Study Guide

The Killer Angels Part 4, Chapter 2

By Michael Shaara

Part 4, Chapter 2

Longstreet

  • Longstreet and Goree study a map.
  • Longstreet thinks the Confederates could still move south and cut the Yankees off from Washington. He chats with the Prussian observer, while Pickett's men form behind Seminary Ridge.
  • Lee arrives, and Longstreet rides with him. Longstreet tries to convince Lee to withdraw and swing around, but Lee refuses: he says this is where the fight is.
  • Lee explains that he's going to bombard the central point of the Union line with artillery while Pickett's and Longstreet's other generals go in and attack.
  • Longstreet says that this will be a disaster: aside from Pickett's division, half of his troops are out of commission, including the wounded General Hood. Plus, Union cavalry is moving in on Longstreet's flank.
  • Longstreet insists it's a terrible position, but Lee—who looks very weary—has made up his mind.
  • Lee angrily rides off when he hears cannon erupting on Ewell's side. But it turns out Ewell wasn't doing anything wrong—Meade started to attack him there.
  • Longstreet and Lee ride by the Confederate line. They dismount when they realize that the Union soldiers can see them too clearly.
  • Lee stops in a peach orchard to check on Porter Alexander, who will be directing the artillery barrage. The soldiers all express affection for Lee.
  • The soldiers wait around for awhile before Lee finally tells Longstreet that he's going to launch his charge using two of Hill's divisions and one of Pickett's divisions—but Longstreet will be in charge. Armistead will go charging right into Hancock's Corps.
  • Longstreet again respectfully says that he feels this attack will fail, but Lee doesn't want to hear it.
  • Lee settles on using the divisions of Pickett, Pettigrew (who is taking control of Heth's division), and Trimble to attack. Longstreet agrees to do it and rides off, vowing to keep his doubts to himself.
  • Longstreet gives Pickett his orders, and Pickett gets really excited. The officer directing the artillery attack, Alexander, says he'll do his best to wipe out the Yankee guns. Longstreet tells him to wait for the signal and then give everything he has.
  • Sorrel arrives with Generals Pettigrew and Trimble. Longstreet thinks that Pettigrew is the only intellectual in the army—he's written a book. Longstreet asks him about it, and Pettigrew offers a copy.
  • The Generals all confer, Trimble in particular feeling moved by the momentousness of the occasion.
  • Longstreet draws the formation in the ground and answers some minor questions. Pettigrew and Trimble thank Longstreet for the opportunity to prove themselves, and Pickett feels convinced he can take the stone wall where the Yankees are.
  • Longstreet rides over to Armistead but sees he wants to be left alone.
  • Longstreet, Lee, and Pickett all ride out along the line, Lee explaining to Pickett how the attack will proceed. Longstreet says nothing.
  • Looking at the Union line, Longstreet thinks that more than half of the Confederates will die by the time they get over the road in front of the field. More and more will die as they get closer. He doubts they'll even reach the wall.
  • Longstreet tells Pickett that the artillery will fire before the advance begins. It's going to be the greatest concentration of artillery fire in history up to that point.
  • Again, Longstreet feels powerless. He wishes he could resign, but he can't.
  • Fremantle sees Longstreet sitting there and thinks he's extremely calm, almost as if he were falling asleep.

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