Study Guide

The Killer Angels Part 2, Chapter 5

By Michael Shaara

Part 2, Chapter 5

Longstreet

  • Longstreet rides through the wreckage of the battle, seeing piles of amputated arms and legs and lots of dead horses. He senses that disaster will fall the following day, and he feels depressed at Lee's determination to attack. Longstreet feels he can see the situation clearly, but he can't do anything about it.
  • Longstreet remembers the horror of losing three children all in one winter to fever. He couldn't understand why God would do this.
  • Tearful with grief, Longstreet decides to change his thoughts by chatting with Fremantle.
  • Fremantle's been enjoying himself: he's been in the South since sneaking over the Mexican border, and he's been impressed by the roughness of the people as well as their traces of English manners.
  • Fremantle says he liked watching the battle today, though he wishes the soldiers would use a certain English tactic called the hollow square.
  • Fremantle's been very impressed by the Confederates. He praises General Lee for being essentially an English gentleman, a moralist, and a member of the Church of England. Fremantle thought Americans were all going to be backwoods hicks.
  • Fremantle and Longstreet discuss the lack of drinking among generals like Lee and Stuart, though Fremantle himself has a bottle of brandy on him they might break into later.
  • Longstreet says that the men were discussing the new Theory of Evolution earlier, and they agreed that humans must be descended from apes. The only one who disagreed was General Lee.
  • Longstreet also discusses the now deceased Stonewall Jackson, whose intense Christianity was coupled with a fierce hatred of the Union Cause.
  • Longstreet mentions Jackson's eccentricities, praises A. P. Hill and Pickett as fighters, and talks about how A. P. Hill and Garnett were court-martialed by Jackson. Hill even challenged Longstreet to a duel once.
  • Longstreet starts to change the subject, shocking Fremantle by saying that honor can't win wars. According to him, you can't just charge bravely into certain death; there's more to war than that.
  • Longstreet explains how tactics have changed, but Fremantle doesn't really get it. Longer ranges on rifles and more effective rifles have made it less sensible to just charge headlong into armies. A guy standing behind a tree with a rifle will automatically kill two out of three men who try to attack him.
  • People aren't receptive to Longstreet's defensive ideas, and Fremantle thinks futile charges are glorious.
  • Longstreet stays up late that night, talking around the fire, avoiding memories of his dead children.

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