Study Guide

The Killer Angels Part 3, Chapter 3

By Michael Shaara

Part 3, Chapter 3

Longstreet

  • Longstreet is studying a big map. The Confederates have drawn up the Union position, which extends in a fishhook shape from Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill down through Cemetery Ridge. The Union soldiers haven't taken the rocky hills in the south yet.
  • Longstreet goes to Lee. Lee explains that he wants Longstreet to agree with the plan; there's a need for consensus.
  • It's become too hard for Ewell to take Cemetery Hill—the Union presence is large there. Also, Ewell and Early rejected Longstreet's idea about disengaging and cutting the Union off from Washington, to Longstreet's irritation.
  • Instead, Lee says, the Confederates are going to attack from the opposite side of the field from Ewell, capturing Cemetery Hill in reverse. Longstreet will try to go in front of the rocky hills in the south, getting behind and flanking the Union line on Cemetery Ridge.
  • They discuss this with Generals McLaws and Hood, who are also present. McLaws wants to send out skirmishers first, and Hood wants to send a brigade to raid the Union's wagons. Longstreet and Lee nix these ideas.
  • Longstreet asks for food from Sorrel, and then sees the wounded Harry Heth standing nearby with a bandaged head. Lee explains to Heth that he and his troops will be able to rest today.
  • The men disperse, and Hood talks with Longstreet. Hood explains how far his troops have marched, and he and Longstreet address the soldiers' need for water. They part company, Longstreet thinking about what a great soldier Hood is.
  • Longstreet eats some steak Sorrel gives him, and then talks with Captain Johnston, who scouted the area earlier and will lead the Corps into position. Longstreet stresses the element of surprise, while Johnston admits he doesn't know too much about the roads in the area, since Stuart's cavalry isn't around.
  • Longstreet thinks to himself that he would probably court-martial Stuart, although Lee won't.
  • The army starts to march at around noon. Longstreet checks with Hood about water supplies, before he is joined by Lee. The heat reminds Longstreet about the Mexican War, and he and Lee reminisce. They can't feel like the Yankees are total enemies, since so many were their comrades in Mexico.
  • Longstreet mentions the fact that the Confederates did break their vow to the Union, and Lee says there's no question that fighting for their states was the right call.
  • Lee talks about he loves the soldiers. He says it's easy to accept your own death, but it's hard to send men in the army to probable death on the battlefield.
  • Lee surprises Longstreet by admitting that he feels sick and old. He wants this to be the last battle if he can win it.
  • A courier arrives and tells Lee that the Yankees are moving troops up the Rocky Hill (Little Round Top). Lee is confident the Confederates will be able to take it. Apparently worried for Longstreet, he blesses him and leaves.
  • As they march down the road, Longstreet and Johnston realize that this road will take them in full view of the Yankees.
  • Enraged, Longstreet has to move the army in reverse, backtrack, and find a new route.
  • Longstreet gets irritated at Sorrel for bringing so many messages back and forth from Lee. He wants to move at his own pace.
  • The men discover that the Union troops are close by, out in a peach orchard.
  • Hood wants to slip around and attack the Rocky Hill from behind, but Longstreet says Lee wants to attack as planned.
  • Longstreet sees Fremantle and advises him to find a tree from which to observe the battle. He chats with an old man guarding some Mississippi troops' extra baggage.
  • Suddenly, Longstreet gets word from Hood that the Yankees have stopped covering part of the ridge and the Rocky Hill. They're all down in the peach orchard.
  • The Confederates have trouble finding a good place to mount artillery, as Hood insists they go to the right and get behind the Union troops. Longstreet explains that he argued about this with Lee for a long time, but Lee was final.
  • As it gets later in the afternoon, the men realize they need to attack. Longstreet and Hood worry about the Rocky Hill—it looks like the Union is sending troops back up there.
  • Longstreet lets Hood attack while he holds back the other generals under his command, McLaws and Barksdale.
  • The Confederates attack en echelon, which means they do the attack in pieces: they attack in one spot, then in another, and then in another. It helps break up and weaken the enemy troops, preventing them from concentrating in one place.
  • Finally, Longstreet sends Barksdale in, directing him to attack a Union battery. As Barksdale's troops advance, Longstreet rides behind, cheering these Mississippi men onwards.

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