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Evening, Confederate camp just west of Gettysburg.
Longstreet rides aimlessly on his horse and broods, examining the
battlefield. He is anxious about the hills, because he recognizes
the strategic importance of the high ground. Longstreet knows that Lee
will attack the next day. Lee is “fixed and unturnable, a runaway
horse,” and Longstreet believes that Lee is making a mistake.
But Lee will not listen to Longstreet, and Lee’s reticence makes Longstreet
depressed. Longstreet starts to think about his children, all three
of them dead from fever over the winter, and he becomes even more
depressed. He knows that the army is all that he has left.
Fremantle, the British observer, fumbles his
way next to Longstreet. Fremantle is giddy with pleasure at having
seen the fighting earlier that day. He is impressed by the Southern
people, since they often seem similar to the English. He says that
Lee is an English general, and that Lee has gained a reputation
in Europe—mostly because Americans are never thought of as gentlemen.
Fremantle adds, “You cannot imagine the surprise. One hears all
these stories of Indians and massacres and lean backwoodsmen with
ten-foot rifles and rain dances and what not, and yet here, your
officers. . . . Why, do you know, your General Lee is even a member
of the Church of England?” Fremantle hopes that the English and
the Confederacy can become allies. England, however, never enters
the war against the Union because the Confederates support slavery,
to which England is opposed.
Fremantle and Longstreet also discuss “Stonewall”
Jackson, Lee’s former right-hand general who was killed before the
Battle of Gettysburg. Another Confederate officer, Dick Garnett,
was shamed when Jackson accused him of cowardice in retreating from
an impossible fight, and Jackson tried to have Garnett court-martialed.
Garnett, who now serves under General Pickett, had no chance to
clear his name before Jackson died, and now he is depressed because
of his dishonored reputation. “Honor without intelligence . . .
could lose the war,” Longstreet says, referring obliquely to Lee
and his style of gentlemen’s warfare. Longstreet describes how he
believes a new form of fighting should be introduced, one that takes
advantage of new weapon technology such as repeating rifles. But
Lee, Longstreet thinks, “would rather lose the war than his dignity.”
Lee meets with generals Ewell, Early, and Rodes. Lee wants
to know why Ewell has not taken Cemetery Hill. Ewell claims that
he did not think it possible. Early adds that there were rumors
of Union forces to the north that had to be confirmed before they
could make an attack, so they decided to wait for another general,
Johnson, to arrive with his forces. Early adds that Cemetery Hill
“will be a very strong position” for the Union forces.
Annoyed, but ready to move on, Lee asks Ewell
if he can attack the right (northern) flank of the Union army the
next day. Early thinks it would be a difficult fight, but if Longstreet
attacks the left flank, it might draw enough Union troops to the
south to make an attack by Ewell and Early worthwhile. Lee mentions Longstreet’s
suggestion that they move the army southeast and come between the
Union army and Washington, D.C. Ewell thinks that to leave the town,
which they have captured, would demoralize the troops, and Early
thinks it unwise to move an entire army around the high, fortified
position that the Union forces are holding. Privately, to himself,
Lee agrees that it would be extremely difficult to move the army
without Stuart and his cavalry to guide them.
Lee leaves and meets General Isaac Trimble,
who is furious with Ewell for not having taken Cemetery Hill. Trimble
tells Lee that he offered to take the hill with no more than a regiment,
but Ewell made no response: he simply froze. Lee retires to his
headquarters in an old house and considers his options. Lee sends
for Ewell. Ewell arrives, somewhat sheepish, and tells
his commander that he and Early think they should attack the right flank,
as Lee suggested. Ewell apologizes for being too “careful” that
day, and Lee, a gentleman, accepts the apology and does not chide
Ewell very much. Lee goes to sleep, wondering where Stuart is.
Shaara decides to focus his novel on the Confederacy’s
view of the Battle of Gettysburg for several reasons. The battle
is often referred to as the “high tide of the Confederacy,” because
it was as close as the Confederate States of America ever came to achieving
their independence. They had invaded Northern territory and were
now attempting to destroy the Union army once and for all. Lee knows
that if they successfully destroy the Union army, the war will be
over. This desire to completely vanquish his opponents may be part
of the reason why Lee is so intent on attacking the Union troops
instead of moving to the defensive posture Longstreet continually
In Chapter 5, Longstreet
begins to take a central role in the novel. By focusing on his character,
Shaara advances the idea, once very popular among historians, that
Longstreet was a visionary tactician who understood the nature of
modern warfare before there really was such a thing. In an extended
discussion with Fremantle, Longstreet explains how a single man
with a rifle can kill at least three men on a battlefield, on average,
when in a defensive posture—behind a tree, or in a trench. This
view of Longstreet is partially based on Longstreet’s own writings
after the war, when it was very obvious that the Confederacy could have
benefited from more defensive tactics. Shaara bases his characterization
of Longstreet on a number of the man’s own writings, so all the
discussion of futuristic tactics and Longstreet’s frustration at
the backward or old-style strategies of Lee must be taken with a
grain of salt. Longstreet became an advocate for defensive warfare
after seeing it work well at Fredericksburg, but his enthusiasm
was not necessarily based on a realization of the nature of modern
warfare—he had seen defensive warfare work well, and so he thought
it should be used more often.
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