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MonkeyNotes-The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
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LEE (Chapter 6 of Part III)

The Decision To Attack

Working late, Lee considers whether to take Longstreet’s advise and withdraw to better ground or to attack the current Union line. He remembers the day of succession and how he had to choose his duty to his family and Virginia over his duty to his country.

His thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Stuart, whom he had summoned. He informs Stuart that some would like to see the cavalier court-martialed and that, as cavalry commander, he failed the army. Stuart takes the reproach to heart and offers his resignation dramatically, but Lee insists that he will be needed tomorrow.

As Stuart leaves Lee, Venable approaches and reports on the situation in Ewell’s camp. Apparently General Ewell defers too much to General Early and is excessively hesitant. Lee decides that he cannot depend on the uncertain Ewell, nor on the sickly Hill. Dependable Longstreet and Pickett’s fresh troops are the only option. Lee decides to throw Longstreet and Pickett at the Union line’s center with all the artillery they’ve got. Secure in his knowledge that this is what God wants, Lee finally drifts off to sleep.


STYLE

Historical Irony:

" ‘Wouldn’t it be ironic...if we should gain our independence from them on their own Independence Day?’ " (p.262)

Simile & Lee vs. Longstreet (Health):

"He [Lee] moved as if his body was filled with cold cement that was slowly hardening." (p.262)

"He [Lee] meditated a moment, weariness flowing through him like a bleak slow wind." (p.268)

Metaphor & Union vs. Confederacy:

"Supplies will come to them in rivers..." (p.264)

Major Theme

Lee vs. Longstreet

Lee and Longstreet contrast in their: view of God, strategy, answer to Stuart’s irresponsibility, and opinion on whether passion or numbers win battles.

God

"He [Lee] thought himself too dull to read God’s plan...a servant only." (p.262)

Strategy

"He [Lee] saw that in his minds eye: his boy’s backing off, pulling out, looking up in wonder and rage at the Yankee troops still in possession of the high ground...I never saw soldier fight well after a retreat." (p.264)

"The decision was clear. It had been there in the back of his mind all that night, as he worked, remembering every moment the sight of his blue Virginia flags going up that long slope to the top, almost to victory, so close he could feel the world over there begin to give like a rotten brick wall. He could not retreat now. It might be the clever thing to do, but cleverness did not win victories; the bright combinations rarely worked. You won because the men thought they would win." (p.268)

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