Study Guide

The Killer Angels Part 3, Chapter 6

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Part 3, Chapter 6


  • Lee, still sick and in pain, works all night. He realizes that too many people are around and asks to be alone.
  • Out in the camps, the men are all either asleep or talking quietly. It's after midnight, now July 3—just before Independence Day. Lee thinks it would be ironic if he defeated the Yankees so close to the Fourth of July.
  • Lee walks out by himself, thinking about how Longstreet said they'd broken their vow. He realizes there might be truth to this—but how could he ever have fought against his own people, his family and kin, burning and raiding and destroying? There was never any choice—and, now, he believes, it is all in God's hands.
  • Lee feels he can't retreat, because even if it's not a defeat, he thinks his soldiers will be demoralized if they leave the Yanks in control of the field. Their pride will help them fight.
  • Jeb Stuart arrives; Lee wanted to talk to him alone. Stuart is shocked when Lee tells him that some of the officers want to court-martial him. Lee won't do it, but he says that Stuart failed in his mission to keep the Confederate Army aware of the enemy's movements.
  • Lee can't help but feel pity, and he says that maybe he had not made his orders clear. He refuses to accept Stuart's resignation when Stuart offers it.
  • Stuart leaves, with Lee thinking that he's still a good officer.
  • Venable arrives and tells Lee, politely, that he thinks General Ewell defers too much to General Early. Lee agrees.
  • Ewell, Early, Johnson, and Rodes botched their part of the operation, says Venable. Rodes got stuck in town and didn't attack, and Early attacked late (lol), much later than Longstreet. Johnson did a little—but not much.
  • Lee is irritated and says his generals had better be ready for tomorrow. Venable leaves.
  • Lee feels he can't rely on Ewell or Hill. Only Longstreet is dependable, and he has fresh soldiers from Pickett's division.
  • Lee thinks they'll need to attack in the morning, since he felt so close yesterday. He tries not to think of the men who'll die—but in his view, they'll be rewarded in heaven.
  • Lee thinks the Union's high ground on the flanks has been reinforced, so the Union forces will be weakest in the center. Pickett and Hood and McLaws will all charge into that central line, shattering Meade's army while Stuart's cavalry attacks the retreating line from behind.
  • Lee prays to God. He feels this is the correct course of action and that he's done his best. He sits on the ground, thinking about what heaven and the presence of God will be like when he's dead.
  • Finally, Lee falls asleep.

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