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MonkeyNotes-The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
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Major THEME

Lee vs. Longstreet (Decision for Pickett’s Charge)

"The move to the South was still possible; the road to Washington was still open." (p.284)

Longstreet said again, "Sir, I’ve discovered a way south that seems promising. If we would move--"

"General, the enemy is there--" Lee lifted his arm, pointed up the ridge in a massive gesture--"and there’s where I’m going to strike him... The situation is basically unchanged. But you have Pickett now and he is fresh. I want you to move your corps forward and take those heights, in the center, and split the Union line... I have sent word to Ewell. He is to attack when you do, keeping the enemy pinned on that flank. Yours will be the main effort. Hill will be the reserve. You will have all our artillery proceeding you, fixed on that one point. A pont au feu."...

"Sir. My two divisions, Hood and McLaws, lost almost half their strength yesterday. Do you expect me to attack again that same high ground which they could not take yesterday at full strength? With so many officers lost? Including Sam Hood?... There are now three Union corps on those rocky hills, on our flank. If I move my people forward we’ll have no flank at all; they’ll simply swing around and crush us. There are thirty thousand men on those heights to our right. Calvary is moving out on my flank now. If I move Hood and McLaws, the whole rear of this army is open... It is my consideration that a frontal assault here would be a disaster... They are well entrenched, they mean to fight. They have good artillery and plenty of it. Any attack will be uphill over open ground. General, this is a bad position. Have you ever seen a worse position? Here we are in a long line, spread all around them, a line five miles long. How can we coordinate an attack? They’re massed all together, damn near in a circle. Anywhere we hit them they can bring up reinforcements in a matter of minutes. And they can move up reinforcement behind those hills, out of sight of our cannon. But if we try to move in support it has to come from miles off, and their cannon can see every move. Hell, their cannon are looking down at us right now. General Lee, sir, this is not a good position." (p.286)


"I wish we could take the hill. Could flood right on over it and end the war, wipe them all away in one great motion. But we can’t No matter how much I wish...or trust God..." (p.290)

"He [Longstreet] could begin to see it. When the troops came out of the woods the artillery would open up...If they reached the wall without breaking, there would not be many left. It was a mathematical equation." (p.296)

"Well, we have left nothing undone. It is all in the hands of God."

Longstreet thought: it isn’t God that is sending those men up that hill. But he said nothing. (p.296)

"I believe that no fifteen thousand men ever sent for battle could take that hill, sir."

"I estimate his strength in the center at not much more than five thousand men."

Remember Longstreet’s earlier statement that a man dug in behind a trench can take out three men.

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