"The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara.

Essay by QueenKatieCocoaHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 2003

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The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, tells the story of the historic Battle of Gettysburg. On July 1, 1863, the Confederate army and the Union army fought the largest and most gruesome battle of the American Civil War. Shaara states that he wrote the book because he wanted to know "what it was like to be there, what the weather was like, what the men's faces looked like." Between the days of July 1, 1863 and July 4, 1863, the Civil War's outcome was decided. These four days have been known as the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the war. 51,000 men were dead, wounded, or missing.

The story begins on June 30, 1863. The Confederates move southeast toward the town of Gettysburg. General John Buford, leader of the Union cavalry, rides into Gettysburg and discovers Confederate troops nearby. He wants to avoid a battle within the town so he takes his two brigades, made up of about 2,000 men, and brings them into the hills.

He positions them on high ground, knowing that that will give them an advantage during battle.

On the morning of July 1, Lee wakes up and realizes that Stuart is not there. He cannot plan his attack without knowing where the Union army is. Lee refuses any ideas Longstreet offers him because he wants to defeat the Union immediately. Before Lee even arrives, the battle at Gettysburg begins when the Confederates attack Buford's men. Buford's men fight off the Confederates until General John Reynolds' infantry arrives. The Battle continues but Reynolds is soon killed. When Lee finally arrives in Gettysburg, the battle is in full fury. At the end of the first day, the Union retreats into the hills, where they set up cannons and stone walls.

On July 2nd, Lee...