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AMERICAN CIVIL WAR > 7. KILLER ANGELS (HF) ~ SECTIONS - 1. FREMANTLE + 2. CHAMBERLAIN - (163 - 190) (02/15/10 - 02/21/10) ~ No spoilers, please

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
This is the reading assignment for week seven - (February 15, 2010 to February 21, 2010):

Thursday, July 2, 1863 — 1. Fremantle (12 pages) - 163 - 174 - Week Seven
Thursday, July 2, 1863 — 2. Chamberlain (16 pages) 175 - 190 - Week Seven

Hello Everyone,

Today we are continuing our historical fiction discussion on Killer Angels. This is the first historical fiction group selected book. We hope that the membership will participate.

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers.

This book was kicked off on January 4th.

This discussion will be led by assisting moderator of historical fiction - Elizabeth S.

We look forward to your participation. Barnes and Noble and other noted on line booksellers do have copies of the book and shipment can be expedited. The book can also be obtained easily at your local library, or on your Kindle.

Since we only started this book on January 4th, there is still time remaining to obtain the book and get started. This is a quick and fast paced book.

There is no rush and we are thrilled to have you join us. It is never too late to get started and/or to post.

This thread opens tomorrow February 15th for discussion. This is a non spoiler thread.

Welcome,

~Bentley


TO ALWAYS SEE ALL WEEKS' THREADS SELECT VIEW ALL

The Killer Angels by Michael ShaaraMichael Shaara


message 2: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments This week's reading begins at dawn on what we know as the second day of the battle. The viewpoint is Freemantle, the British officer observing the war. The Confederate troops are rising for the day in a good mood. Once fully awake, Freemantle enjoys being among the winners. He hope to see the actual battle today, and rides to Gettysburg, viewing the moldering bodies as he goes. Freemantle feels a lot of fellowship with the Southerners, thinking of them as transplanted Englishmen. He follows Longstreet, whom he has a lot of respect for, and they talk for a bit. Then Freemantle visits with other European observers. And we get another opinion on what the war is about, a British opinion.

In the next chapter we return to Chamberlain. He and his men have still not seen any of the Gettysburg fighting. They see prisoners being marched, and Chamberlain thinks of his wife. Kilrain comes up, having found a “darky.” They feed him, find a bullet in him, and guess he is an escaped servant or field hand slave. Kilrain says, “And this is what it’s all about” (page 179). We can tell that many of Chamberlain’s men have never seen an African American before, there just weren’t many in New England. Shaara gives us an interesting description of an educated man’s first encounter, up close, with someone of a significantly different color. Tom reports that the “Reb prisoners” say the war is about “‘rats’” (i.e. rights), not about slavery. Tom finds it funny. They march on, then are stopped, and wait. Finally an order comes. Chamberlain and Kilrain discuss more about why they are fighting the war. And wait more.



message 3: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments There is a lot to talk about this week in terms of why the Civil War was fought.

In the Freemantle chapter, we get one British opinion. "But the point is they [the Southerners:] do it all exactly as we do in Europe. And the North does not. That's what this war is really about.... The Northerner doesn't give a damn for tradition, or breeding, or the Old Country." (See page 174, the last page of Freemantle chapter.)

When Chamberlain's men find an escaped slave, Kilrain says, "'And this is what it's all about.'" (See page 179.) The slaves.

Chamberlain's brother, Tom, thinks it is hilarious that the Confederate prisoners keep saying that the war isn't about slavery, it is about their "'rats.'" The pronunciation is so different, it takes them a while to figure out that means "rights." Tom asked what rights were being offended, and they couldn't say.

To Chamberlain, the bottom line is that he sees everyone, black or white, as a man. There is no difference. And yet a Southern minister told him, "very patiently, that that was the thing I did not understand, that a Negro was not a man." (See page 187.) And Chamberlain decides he is willing to kill, if he has to, because he believes all people are men.

In personal discussion, Kilrain says that the reason he, personally, is fighting is "to prove I'm a better man than many" (page 188). He says, "It's the aristocracy I'm after" (page 189). He wants to be treated fairly, as he deserves, no matter what his father deserved.

Now, that is a lot of reasons for the war. Or reasons for a man to fight and kill. I found it most interesting that Kilrain's personal reason was the other side of Freemantle's perspective. And that Kilrain's personal reasons for fighting were different than what he thought the war was about.

What do you all think? Who's right? Or are they all, in a sense, right? What "rights" are the Southerners fighting for? Does it matter if each side is fighting for a different reason?




message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 15, 2010 01:34PM) (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
In the Fremantle chapter, the British opinion seems to be that there is a difference in upbringing and major cultural differences which were the undercurrent and the source of the hostilities between the two which eventually caused the break and the discord. Some folks say it was not the burning of the morning toast that caused the final argument and the divorce but those hostilities that had been brewing for a mighty long time between the two. It wasn't a this or a that but a complete lack of appreciation of each other and what each entity held dear.

Of course, it was not all about the slaves as many would like us to believe (it wasn't all about generosity to our fellow man, equality or an altruistic feeling towards the less fortunate either); these clearly were not what caused the line in the sand to be drawn across American family lines and our country.

States rights obviously had a lot to do with it; but it was more likely their way of life, their culture, the ability to live as they did that caused this fissure. Their economy depended upon their making decisions which were in their best interest. They no longer felt that the Union was thinking along those lines.


message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 15, 2010 04:37PM) (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
It is interesting that the Southern minister did not view an African American man as a man.

He viewed this man as some aberrant entity that was not obviously white but it was certainly a human being.

It is difficult to follow the Southern minister's thinking isn't it. Especially when we view how far all minorities have come. They were viewed as labor and as a piece of property which you could with what you will.

It was never about the Black man's rights. It was more about the rights to own a black man and to have slaves and to have the same economy with the current labor force remaining intact.

We still see a caste system in other countries today. And in these societies, people in the lower castes are considered not equal. You only have to look at how women are treated in many Islamic countries to see that the practice of not being equal still lives on.


message 6: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 15, 2010 04:52PM) (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
It is interesting to note that there was an Arthur Fremantle and he was not really acting in an official capacity when he was at Gettysburg, but more of a tourist.



description

General Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle - he was only at the time of Gettysburg - Captain and Lieutenant Colonel

I am placed the wikipedia article about him in the glossary.


message 7: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "It is interesting that the Southern minister did not view an African American man as a man.

He viewed this man as some aberrant entity that was not obviously white but it was certainly a human b..."


It's funny, isn't it, that when one person sees another group as property and another person sees that same group as men... it just makes it so difficult to understand one another. Each foundational belief has so many choices and opinions that branch off of it.

You have a good point that it wasn't really about black men's rights. As a country we didn't get to that until basically the 1960's. (Although we saw in No Ordinary Time some beginnings of it in the 1940's.)

No Ordinary Time Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt The Home Front in World War II by Doris Kearns Goodwin by Doris Kearns Goodwin Doris Kearns Goodwin

There were many who were appalled by slavery, people like Chamberlain in Killer Angels. They may not have been fighting for black men's rights as we think of civil rights today, but they were fighting to end that ownership of another human being. (I think those same people, if born 100 years later, would have been part of the Civil Rights Movement in America.)

Lots of these reasons for the war are complex and subtle versions of each other in many ways. The Southerns felt the Northerns were trying to end their way of life. And the Kilrain in the book says he is. Even without the slavery, would the war have still happened to take down the Southern aristocracy? Maybe not.


message 8: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "It is interesting to note that there was an Arthur Fremantle and he was not really acting in an official capacity when he was at Gettysburg, but more of a tourist.
General Sir Arthur James Lyo..."


Did you say the article is in the glossary? I didn't see it there.




message 9: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Fremantle comments on the rebel yell in his chapter this week. It was interesting to read the wikipedia article on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebel_Yell
(I post it here because it doesn't talk about Gettysburg or give any spoilers that I could see.)

In the book, Fremantle says he thinks the Rebels learned it from the indians. The wikipedia article says that is possible, but also possible it was derived from the battle screams of Scottish Highlanders. The purpose of the yell was, of course, to scare the heck out of your enemy and to boost your own courage and fire your own adrenaline as you ran to attack the enemy.

Interestingly, there is controversy as to what the yell actually sounded like. It has been described in various fashions. The wikipedia article does include links to two possibly accurate recordings, one made in 1935 and the other in 1938. I'll probably have to wait until tomorrow to listen to them, since the kids are supposed to be going to sleep now, and I'm sure my cheap earphones wouldn't do the yell justice. :)


message 10: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments More interesting info on the rebel yell:
http://www.stonewallbrigade.com/artic...


message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
I am sorry Elizabeth..I was called away. It is posted now.


message 12: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
I listened to all of them and I have to say the one that bothered me the most was the entire group doing it. It sounded like a bunch of Indians - Native Americans (from all of the films I have watched lol).

It must have really sent shivers down the backs of the Union soldiers.


message 13: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments And if you start with an entire group doing it, then add that they are running at you with fixed bayonets... you can see why sometimes the Union soldiers just up and ran away.


message 14: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments My favorite view of Longstreet throughout the book is the view we get through Fremantle's eyes. Fremantle has awe, perhaps some hero-worship, for Longstreet. I like how Fremantle asks some simple questions, and Longstreet answers showing us how a general takes the info he has and analyzes it and makes decisions. (That OODA loop we talked about in an earlier thread.)

Good example of this is on pages 171-172. Longstreet has been discussing various methods for attacking, and finally Fremantle asks why he isn't worried about the Union soldiers attacking them? Why aren't they making any defensive positions? Longstreet says that hadn't really occurred to him, he supposes it is "possible". And then he explains why it won't happen. That just isn't the way General Meade works. He would usually take a week to analyze the situation before planning an attack. And he doesn't have the full Army together yet. And Meade will think of other reasons not to attack.

It's funny, isn't it, that Longstreet originally did this analysis originally without even thinking about it. To the point where he said he hadn't even considered the option of them attacking. It was just so obvious to Longstreet.

Again, we see the value of intelligence. Longstreet needs to know who is in charge over there, how long he has been there, what type of a general he is, how much of the Army is there.


message 15: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
Elizabeth S wrote: "And if you start with an entire group doing it, then add that they are running at you with fixed bayonets... you can see why sometimes the Union soldiers just up and ran away."

It really could be eerie.




message 16: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 16, 2010 11:20AM) (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
Elizabeth S wrote: "My favorite view of Longstreet throughout the book is the view we get through Fremantle's eyes. Fremantle has awe, perhaps some hero-worship, for Longstreet. I like how Fremantle asks some simple..."

Yes, very true Elizabeth...Longstreet instinctively knew his enemy and all about the men he probably at one time or another had served with and for.

The way he thinks reminds me of the book The Art of War.


The Art of War by Sun Tzu Sun TzuSun Tzu

It probably is taught in every MBA program there is and is as much about strategy and tactics in life as it was about strategy in war. It was written in 6th century BC so who knows maybe Longstreet had read it. :-)


message 17: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Early in this week's Chamberlain chapter we hear some of his men complaining, "'Colonel, it keeps raining, these damn Enfields gonna clog on us. Whyn't we trade 'em for Springfields first chance we get?' Chamberlain agreed."

Made me curious what the difference is between the Enfield rifle and the Springfield rifle. I'll post the wikipedia links in the glossary, because there is some spoiler info. But here is a good picture of the two:

description

I believe the top is a 1863 Sprinfield Rifled Musket and the bottom an Enfield Musketoon. Both the North and the South used these guns.

From various wikipedia sources (see the glossary for links):

The Enfield 1853 Rifle-Musket was also used by both the North and the South in the American Civil War, and was the second most widely used infantry weapon in the war, surpassed only by the Springfield Model 1861 Rifled Musket.

and

The Springfield had an effective range of 200 to 300 yards, and used percussion caps to fire (rather than the flintlocks of the 1700s, the last U.S. flintlock musket was the Model 1840). Trained troops were able to fire at a rate of three rounds per minute while maintaining accuracy up to 500 yards, though firing distances in the war were often much shorter.

Again, another example of a brief mention of something that was daily, common knowledge to the men we read about in the book.


message 18: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
Very interesting about the rifles Elizabeth and good job with the photo.


message 19: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) Hi Elizabeth, great information and pictures on the Enfield and Sprinfield. Really makes history so much more real when you can add material like that to a discussion.


message 20: by Robert (new)

Robert | 29 comments Bentley and Elizabeth,
I enjoyed your discussion of the causes of the civil war from this week's two chapters. As you point out, they ranged widely in the characters' minds from protecting a traditional way of life (Fremantle), defining a black man as property (southern minister), an ill-defined notion of states' rights (Confederate prisoners), an anti-aristocratic populism (Kilrain) and a hatred of slavery (Chamberlain). As Shaara notes, only Chamberlain has thought through the complexities of human rights, states' rights, border issues and a flawed defintion of a "man" in the original Constitution. But presenting these views at this point in the book begs the question of why these conversations are taking place mid-battle?
I suspect what Shaara is doing is using the lull on the morning of July 2nd to set up the reader to really confront the question of why men fight. The first day's battle is gruesome in terms of dead and wounded, but both sides stumble into it. By most historical estimates, we now know that July 1st ends up being only 20-25% of the total casualties at Gettysburg. Thus, it seems to me that the timing of the discussion Shaara injects in these chapters is very purposeful.


message 21: by Viviane (new)

Viviane Crystal | 22 comments Loved both these chapters. Freemantle is amusing and Longstreet is very respectful of Freemantle's pure view of these warriors. Loved the part where Freemantle thinks to himself that perhaps they will all go back to the Queen and things will be as they were. Had quite a chuckle on that one!
Re Chamberlain, yes, this is where the rubber meets the road, that is meeting a black man and facing the reality behind the idea of why this war is being fought. Chamberlain has to process that moment carefully and comes out with stronger and more focused reason for figbting this war for equality. Yes, a deliberate plant before the actual battle.


message 22: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Robert and Viviane, loved both your comments.

Robert, I like your summary of the various views of the war by the different characters. And your point that only Chamberlain had thought it through in detail. I think that is often the case. Most of us have one big reason for our actions. Seldom do we think it through at the level Chamberlain does in the book. He does, I think, partly because it is the scholar in him. He was trained by his studying and writing to analyze issues like this.

I agree that Shaara is filling this lull with some philosophical questions. That is probably partly why he picked Chamberlain's regiment. They hadn't seen any fighting at all yet, they only just arrived by Gettysburg during the second day. With a lot of marching and waiting going on, of course it would lend them to thinking about the "why." And it fits nicely in the flow of the book.

One of the things that also strikes me in reading Killer Angels is how little the average soldier knew during the battles. Even how little the Colonels and Generals knew. Half the time they seem to not even know who is in charge of the army. We've talked about the importance of accurate information for the Generals making their decisions. The soldiers don't need to make those kinds of decisions, so most of the time they just don't know things like how deadly the battle has been so far.


message 23: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Viviane,

Yes, Fremantle is quite amusing! I wonder what the Confederates would have done with him had they known of his pipe-dream that they would eventually reunite with England. Ha!

I was really intrigued by how Shaara wrote about this educated, comparatively enlightened man (Chamberlain) first seeing a black man. I think it was handled very well. We can't all grow up with every experience in life, some things we meet for the first time as an adult. Like Chamberlain meeting a black man. Like people who've only seen dark hair first meeting a blonde. There is a reaction, even if there is no prejudice.


message 24: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Here's a more close-up picture of the two guns:

description

Does anyone else know enough about guns to know why the Enfields were clogging in the rain for the soldiers?


message 25: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
This article gives some idea concerning preference for the rifles and mentions Chamberlain:

http://www.nps.gov/archive/gett/soldi...


message 26: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
I found this:

A supreme advantage of the Springfield is the relative ease (compared to the Enfield) with which the gun can be stripped down and the barrel removed from the stock. The barrel bands are held in place by leaf springs that are simply depressed to allow the band to be quickly removed. For all the Enfield devotees who tout the "ease" of cleaning their blued muskets, many Enfield owners find removing the barrel from the stock to be so tedious that they never do it. Moisture then seeps in between the stock and barrel and, in a short time, rust turns into unchecked pitting. If "out of sight, out of mind" describes your approach to firearm maintenance, buy an Enfield and then never thoroughly clean it.


message 27: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments I guess never quite thoroughly cleaning the Enfield would mean it would clog more often. Thanks for that info. All these little details that the Generals aren't dealing with on a minute-by-minute basis. And so often we as readers are looking at things from the high-level General perspective. I think Shaara does a great job giving us both views of the war (i.e. both high-level and low-level).


message 28: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
It seems based upon what I have read that moisture seems to be able to get into the stock and barrel. And it is not a good thing if you are depending upon your rifle to save your life.


message 29: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Bentley wrote: "It seems based upon what I have read that moisture seems to be able to get into the stock and barrel. And it is not a good thing if you are depending upon your rifle to save your life. "

I guess that is why John Wayne threw the bad-guy's gun into the river so often in those old Westerns. :) Makes sense that the gun wouldn't fire right, or moisture would cause too much friction for the bullet, or many other things.


message 30: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
Not being a gun person I am not sure..but it makes sense.


message 31: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Yes, a gun person would probably roll their eyes in disgust at my blatantly amateur descriptions of what water would do to a gun.


message 32: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments There is also a lot about the difference in language in this week's chapters. Even though they all "speak" the same language, the pronunciation is so different they have a hard time understanding each other.

When Chamberlain's men find the escaped slave, they can't understand him at all. Finally he hears them say, "Do you suppose that could be 'thank you'?" and he adjusts his words to "Tang oo, tang oo, baas." (See page 178.)

Later, Tom and others have difficulty understanding the Rebel prisoner's words. And they think it is funny that "rats" turns out to be "rights."

I don't see anything in the Fremantle chapter about pronunciation. Does anyone else see something I missed?

There are a number of little references to different terms. For example, on page 169 Fremantle referes to the American expression "corralled him."

When we look at the Civil War, we often wonder how people could fight when they shared the same country and the same language. And yet the language isn't all that similar, is it. People's ability to communicate with each other is such a big part of getting along, of respecting each other.


message 33: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Feb 19, 2010 08:28AM) (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
I agree..and at their time in our history there were regional differences and probably more pronounced dialects. I cannot believe that the down Mainer twang wasn't hard to understand at times either. Or even the Bostonian accent and this was probably the first encounter that these folks had with any of them at least from the South and of course the Mainers probably did not know what to make of the Southerners and the Southern slaves way of talking. They had a hard enough time with the hot weather which you rarely get in Maine at least not like in the South.

Somehow the whole Civil War thing only accentuated our differences versus our similarities.


message 34: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Funny, isn't it. It seems people often go through an intense period of recognizing differences before (hopefully) noticing the ways we are the same. In some ways it is part of a natural cycle as we expand our horizons and gain experience. The trick is to get to that point where the differences don't cause wars or prejudice or abuse, and the similarities are acknowledged.


message 35: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

Bentley | 39938 comments Mod
Very true Elizabeth...but this seemed to be one of those times where how we were different seemed to win the day. But you can always hope that human similarities will overcome the differences.


message 36: by Elizabeth S (new)

Elizabeth S (esorenson) | 2011 comments Interesting note on the Fremantle chapter: In the sparknotes, they mention that the Fremantle sections of the book are based on the memoirs Fremantle wrote just a few months after the battle of Gettysburg. So his thoughts and opinions are probably the most accurate of any of the characters in the book. Accurate in the sense that it was close to what he was really thinking at the time.

Here's the book:

Three Months in the Southern States April-June 1863 by Arthur J.L. Fremantle by Arthur J.L. Fremantle

Evidently it was a bestseller in both England and the US for a while. I'm putting some links to Fremantle stuff in the glossary because there is spoiler info mixed in.


message 37: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) This looks like an interesting book, hmmmm, can I sneak another book into the library! Thanks for the information Elizabeth.


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