the oath, the oath to protect and defend the country. Longstreet said, “I must say, there are times when I’m troubled. But… couldn’t fight against home. Not against your own family. And yet we broke the vow.” (p.g.191) So neither Lee nor Longstreet was necessarily fighting because they liked slavery; they were fighting for their home and their people.

You could say Longstreet had a more modern view on war tactics. He approached Lee with the ideas of dividing the army and coming from Washington as well. But Lee wasn’t ready for this change; Longstreet said while talking to Fremantle, “I’ll tell you tactics tomorrow. Devious? Christ in Heaven.

Tomorrow we will attack an enemy dug in on the high ground, and let me tell you, if we win that one it won’t be because of the tactics or because we are great strategists or because there is anything even remotely intelligent about the war at all. It will be a bloody miracle, a bloody miracle.” (p.g.251-252) Longstreet was saying that the only way that they had a chance of winning was if there was a miracle. He was leading these men into a battle that he knew he couldn’t win. After presenting his views to General Lee and being denied, there was nothing left for him to do though. Longstreet started to think about quitting and how he could not do that because he has a duty to his men, he couldn’t leave them alone. He was their leader.

Later as “he watched the battle dissolve to nightmare: the neat military lines beginning to came apart as they crossed the road and no order beyond that but black struggling clots and a few flags in the smoke, tilting the sails above the white sea, going down one by one. He starts to think about how this whole war and sending men out there was all for nothing.” (pg.331) And when he saw Lee, he knew that Lee was at fault, and Lee knew it too. Everyone was dying; they had accomplished nothing.

As Lee and Longstreet talked, Longstreet said how he was not sure if he could lead any more men that will just die, how this could very well be it for them. While Lee said that the only way it is all right to have these men die while leading them is knowing that you aren’t the reason. Each man has his own reason that he joined and fought. Right before Lee gave the order to retreat, Longstreet said, “I was trying to warn you. But… you have no Cause. You and I, we have no Cause. We have only the army. But if a soldier fights only for soldiers, he cannot ever win. It is only the soldiers who die.” (pg.339)

After the war, people said that Longstreet made two very bad mistakes. The first was becoming a Republican and attempting to rebuild the South. And the second was saying that the great Robert E. Lee lost the war.

James Longstreet was a brilliant man and a talented general. He had great ideas that were ahead of his, time but later led to many victories and became modern tactics.

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