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The Killer Angels

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July 2, 1863: Chapter 5–6

Summary July 2, 1863: Chapter 5–6

Summary—Chapter 5: Longstreet

Thing is, if anything bad happens now, they all blame it on you. I seen it comin’. They can’t blame General Lee.

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Evening, Confederate camp. Longstreet moves through the makeshift Confederate hospital, which is overflowing with wounded from the day’s battle. He sees General Hood, whose hand was injured during the battle. The drugged Hood asks if the attack succeeded, and Longstreet lies and says it did. One of Longstreet’s aides tells him that Hood’s officers are blaming Longstreet for the failure of the attack. They would never blame Lee for a failed attack, so they immediately turn to Longstreet. Longstreet’s head aide, Sorrel, reports that the casualties are heavy. Nearly half of the men in Hood’s division, 8,000 men, have been killed, wounded, or captured in two hours of fighting.

Longstreet thinks that there are no longer enough men for another frontal assault and that Lee will therefore not order one the next day. Longstreet orders Sorrel to get hard counts of the casualties and the amount of ammunition and weapons remaining. As Sorrel rides away, another aide appears to tell Longstreet that Pickett has finally arrived. Longstreet tells the aide he will meet Pickett shortly.

Longstreet rides toward Lee’s headquarters and finds Stuart waiting outside, surrounded by reporters and admirers and enjoying the attention. Longstreet pays little attention. Longstreet meets Lee, who draws him into the headquarters and away from the press. Lee, thinking that the Union forces had nearly retreated, tells Longstreet that he thought it was very close that day. Longstreet thinks Lee is deluding himself. He tells Lee that there are three Union corps dug into the high ground in front of him. Longstreet pushes, one last time, for Lee to move the Confederate army around to the right, to the southeast, and to put itself between the Union army and Washington, D.C.

Another general appears and demands that Longstreet persuade Lee to court-martial Stuart, who has left the Confederate army blind to the Union’s movements. Longstreet says he will talk to Lee, but that he does not think it will do any good. Fremantle appears and tries to congratulate Longstreet on his “victory.” As they ride along aimlessly, Longstreet realizes that Lee will attack the next day, an idea he thinks is suicidal. Fremantle claims that Lee is the most “devious” man he has ever met, and Longstreet replies that the Confederacy does not win with tactics, it wins with sheer determination. He is actually annoyed with the lack of tactics in the campaign, and thinks Lee does not use enough strategy. He says it will be a “bloody miracle” if the Confederates win the war. He resolves to speak to Lee in the morning, to make one last attempt to get him to move to the right.

Longstreet moves on and runs into Pickett and the other officers. Longstreet speaks with Armistead, who is disgusted by the fact that Fremantle thinks the Confederacy is fighting for slavery. Longstreet shrugs—he believes that the war is indeed about slavery, though that is not why he personally is fighting.

Armistead is old friends with Winfield Hancock, a Union general whom Longstreet fought earlier in the day. Armistead says that he had once vowed to Hancock that if he ever raised his hand against Hancock, then God may strike Armistead dead.