The Killer Angels

The Killer Angels – By: Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels confesses the representation and historical facts of the Battle at Gettysburg. The greatest battle of the American Civil War was fought by the Confederate Army and the Union Army. This one battle held monumental inspiration and influence on the American people. This story embraces the whole American culture and its everlasting dream of independence. The skills and values embraced by the soldiers of the Battle at Gettysburg still remain in the American society. The Battle at Gettysburg continues to instill in Americans the reminder that we are where we are now because of what we have gone through.

There were many fine men that played a very significant role in the Civil War, but Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain stood out to in this prominent story. Chamberlain is the chief and prominent voice of the Union Army. Taking into consideration that Chamberlain is a much lower rank he brings a fresh perspective of the war. Chamberlain was different and compelling compared to other men of the war. Chamberlain did not follow the beat of the drum, but lead his men to the beat of his own drum. He started out as an ordinary professor and became an extraordinary soldier. He was one to commemorate and celebrate.

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain seems to grasp the importance of the battle at Gettysburg long before he is even near the battlefield (Shaara 33). He was the mind of the average American citizen. Also, his faith in the “dignity of man” and America was stronger than that of his “faith in God” (Shaara 29). Chamberlain was strong willed and prosperous. This duality of faith is reflected in his “preaching” to the 2nd Maine mutineers (Shaara 33). His “preaching” is presented more in natural and philosophic terms than in those of overt spiritual overtones, but is nonetheless inspiring to the men (Shaara 34). Chamberlain proves to be a strong leader as he rises up to be a leader in the Union Army. He did not have any military background and was still able to become a highly admired and appreciated Union officer.

Chamberlain provides an insight to the nation’s conflict of black freedom. Chamberlain believed blacks deserved freedom while others extremely disagreed. While Chamberlain was fighting for freedom and liberty, other officers were not. He was different from most soldiers and stood out being a highly educated and chivalrous man. Chamberlain provides us with a civilian perspective to the war and the everyday life of a soldier. Chamberlain is not a general, he is only a colonel. While generals have the luxury of hanging out, drinking and eating well; Chamberlain has to deal with certain concerns for his soldiers and maintaining the marching speed. Also dealing with the burden of all of his friends including his brother serving under him.

As a reader you are really able to see Chamberlain’s caring side when Private Kilrain brings an escaped slave to Chamberlain’s attention. Although, Chamberlain cannot bring the slave along with the troops he still tends to the slave. Chamberlain gives the slave food and helps him with his wounds. You can really see Chamberlain’s gentleness in this encounter. Chamberlains attempts to point the slave in the right direction for his hard and long journey ahead. Chamberlain strongly believed that black men were no different from white men, and both men are equal. He felt strong about the issue and was really angered by those who felt black men were not human. Chamberlains motivation really sparked after meeting with the black man, he realized again why he and his men were fighting the Confederacy, but he was unsure if it was worth the lives lost.

Chamberlain proves himself when he leads the fight on Little Round Top, which was one of the most significant and legendary battle of the Civil War. Chamberlain was ordered by his commanding officer, Colonel Vincent to defend the left rank of Union Army and to never retreat, his regiment was the end of the line. This command was crucial and could make or break the Union Army. Chamberlain had a lot on his shoulders, but the soldier that he had become pulled through with flying colors. Chamberlain was an exceptional leader all while under the pressure of a life or death situation. He was able to watch out for the movement of the enemy while attending to one of his fellow soldiers being shot and being shot at himself. Chamberlain was able to scheme a strategy that would defeat the Confederate Army while stressing the safety of his brother, having lost 100 men including his commanding officer Vincent and running low on ammunition. Chamberlain’s awareness and perseverance was worthy of honorable mention. Chamberlain’s new commanding officer, Colonel Rice was impressed. Chamberlain was still standing at the top of the Little Round Top.

Chamberlains views on the war and extreme belief in what he was fighting for him made him a strong leader. He knew why he went to war and why he was fighting. He may not have agreed with others but, his faith and strong will to fight for what was right encourage his followers and reinforced their reasoning to fight and be there. He instilled encouragement and readiness to fight. He lifted their spirits and kept them carrying on throughout the tough times. Chamberlain was a role model to his soldiers.

“It was my privilege to be here today, he thanked God for the honor- then he went back to his men” –Chamberlain (Shaara pg. 344). Chamberlain became one of the most remarkable soldiers in American history (Shaara pg. 354). Chamberlain was eventually promoted to Brigadier General for heroism. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his battle at Little Round Top. Chamberlain was elected Governor in Maine and elected President of Bowdoin College. He also received a medal of honor from France for his efforts in international education. June of 1914 at the age of 83 Chamberlain passed away a hero and an inspirational man.

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