General Robert E. Lee
Confederacy. The Commander of the Army of Northern
Virginia, or Confederate army. At the age of fifty-seven, Lee has
become one of the most famous—and most revered—men in the South.
He has led his army through a string of victories. At the time of the
Battle of Gettysburg, Lee is having heart trouble, and he eventually
dies of heart disease in 1870
. In his foreword,
Shaara writes that Lee is “a man in control. He does not lose his
temper nor his faith. He believes absolutely in God. He loves Virginia
above all, the mystic dirt of home. He is the most beloved man in either
in-depth analysis of General Robert E. Lee.
General James Longstreet
Confederacy. Lee’s second in command and, since
the death of “Stonewall” Jackson, his most important general. At
forty-two, Longstreet is full-bearded, slow talking, and crude.
He is aware of the new nature of warfare, and he knows that military tactics
have to change with new technology. He is very stubborn, but he
has great respect for Robert E. Lee, and ultimately he defers to
his commander’s judgment, though not without a good deal of argument.
All three of his children were killed by a fever during the winter before
the Battle of Gettysburg. This loss has sunk the usually jovial
Longstreet into a depression that is severe at times.
in-depth analysis of General James Longstreet.
Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Union. Thirty-four years old, Chamberlain
has left his home in Maine and a comfortable professorship at Bowdoin
College to come to war. He is the colonel of the Twentieth Maine
Infantry regiment. He was an excellent student at school, speaks seven
languages, and has a lovely singing voice, but all his life he has
wanted to be a soldier. He lied to Bowdoin and told them he was
going on sabbatical to France because they would not let him go
to war. He is an intellectual, given to brooding and poetic thoughts.
General John Buford
Union. A cavalry commander, Buford comes from the
great plains of the Midwest, and dislikes the tame and political
East. He has an eye for finding the best ground on a battlefield.
He has been given two brigades and ordered to follow the movements
of the Confederate army.
An Englishman sent to observe the Confederate army
in action. Many people in the Confederacy hold out hope that England
will come to their aid, since the South still bears many of the traditional
aspects of English society, particularly in its class structure.
But realists like Lee and Longstreet know that England will never
help the Confederacy as long as it endorses slavery. Fremantle is
tall and thin and reminds Longstreet of Ichabod Crane. Fremantle
is dismayed by the rough manners of many of the soldiers, but he
is also amazed at how much the Southerners are like Englishmen.
He especially admires Robert E. Lee and James Longstreet. He is
very enthusiastic about the battles, but he rarely has any idea
of what is really going on.
General George Pickett
Confederacy. Perfumed, with bouncing curly hair,
George Pickett is a true dandy. Last in his class at West Point,
Pickett has nonetheless risen to the rank of major general, and
he leads an entire division. He is in love with a girl half his
age and, in his typical melodramatic style, he has sworn to her
that he would never drink. His division has not seen action in battle yet,
and he longs for a chance to prove himself and his men.
General J. E. B. Stuart
Confederacy. Stuart is the cavalry leader assigned
by Lee to track the movements of the Union army. A fun-loving publicity
hound, Stuart is off joyriding for the first two days of the battle,
and it is his negligence that causes the Confederate army to lose track
of the Union troops in the first place. Because of Stuart’s absence,
during the first two days the Confederates never know where the
Union troops are or what the surrounding area looks like.
Union. Joshua’s brother and aide, also in the Twentieth
Maine. Not as smart or as brooding as his brother, Tom is more social,
funnier, and more easygoing. While he has been a calming presence
to his brother, he soon becomes a liability when Joshua Chamberlain
realizes that he might, at some point, order his brother to his
General Lew Armistead
Confederacy. At forty-six, Armistead is a widower,
and his wife’s death constantly causes him sorrow. A general serving
in Pickett’s division, Armistead knows that his old friend, Winfield Hancock,
is on the other side of the war, serving as a general in the Union
army. Armistead and Hancock will both be at the Battle of Gettysburg.
General Richard Ewell
Confederacy. Recently chosen to replace part of “Stonewall”
Jackson’s command, Ewell has become unsure of himself after suffering
an injury that cost him his leg. As Jackson’s replacement, Ewell
has a great amount of responsibility, which is a source of concern
to Lee. Lee is particularly troubled by the way that Ewell defers
to Jubal Early.
General Jubal Early
Confederacy. A young, ambitious, and cold general.
Like Ewell, he has been given a part of Jackson’s old command. He
accepts this responsibility easily. He is capable and confident,
but also pushy, particularly with Ewell. Though Ewell technically
has the greater responsibility and the greater control, he defers
to Early. Longstreet and Armistead despise Early.
Private Buster Kilrain
Union. A former sergeant who was demoted to private
for drunkenly assaulting a fellow officer. A big, stocky Irishman,
Kilrain is getting old and knows he does not have many fights left
in him. He becomes a friend and mentor to his colonel, Joshua Chamberlain.
General John Reynolds
Union. An intelligent infantry general who has a
gift for positioning troops, Reynolds refuses to become the commander
of the Union army, a position that is then given to George Meade.
Reynolds is killed shortly after the action begins at Gettysburg.
General George Meade
Union. Recently appointed commander of the Union
armies, Meade arrives a bit late to the Battle of Gettysburg. Cautious
but intelligent, he makes only a brief appearance in The
An aide to Longstreet. Sorrel is a competent but not very sociable
General John Hood
Confederate. A major general under Longstreet’s command,
Hood is Longstreet’s most competent soldier. Like Longstreet, he
prefers defensive strategies, and he understands that the nature
of war is changing.
General Isaac Trimble
Confederate. An old general who participates in Pickett’s
General Winfield Scott Hancock
Union. A competent, important general of the Union
army, who directs much of the action at Gettysburg. He is an old
friend of Confederate General Lew Armistead, who fights on the other
side at Gettysburg.
General Ambrose Powell Hill
Confederate. A general whose troops do much of the
fighting on the first day of the battle, first with Union General
John Buford’s cavalry, then John Reynolds’s infantry.