In The Killer AngelsShaaras theme was freedom for the slaves. The Northerners truly believed thatthe slaves deserved to be free, and their desire to set slaves free was the cause ofthe Civil War. Just before the Battle of Gettysburg, Colonel LawrenceChamberlain of the 20th Maine gave a speech to a group of mutineers. He toldthem that the war in which they were fighting was unlike any war in history. Thewar in which they were fighting was not for money, property or power.
It was awar to set other men free. After the battle began, Sergeant Tom Chamberlainasked a group of prisoners why they were fighting. They gave no answer, butasked him the same question. Sergeant Chamberlain answered, To free theslaves, of course. The South, however, was against freeing the slaves. The entireCivil War, whether the people were for or against the idea, was about freedom.
The Killer Angels was informative, very fascinating and I liked it. I likedthe book because I learned many things from it. Id never thought much about theimportance of the Battle of Gettysburg until I read The Killer Angels. From thisbook I learned many things. I learned that the Battle of Gettysburg was the turningpoint of the Civil War. Prior to Gettysburg, the South had won most major battles.
At Gettysburg, however, the North gained its first major victory. From then on,the North continued to gain momentum, winning virtually every battle for thefollowing two years of the war. The Battle of Gettysburg exhausted both armies;greatly decreasing their reserves of ammunition and soldiers. The North had morethan twice as many men as the South, and since the North was industrialized, theycould replenish their supplies of men and ammunition fairly quickly. The South,however, could not replenish their supplies quickly because of the lack ofindustrialization and manpower.
The supplies lost in the Battle of Gettysburgultimately lost the war for the South. I also learned that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was not a goodmilitary tactician. Evidently, he thought that, as in most of the previous battles,the Confederate army could win this one with a series of charges. On the secondday of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee ordered the first charge.
In this charge,Confederate troops would make an uphill attack in an attempt to take a ridge fromthe Federal army. With an uphill advantage, the Federal troops drove theConfederate army into retreat. On the third day of battle, Lee ordered a chargethat would take his army across more than a mile of open field. On the other sideof the field, however, Federal troops released a continuous bombardment ofartillery as the Confederate troops made their way across. The Federal armywiped out most of the Confederate troops before they were halfway across thefield.
By the time the remaining Confederates reached the Federal army theirnumbers were so small the Federal army had no trouble defeating them. A goodcommanding general would have seen that both charges were hopeless. In bothcases the Federal troops had fortified vantage points, while the Confederate armyhad no sufficient protection. Had Lee seen this, he would not have ordered thecharges. Instead, he was too confident of the ability of his army and hisoverconfidence led him to defeat.
Before I read The Killer Angels I knew that the Civil War brought manyfriends to fight against friends and family to fight against family. Until I read TheKiller Angels, I never realized that this was true even in the higher ranks. GeneralHancock of the Federal army and General Armistad of the Confederate wereextremely good friends. Before the war they served together in California, butwhen they war began they parted ways. Throughout the Battle of Gettysburg, bothgenerals were constantly asking for permission to go under flag of truce to theopposing army hoping to see the other.
During the battle both generals werewounded, and they never got another chance to see each other. General Armistadwas mortally wounded, and in his dying words he asked a messenger to send hisapologies to General Hancock that it had to end the way it did.