Killer Angels The Human Factor In The
American Civil War Essay, Research Paper
Killer Angels Paper
The Human Factor in the American Civil War
Michael Shaara s fictional novel, The Killer Angels, is based on the Battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War. The novel allows the reader to recognize the heart and courage of the more than two million men that fought in the war. Shaara focuses the reader to better understand the reason why these men fight and the meaning of the war. Ultimately, the reader observes that the war is fought on an individual level as much as a governmental level. These men are there to fight for what they believe is truly right. The Confederates fought for their rights to hold slaves, their freedom tyranny of the Federal Government, and their independence from the Union. The Federal soldiers fought for the Preservation of the Union, the freedom of black men, and the Constitution s integrity. In this is book the reader is able to perceive the human element of battle that creates a very unpredictable outcome. Factors of humanity, such as friendships, sense of character, conflicts and brotherhood, play an important part in making the war. The friendship between Confederate General Lewis Armistead and Union General Winfield Scott Hancock has an effect on their fighting. Garnett s sense of honor effects his psychological outlook on the battle and how he is to fight. The Chamberlains are two brothers in the Twentieth Maine of the Union Army. Both men are constantly looking out and worrying about the other. The men of the Second Maine are men who have a conflict with the government that turns them off to the war. All these factors show that American Civil War, in some cases, fought on an individual level as well as for the government.
The friendship between General Armistead and General Hancock affects their attitude towards the fighting. Both become a little weary because they would be fighting each other. General Armistead hopes that his enemy was not his dear old friend, he says But I wish, I wish it was not Hancock atop that hill I wish the war was over. Knowing Hancock is on the other side discourages Armistead from fighting the battle. There is another instance in the text that Armistead is sorry is starting too early with the attack because Hancock may not be set and ready. He then prays to God that General Hancock would be all right. The friendship has caused General Armistead to be disheartened towards the battle. His individual interests are in the way of the war.
Stonewall Jackson at Kernstown accused confederate General Richard Brooke Garnett of cowardice. The Battle of Gettysburg is Garnett s chance to redeem the honor that he has lost. He knows that no one has ever doubted his courage before then, and must get it back. Garnett is too ill to walk so he must ride a horse to get around. On the third day of battle, he is engaged in a conversation with General Armistead. In the conversation that Garnett was ordered not to ride because it make him a perfect target . But Garnett argues well, I tell you, Lo. I can t walk. Armistead becomes speechless because he knows that honor was at stake and Garnett will not let the attack go without him because he still has to prove something. This shows that Garnett is looking out for his own interest and is willing to die to regain his honor even though that it is not in the best interest of the Confederacy.
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Lieutenant Thomas Chamberlain are brothers from the state of Maine. They are both fighting the war because both have yearned to be soldiers. Tom Chamberlain is a distraction to his older brother Lawrence. The Colonel feels that he is responsible for his little brother and his mother is looking to him to bring Thomas back home. At Little Round Top, Lawrence gave Tom the order to get back at rear so that both of them are not at the same place so that both of them will not die at the same time if a situation occurs. Another time Lawrence tells Tom, You stay down, boy. Lawrence knows that he must protect Tom, which is favoritism towards his brother that we would not have for his other men. Colonel Chamberlain is aware that it is not good to have a brother fight you in the war, after seeing Tom come up in smoke with a ripped coat he thought to himself no good to have a brother here. Weakens a man. Lawrence s familiar instinct has caused him to be distracted and not fight the war in complete concentration.
The men of the Second Maine have been fighting in the war for two years, some of the men were allowed to go home while one hundred twenty had to stay and fight. These men signed a contract that they would fight for three years, while the others had ones for a two-year term. The one hundred twenty men that had to stay and fight found it unfair. These men refused to fight the war and were on strike until their grievances were heard out. The individual needs and wants of these men caused them not to fight.
Circumstances like these made the Civil War unique. This is why there has not been a war like it in history. Never before had best friends or even siblings fought a bloody battle on the opposite side of the field. The human elements of the American Civil War means things will never be like this again. Individual interest of men is a very powerful thing that fueled a great war. This is why the Civil War lasted so long and why it was so gruesome and bloody, the men who participated on both sides had fervent beliefs and were willing to fight to the death.