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The Classic Novel of the Civil War

Written by Michael ShaaraAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Michael Shaara


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“My favorite historical novel . . . a superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.”—James M. McPherson
In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Jeff Shaara's Blaze of Glory.



He rode into the dark of the woods and dismounted. He crawled upward on his belly over cool rocks out into the sunlight, and suddenly he was in the open and he could see for miles, and there was the whole vast army below him, filling the valley like a smoking river. It came out of a blue rainstorm in the east and overflowed the narrow valley road, coiling along a stream, narrowing and choking at a white bridge, fading out into the yellowish dust of June but still visible on the farther road beyond the blue hills, spiked with flags and guidons like a great chopped bristly snake, the snake ending headless in a blue wall of summer rain.

The spy tucked himself behind a boulder and began counting flags. Must be twenty thousand men, visible all at once. Two whole Union Corps. He could make out the familiar black hats of the Iron Brigade, troops belonging to John Reynold’s First Corps. He looked at his watch, noted the time. They were coming very fast. The Army of the Potomac had never moved this fast. The day was murderously hot and there was no wind and the dust hung above the army like a yellow veil. He thought: there’ll be some of them die of the heat today. But they are coming faster than they ever came before.

He slipped back down into the cool dark and rode slowly downhill toward the silent empty country to the north. With luck he could make the Southern line before nightfall. After nightfall it would be dangerous. But he must not seem to hurry. The horse was already tired. And yet there was the pressure of that great blue army behind him, building like water behind a cracking dam. He rode out into the open, into the land between the armies.

There were fat Dutch barns, prim German orchards. But there were no cattle in the fields and no horses, and houses everywhere were empty and dark. He was alone in the heat and the silence, and then it began to rain and he rode head down into monstrous lightning. All his life he had been afraid of lightning but he kept riding. He did not know where the Southern headquarters was but he knew it had to be somewhere near Chambersburg. He had smelled out the shape of Lee’s army in all the rumors and bar talk and newspapers and hysteria he had drifted through all over eastern Pennsylvania, and on that day he was perhaps the only man alive who knew the positions of both armies. He carried the knowledge with a hot and lovely pride. Lee would be near Chambersburg, and wherever Lee was Longstreet would not be far away. So finding the headquarters was not the problem. The problem was riding through a picket line in the dark.

The rain grew worse. He could not even move in under a tree because of the lightning. He had to take care not to get lost. He rode quoting Shakespeare from memory, thinking of the picket line ahead somewhere in the dark. The sky opened and poured down on him and he rode on: It will be rain tonight: Let it come down. That was a speech of murderers. He had been an actor once. He had no stature and a small voice and there were no big parts for him until the war came, and now he was the only one who knew how good he was. If only they could see him work, old cold Longstreet and the rest. But everyone hated spies. I come a single spy. Wet single spy. But they come in whole battalions. The rain began to ease off and he spurred the horse to a trot. My kingdom for a horse. Jolly good line. He went on, reciting Henry the Fifth aloud: “Once more into the breech . . .”

Late that afternoon he came to a crossroad and the sign of much cavalry having passed this way a few hours ago. His own way led north to Chambersburg, but he knew that Longstreet would have to know who these people were so close to his line. He debated a moment at the crossroads, knowing there was no time. A delay would cost him daylight. Yet he was a man of pride and the tracks drew him. Perhaps it was only Jeb Stuart. The spy thought hopefully, wistfully: If it’s Stuart I can ask for an armed escort all the way home. He turned and followed the tracks. After a while he saw a farmhouse and a man standing out in a field, in a peach orchard, and he spurred that way. The man was small and bald with huge round arms and spoke very bad English. The spy went into his act: a simple-minded farmer seeking a runaway wife, terrified of soldiers. The bald man regarded him sweatily, disgustedly, told him the soldiers just gone by were “plu” soldiers, Yankees. The spy asked: What town lies yonder? and the farmer told him Gettysburg, but the name meant nothing. The spy turned and spurred back to the crossroads. Yankee cavalry meant John Buford’s column. Moving lickety-split. Where was Stuart? No escort now. He rode back again toward the blue hills. But the horse could not be pushed. He had to dismount and walk.

That was the last sign of Yankees. He was moving up across South Mountain; he was almost home. Beyond South Mountain was Lee and, of course, Longstreet. A strange friendship: grim and gambling Longstreet, formal and pious old Bobby Lee. The spy wondered at it, and then the rain began again, bringing more lightning but at least some cooler air, and he tucked himself in under his hat and went back to Hamlet. Old Jackson was dead. Good night, sweet Prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest . . .

He rode into darkness. No longer any need to hurry. He left the roadway at last and moved out in to a field away from the lightning and the trees and sat in the rain to eat a lonely supper, trying to make up his mind whether it was worth the risk of going on. He was very close; he could begin to feel them up ahead. There was no way of knowing when or where, but suddenly they would be there in the road, stepping phantomlike out of the trees wearing those sick eerie smiles, and other men with guns would suddenly appear all around him, prodding him in the back with hard steel barrels, as you prod an animal, and he would have to be lucky, because few men rode out at night on good and honest business, not now, this night, in this invaded country.

He rode slowly up the road, not really thinking, just moving, reluctant to stop. He was weary. Fragments of Hamlet flickered in his brain: If it be not now, yet it will come. Ripeness is all. Now there’s a good part. A town ahead. A few lights. And then he struck the picket line.

There was a presence in the road, a liquid Southern voice. He saw them outlined in lightning, black ragged figures rising around him. A sudden lantern poured yellow light. He saw one bleak hawkish grinning face; hurriedly he mentioned Longstreet’s name. With some you postured and with some you groveled and with some you were imperious. But you could do that only by daylight, when you could see the faces and gauge the reaction. And now he was too tired and cold. He sat and shuddered: an insignificant man on a pale and muddy horse. He turned out to be lucky. There was a patient sergeant with a long gray beard who put him under guard and sent him along up the dark road to Longstreet’s headquarters.

He was not safe even now, but he could begin to relax. He rode up the long road between picket fires, and he could hear them singing in the rain, chasing each other in the dark of the trees. A fat and happy army, roasting meat and fresh bread, telling stories in the dark. He began to fall asleep on the horse; he was home. But they did not like to see him sleep, and one of them woke him up to remind him, cheerily, that if there was no one up there who knew him, why, then, unfortunately, they’d have to hang him, and the soldier said it just to see the look on his face, and the spy shivered, wondering, Why do there have to be men like that, men who enjoy another man’s dying?

Longstreet was not asleep. He lay on the cot watching the lightning flare in the door of the tent. It was very quiet in the grove and there was the sound of the raindrops continuing to fall from the trees although the rain had ended. When Sorrel touched him on the arm he was glad of it; he was thinking of his dead children.

“Sir? You asked to be awakened if Harrison came back.”

“Yes.” Longstreet got up quickly and put on the old blue robe and the carpet slippers. He was a very big man and he was full-bearded and wild-haired. He thought of the last time he’d seen the spy, back in Virginia, tiny man with a face like a weasel: “And where will your headquarters be, General, up there in Pennsylvania? ’Tis a big state indeed.” Him standing there with cold gold clutched in a dirty hand. And Longstreet had said icily, cheerily, “It will be where it will be. If you cannot find the headquarters of this whole army you cannot be much of a spy.” And the spy had said stiffly, “Scout, sir. I am a scout. And I am a patriot, sir.” Longstreet had grinned. We are all patriots. He stepped out into the light. He did not know what to expect. He had not really expected the spy to come back at all.

The little man was there: a soggy spectacle on a pale and spattered horse. He sat grinning wanly from under the floppy brim of a soaked and dripping hat. Lightning flared behind him; he touched his cap.

“Your servant, General. May I come down?”

Longstreet nodded. The guard backed off. Longstreet told Sorrel to get some coffee. The spy slithered down from the horse and stood grinning foolishly, shivering, mouth slack with fatigue.

“Well, sir”—the spy chuckled, teeth chattering—“you see, I was able to find you after all.”

Longstreet sat at the camp table on a wet seat, extracted a cigar, lighted it. The spy sat floppily, mouth still open, breathing deeply.

“It has been a long day. I’ve ridden hard all this day.”

“What have you got?”

“I came through the pickets at night, you know. That can be very touchy.”

Longstreet nodded. He watched, he waited. Sorrel came with steaming coffee; the cup burned Longstreet’s fingers. Sorrel sat, gazing curiously, distastefully at the spy.

The spy guzzled, then sniffed Longstreet’s fragrant smoke. Wistfully: “I say, General, I don’t suppose you’ve got another of those? Good Southern tobacco?”

“Directly,” Longstreet said. “What have you got?”

“I’ve got the position of the Union Army.”

Longstreet nodded, showing nothing. He had not known the Union Army was on the move, was within two hundred miles, was even this side of the Potomac, but he nodded and said nothing. The spy asked for a map and began pointing out the positions of the corps.

“They’re coming in seven corps. I figure at least eighty thousand men, possibly as much as a hundred thousand. When they’re all together they’ll outnumber you, but they’re not as strong as they were; the two-year enlistments are running out. The First Corps is here. The Eleventh is right behind it. John Reynolds is in command of the lead elements. I saw him at Taneytown this morning.”

“Reynolds,” Longstreet said.

“Yes, sir.”

“You saw him yourself?”

The spy grinned, nodded, rubbed his nose, chuckled. “So close I could touch him. It was Reynolds all right.”

“This morning. At Taneytown.”

“Exactly. You didn’t know any of that, now did you, General?” The spy bobbed his head with delight. “You didn’t even know they was on the move, did ye? I thought not. You wouldn’t be spread out so thin if you knowed they was comin’.”

Longstreet looked at Sorrel. The aide shrugged silently. If this was true, there would have been some word. Longstreet’s mind moved over it slowly. He said: “How did you know we were spread out?”

“I smelled it out.” The spy grinned, foxlike, toothy. “Listen, General, I’m good at this business.”

“Tell me what you know of our position.”

“Well, now I can’t be too exact on this, ’cause I aint scouted you myself, but I gather that you’re spread from York up to Harrisburg and then back to Chambersburg, with the main body around Chambersburg and General Lee just ’round the bend.”

It was exact. Longstreet thought: if this one knows it, they will know it. He said slowly, “We’ve had no word of Union movement.”

The spy bobbed with joy. “I knew it. Thass why I hurried. Came through that picket line in the dark and all. I don’t know if you realize, General—”

Sorrel said coldly, “Sir, don’t you think, if this man’s story was true, that we would have heard something?”

From the Hardcover edition.
Michael Shaara

About Michael Shaara

Michael Shaara - The Killer Angels
Michael Shaara was born in Jersey City in 1929 and graduated from Rutgers University in 1951. His early science fiction short stories were published in Galaxy magazine in 1952. He later began writing other works of fiction and published more than seventy short stories in many magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan, and Redbook. His first novel, The Broken Place, was published in 1968. But it was a simple family vacation to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1966 that gave him the inspiration for his greatest achievement, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Killer Angels, published in 1974. Michael Shaara went on to write two more novels, The Noah Conspiracy and For Love of the Game, which was published posthumously after his death in 1988.


“My favorite historical novel . . . a superb re-creation of the Battle of Gettysburg, but its real importance is its insight into what the war was about, and what it meant.”—James M. McPherson

“Remarkable . . . a book that changed my life . . . I had never visited Gettysburg, knew almost nothing about that battle before I read the book, but here it all came alive.”—Ken Burns

“Utterly absorbing . . . Shaara fabulously, convincingly brings characters such as Robert E. Lee to life and makes the conflict all too real.”—Forbes
“Shaara carries [the reader] swiftly and dramatically to a climax as exciting as if it were being heard for the first time.”—The Seattle Times

Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide


Introduction/Plot Summary
In The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara recapitulates the Battle of Gettysburg. Rather than inventing characters through which to illumine his own perspective of the event, he attempts to recreate events during and leading up to the battle and to reconstruct the actions of several generals who participated.

Acclaim and a Pulitzer Prize followed publication of the book in 1974, yet the book had its critics--some who wished the author had employed more imagination in the plot and characters instead of sticking so religiously to the moment-by-moment occurrences; while others would have preferred not to see the history tainted at all by fiction-writing techniques.

Though the author claims some poetic license in the language the soldiers use, and though he asserts that "the interpretation of character is my own," no one could refute Shaara's adherence to the basic facts. Readers who are not Civil War buffs might be amazed that, for example, the colorful last-ditch bayonet charge by the 20th Maine Regiment at Little Round Top--which reads like a scriptwriter's dream--actually took place. In The American Iliad, Confederated Colonel William C. Oates recalled the bravery and skill of the 20th Maine and Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain. One of Chamberlain's men, Theodore Gerrish, described the fight: "Our regiment mustered about 350 men....Imagine, if you can, 300 men on the extreme flank of an army, put there to hold the key of the entire position! Stand firm, ye boys of Maine, for not once in a century are men permitted to bear such responsibilities!"

The book is divided into four major sections: Monday, June 29, 1863 (which actually covers events up to dawn of Wednesday, July 1); Wednesday, July 1, 1863: The First Day; Thursday, July 2, 1863: The Second Day; and Friday, July 3, 1863; plus a foreword describing the two armies that will meet at Gettysburg and some of the key individuals who will be dealt with in The Killer Angels, and an afterword that summarizes the lives of some of the survivors of Gettysburg. Within the four main sections, the narrative alternates between the vantage points of Union and Rebel soldiers. Maps by Don Pitcher illustrate the strategic positions of the two armies throughout the days of the encounter.

Monday, June 29, 1863
Harrison, a spy for the Army of Northern Virginia, reports to its commander, General Robert E. Lee and his right-hand man, Lt. General James Longstreet, that 80,000 to 100,000 Union soldiers have marched within 200 miles of Lee's position near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. This information surprises both generals, whose troops had invaded the North, and who would now be outnumbered by these Union forces. They also expected such crucial news to come sooner from J.E.B. Stuart, the cavalry officer assigned to scout and send word to Lee.

Harrison also bears news of a change in Union leadership: Major General George Meade had replaced "Fighting Joe" Hooker as commander of the Union Army. Lee sees this change as an opportunity to strike while the new commander gets his bearings. He decides to concentrate on Gettysburg, the small town where several roads in the area converge, where he intends to cut the Union army off from Washington, D.C.

Buster Kilrain of the 20th Regiment of Infantry, Maine Volunteers, informs Colonel Chamberlain that 120 mutineers are being sent to his command. These men, says Kilrain, have refused to fight for any regiment other than the Second Maine, their original outfit, which has been disbanded. The Union's new commander, General Meade, has authorized Chamberlain to shoot any man who won't fight. Chamberlain, a college professor in his civilian life, uses compassion and persuasion instead of threats to convince all but six of the men to join in the fight: a historic one, he tells them, in which the object is not to protect their land but to preserve freedom.

Spotting Lee's army as it turns toward Gettysburg, Major General John Buford moves his men into the town first, stations them on high ground along Seminary Ridge, and sends word to Major General John Reynolds.

Wednesday, July 1, 1863--The First Day
First shots are fired at dawn as Rebels attack Buford's dismounted cavalry. Reynolds rides in with sorely need infantry reinforcements and sends messages to other commanders to report to Gettysburg. Moments later, Reynolds is dead.

Lee encounters one weak link after another: First, there is Powell Hill's bout with illness that day, then Harry Heth's confusion about who he was attacking--the "few militia men" turned out to be Buford's and Reynolds' combined troops. But, buoyed by reports that Generals Rodes and Early are attacking the Union army, Lee sends Heth and Pender in to support them.

News of a Union retreat prompts Lee to order General Ewell to take the hill just south of Gettysburg. He and Longstreet disagree on strategy: Longstreet recommends that Rebel forces take a defensive stance on high ground, forcing Union troops out into the open, while Lee wants the Rebels to press forward now that they are already on the attack.

During his postmortem of the day's events, Lee receives disturbing reports from his generals. Ewell did not follow Lee's attack order, and Union men took charge of Cemetery Hill. One of Ewell's aides, Trimble tells Lee angrily that he had volunteered to lead men up to capture the hill, but Ewell had refused to allow it. Ewell had apparently frozen, and allowed Early to do his decision making.

About two a.m. Thursday, Buford rides to Cemetery Hill to get orders from a commanding officer following the death of Reynolds. General Winfield Hancock, who carried orders from General Meade, tells him to get his men refitted for battle in the morning.

Thursday, July 2, 1863--The Second Day
In the morning, Chamberlain and Kilrain aid a wounded civilian, who is black. This encounter leads Chamberlain to examine his own feels about people of African descent and about the reasons for this war.

Lee resumes his discussion of tactics with Longstreet. Overruling Longstreet's recommendations, Lee has decided to attack the Union troops who have fortified their positions in the hills. He instructs Longstreet to take Century Hill. Relieved that the decision is finally made, Longstreet prepares for the fight. As they ride toward the enemy Lee and Longstreet ruminate over their internal conflicts--challenging men they had formerly commanded, attacking their own countrymen, and Lee's struggle with a heart condition while Longstreet is tortured by the ghosts of his dead children.

Because of their unfamiliarity with the area, 17,000 Southerners--the two divisions under Longstreet's command--are forced to double back and change directions to avoid marching in plain sight of the enemies in the hills. Ironically, a scout reports that the Union soldiers thought to be lining the ridge are actually on level ground in the peach orchard just ahead. Though Lee's order to attack en echelon seems suicidal at this point and though Longstreet's subordinates advise against it, as Longstreet himself had advised Lee, Longstreet follows orders.

Late in the afternoon, Colonel Chamberlain's 20th Maine regiment is moved into the woods. Colonel Vincent orders Chamberlain not to withdraw from his new position at the left flank of the Union line. "You must defend this place to the last," he is told.

The Rebels engage one regiment after another, and Chamberlain and the 20th Maine anticipate their advance--not only with fear but with joy--for the new opportunity to confront the enemy face to face. As the Rebels rush the low stone wall constructed hastily by Union troops, men fall fast--from wounds that cripple or disfigure and for the dead, no time for goodbyes.

Chamberlain draws quick comfort from seeing his brother Tom alive and well after the first skirmish, but too many others have been hurt, Kilrain among them. Moments later, Chamberlain takes a blast in the side, but collects his thoughts enough to give new orders to the men. As the line of men thins the remaining soldiers spread out to "plug the holes" in defense of the hill. Ammunition runs low, but Chamberlain understands the necessity of holding the ground--even after hearing that Vincent, the man who gave him the order, is dead.

"Fix bayonets! Charge!" he shouts, and as his regiment rushes downhill the surprised Rebels run down the valley, some stopping to surrender.

With 130 men in the 20th dead or injured, the regiment is at half its strength. Tom Chamberlain boasts that they took 500 prisoners. Having successfully defended Little Round Top, the men are ordered to report to Big Round Top.

Longstreet hears from Goree that Longstreet, not Lee, is being blamed for the defeat at Little round Top. After a report that some 8,000 men are down, he is heartened by the arrival of General Pickett and his 5,000 troops. Despite Confederate losses, as well as the three Union corps established in the hills, Longstreet sees a weak spot in the Union lines.

Longstreet returns to Lee's headquarters from the battlefield as a culprit to some soldiers and a hero to Fremantle, an observer from England, who congratulates him on his victory. Fremantle marvels at Lee's deviousness and superior strategies; Longstreet rails over the miracles that keep their army alive. Lee thinks of the fight as a close one, even as Longstreet mourns the loss of one-third to one-half of their fighting forces.

The arrival of Jeb Stuart, after his failure to scout the Union position, prompts other generals to demand his court-martial. Early Friday morning, Lee works on a plan for his troops, even as he suffers from chest pain. After reprimanding Stuart for his unfulfilled mission, Lee hears of "confusion" in General Ewell's camp--and attack orders from Lee that were not carried out.

Lee decides to strike the Union forces the next day. Since the Union had been hit on both sides and would be reinforced there, he would send Pickett and his men straight to the center where they would be weakest.

Friday, July 3, 1863
High up on Big Round Top, ensconced behind the stone wall they had built during the night, Chamberlain's regiment forms the end of the Union line. At dawn, a battle had started in the north, and Chamberlain, whose men need food, water, rest, and ammunition, feels relieved that the fighting was somewhere else. Expecting them to have to fight until they fall, he is surprised to hear that replacements are on the way, and that his men have been reassigned to what appears to be the safest spot on the battlefield--the center of the line.

When Lee orders Longstreet to send men up the hill to attack the Union center, Longstreet advises against it: From the hill, Union soldiers could spot the Rebel's every move, and could also be reinforced from behind the hills, without being seen from the low ground. "They will break," Lee insists. He directed Longstreet to take three divisions--a total of 15,000 fighters--to capture the hill, to march upward to a clump of trees at the center of the ridge. Lee estimates Union strength at the center to be no greater than 5,000 men.

Longstreet passes the order along to his generals--Pickett, Pettigrew, and Trimble.

General Sykes tells Chamberlain that he'll recommend him for a promotion to Brigade commander, as a result of the bayonet charge. Still bleeding from his morning injuries, hungry, and saddened by news of his friend Kilrain's death, Chamberlain finds himself a sudden target of enemy fire, and, amazingly, falls asleep.

On the Confederate side, Brigadier General Lo Armistead agonizes over the actions he's about to take: In attacking the hill, he will break a vow made to his friend Win Hancock, not to lift a hand against him. Hancock is at the top of the hill, commanding Union forces. After reaching the wall and climbing over to the Union side, Armistead is hit, and as he dies, learns that Hancock has been hit as well.

Pickett and other commanders lose most of their men in the battle. As the survivors pull back, Lee finally admits his error to Longstreet, who gives his order to retreat.

A Footnote: Honor Versus Victory

As Fremantle and Longstreet discuss the situation of Richard Garnett, who feels he must die in order to clear his name of Stonewall Jackson's accusation of cowardice, Fremantle brings up "Solferino" and "Charge of the Light Brigade." Though Fremantle considers them examples of bravery in the face of certain death, the references foreshadow events at Gettysburg. In a war for Italian independence, the 1859 Battle of Solferino was unexpected: Neither side knew the exact position of the other troops. Such heavy losses resulted (29,000 killed or wounded, 4,000 missing or captured) that the battle led to the establishment of the International Red Cross.

"Charge of the Light Brigade," the poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, immortalizes the British cavalry attack on the Russian position at Balaklava during the Crimean War. Confused orders led to the British cavalry's sweep into a valley--right into the midst of Russian artillery and cavalry. Forty percent of the Light Brigade dies in that attack.

At Gettysburg--where Lee's orders were not always followed; where the Confederacy did not know the exact position of Union forces; where Maine men on a hillside fire upon company after company of "Gray-green-yellow uniforms rolling up in a mass...., dissolving in smoke and thunder,"--the casualties for the three-day conflict escalated to 23,000 for the Union, 28,000 for the Confederacy.


For Discussion/Comprehension

Why does General Longstreet doubt his own spy's report of the Union Army's advance toward Confederate troops in Pennsylvania?

2. As John Buford tracks the Confederate Army, he stops to wave at a Rebel officer. Why would he greet an enemy in this way?

3. How could Armistead and Hancock, on opposite sides of the fight, become close friends?

4. What was Fremantle's purpose in traveling with Longstreet and the Confederate army?

5. Why did officers under Lee want J.E.B. Stuart courtmartialed?

6. Why does Trimble thank Longstreet for an assignment that could very likely hasten Trimble's own death?


1. Throughout The Killer Angels, Arthur Fremantle expresses admiration for the Confederacy and its similarities to England: its officers, the style of fighting, Southern cuisine and culture. The one point he takes exception to is the Southerners' support of slavery. Had Fremantle traveled with Meade and Chamberlain instead of Lee and Longstreet, how might he have written about the Union Army? Step into Fremantle's shoes, as a writer from another country, choose a side (North or South) to attach yourself to, and set forth your own perspective of the events. Points to deal with might include battle tactics, causes of the war, contrasts or compatibilities between your nation's culture and that of the army you are traveling with, and the outcome of the war you predict based on your observations and interviews.

2. Two philosophies on leadership emerge from the following quotes in The Killer Angels:

Chamberlain (remember the teachings of "old Ames"): "Two things an officer must do, to lead men....'You must care for your men's welfare. You must show physical courage.'"

Lee: "To be a good soldier, you must love the army. But to be a good officer you must be willing to order the death of the thing you love." How do the actions of officers in this novel reflect one or both of these ingredients of leadership? What strengths emerged when either of these philosophies were employed? What weaknesses were revealed?



The plethora of terms associated with warfare may seem overwhelming to some members of a general reading audience. These descriptions and distinctions could help:

·Cavalry--troops trained to fight on horseback

·Artillery--troops armed with large-caliber firing weapons

·Infantry--units of army trained to fight on foot

·Battalion--a headquarters company with four infantry companies

·Regiment--a unit of ground troops containing two or more battalions

·Brigade--two or more regiments led by a brigadier general and auxiliary service troops led by a lieutenant general

·Volley--a discharge of several missiles all at once

·Flank--the left or right side of a military formation

·Echelon--troops formed in parallel units arranged to the left or right of the rear unit like stairsteps

·Bayonet--knife fitted into the muzzle end of the rifle

·Caisson--a large box or horse-drawn vehicle used for holding ammunition

·Napoleon--a type of cannon named for the French emperor

·Taps--bugle call to signal "lights out" or played at military funerals


Missing in Action

While The Killer Angels discusses slavery and its causal role in the war, the one African in the saga makes a cameo appearance--though wounded, he is not a soldier, and his history and future are obscure. Female characters stay clear of the battle sites; they are objects of the fighting men's admiration, gratitude, or dreams. The single reference to Native Americans has to do with a joke about cigar smoke and fat men. The focus here is on male citizens of European descent.

Readers might be encouraged to flesh out this skeletal picture of Civil War participation. The following sources point to the cultural diversity of fighters, nurses, spies, and spouses: The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union (James M. McPherson, New York: Ballantine Books, 1991); Afro-Americans in the Civil War: From Slavery to Citizenship (Charles Harris Wesley and Patricia W. Romera, Publisher's Agency, 1976); Marching Toward Freedom: Blacks in the Civil War, 1861-1865 (James M. McPherson, New York: Facts on File, 1991): Undying Glory, the Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment (New York: Scholastic Inc., 1991); Patriots in Disguise: Women Warriors of the Civil War. First Edition (Richard Hall, New York: Paragon House, 1993); A Separate Battle: Women and the Civil War (Ina Chang, New York: Lodestar Books, 1991); The American Indian as Participant in the Civil War(Annie Heloise Abel, St. Clair Shores, MI: Scholarly Press, 1972

Additional Resources

For photos of Longstreet, Ewell, Lee, Stuart, Meade, artists' renderings of Gettysburg battle scenes, plus more maps of principal military campaigns and positions, see A Battlefield Atlas of the Civil War (Annapolis, MD: Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1983).

The Civil War Library and Museum in Philadelphia, PA (1805 Pine Street, 215-735-8196) has 15,000 volumes, manuscripts, and exhibits on the Civil War.

For further reading:

Bakeless, John, Spies of the Confederacy. Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1970.

Blight, David W., Frederick Douglass' Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.

Book Review Digest, 1974. "Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels."

Brown, William Wells, The Negro in the American Rebellion. New York: Citadel Press, 1971.

Coggins, Jack, Arms and Equipment of the Civil War, First Edition (illustrated by the author). Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1962.

Eisenschiml, Otto and Ralph Newman, The American Iliad: The Epic Story of the Civil War as Narrated by Eyewitnesses and Contemporaries. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill, Co., 1947.

Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative: Red River to Appomatoox. New York: Vintage Books, 1974.

Griffith, Paddy, Battle Tactics of the Civil War. New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1989.

Johnson, Neil, The Battle of Gettysburg, First Edition. New York: Four Winds Press, 1989.

McPherson, James M., Battle Cry of Freedom. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.

Murphy, Jim, The Long Road to Gettysburg. New York: Clarion Books, 1992.

Nevins, Allan, The War for the Union: Volume III, The Organized War 1863-1864. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1971.

Pfanz, Harry W., Gettysburg: the Second Day. Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 1987

Quarles, Benjamin, The Negro in the Civil War, New York: Da Capo Press, 1989.

Stampp, Kenneth M., editor, The Causes of the Civil War, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1965.

Stucky, W.J., The Pulitzer Prize Novels: A Critical Backward Look. Second Edition. Norman, OK: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1981.


Teacher's Guide by Alice Jones-Miller. Jones-Miller is an editor, writer and publisher in Westchester County, New York.

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