"The Killer Angels": An overview and the significance of the Battle of Gettysburg

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The Killer Angels

By Michael Shaara

ISBN 0-345-34810-9


Michael Shaara's "The Killer Angels" depicts in great detail the events that occurred at and preceded the civil war battle of Gettysburg. Shaara goes to great lengths in order to accurately depict each soldiers' struggles, and the overall moods present while on the battlefield. He takes the view of leaders of both sides of the battles in order to give the reader a more complete picture of what soldiers were feeling and of the battle in general. "The Killer Angels" helped to enlighten me about the events on July 1st through the 3rd of 1863 while making sure that we "can never forget what they did here" like stated in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.

Michael Shaara begins his story on Monday June 29, 1863, with a journey of a spy working for the Confederate Army. The tension quickly escalates from there as the spy brings the Confederate army its first new about the whereabouts of the head of the northern army.

This news forces General Lee to make the decision to find a position in which he will have the advantage over the other army. This area, Gettysburg, will become a place of great trauma which still lives on today. The next day, Buford, a Union cavalry general, leads his advanced cavalry into Gettysburg. Buford decides, instead of falling back, to try to hold the good ground where he is while waiting for the rest of the Union army to catch up. If he had left, "The whole damn Reb army's going to be here in the morning. They'll move right through town and occupy those damned hills" (The Killer Angels p38). If the confederate army were to take the hills around Gettysburg, then it...