The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Essay by RightoncroutonCollege, Undergraduate May 2004

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When people think about the Civil War, many people think about the conflict between slavery, yet not often is it that the reader will take into consideration the men who actually fought the war. For the Union soldiers, it was a war fought for freedom of all men, while on the other hand, for the Confederate soldier it was a war fought to preserve their way of life. Regardless of the outcome of the Civil War, Michael Shaara gives a depiction of the honor, duty and love of these men during Gettysburg.

In the novel The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara focuses on Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and the 20th Maine in the days at the battle at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Killer Angels allows the reader to understand different sides of the civil war. The novel shows a great depiction of the tragedy of war, for example, when Lewis Armistead races into battle, even though he is fighting his best friend, Winfield Hancock, and they both get shot.

It really shows the views of each side, and what each character felt. The sense of duty, honor, and the loss of life as well as the unbelievable heroism displayed by both sides in the battle will echo in the minds of every reader.

This outstanding historical novel depicts days at Gettysburg, which occur during summer of 1863. These days are the turning point of the American Civil War and the strong days of the Confederacy. In just three days of slaughter, there were many casualties. At the beginning, General Robert E. Lee leads a confident, Confederate Army north into Pennsylvania, in hopes of defeating the Union Army by provoking it into an attack. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain leads a desperate charge of the 20th Maine. For Colonel Chamberlain's actions, he later received the...