When an author writes a book he has a message that he is trying to get across to the reader. This message is called a theme. In The Killer Angels Shaaras theme was freedom for the slaves. The Northerners truly believed that the slaves deserved to be free, and their desire to set slaves free was the cause of the Civil War. Just before the Battle of Gettysburg, Colonel Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine gave a speech to a group of mutineers. He told them that the war in which they were fighting was unlike any war in history.
The war in which they were fighting was not for money, property or power. It was a war to set other men free. After the battle began, Sergeant Tom Chamberlain asked a group of prisoners why they were fighting. They gave no answer, but asked him the same question. Sergeant Chamberlain answered, To free the slaves, of course. The South, however, was against freeing the slaves. The entire Civil 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 liked the book because I learned many things from it.
Id never thought much about the importance of the Battle of Gettysburg until I read The Killer Angels. From this book I learned many things. I learned that the Battle of Gettysburg was the turning point 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 the following two years of the war. The Battle of Gettysburg exhausted both armies; greatly decreasing their reserves of ammunition and soldiers.
The North had more than twice as many men as the South, and since the North was industrialized, they ould replenish their supplies of men and ammunition fairly quickly. The South, however, could not replenish their supplies quickly because of the lack of industrialization and manpower. The supplies lost in the Battle of Gettysburg ultimately lost the war for the South. I also learned that Confederate General Robert E. Lee was not a good military 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 second day 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 from the Federal army. With an uphill advantage, the Federal troops drove the Confederate army into retreat. On the third day of battle, Lee ordered a charge that would take his army across more than a mile of open field. On the other side of the field, however, Federal troops released a continuous bombardment of artillery as the Confederate troops made their way across.
The Federal army wiped out most of the Confederate troops before they were halfway across the field. By the time the remaining Confederates reached the Federal army their numbers were so small the Federal army had no trouble defeating them. A good commanding general would have seen that both charges were hopeless. In both cases the Federal troops had fortified vantage points, while the Confederate army had no sufficient protection. Had Lee seen this, he would not have ordered the charges. Instead, he was too confident of the ability of his army and his overconfidence led him to defeat.
Before I read The Killer Angels I knew that the Civil War brought many riends to fight against friends and family to fight against family. Until I read The Killer Angels, I never realized that this was true even in the higher ranks. General Hancock of the Federal army and General Armistad of the Confederate were extremely good friends. Before the war they served together in California, but when they war began they parted ways. Throughout the Battle of Gettysburg, both generals were constantly asking for permission to go under flag of truce to the opposing army hoping to see the other.
During the battle both generals were ounded, and they never got another chance to see each other. General Armistad was mortally wounded, and in his dying words he asked a messenger to send his apologies to General Hancock that it had to end the way it did. The Civil War tore families and friends apart, all the way up to the highest military ranks. The Killer Angels was an exceptional book, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in the thoughts and fears of both armies during the Civil War. The Killer Angels was filled with action, suspense and drama, and it is perhaps the most accurate account of the Battle of Gettysburg.