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The Killer Angels

  • Study Guide

July 2, 1863: Chapter 3

Summary July 2, 1863: Chapter 3

General Lee’s insistence on a frontal assault creates significant problems for the Confederates, and it highlights the tension between his and Longstreet’s views of the best strategies for conducting the war. Longstreet has been advising for days that the Confederacy should move southeast and come between the Union army and Washington, D.C. The Confederates would then find some good ground and dig in. The politicians in Washington would be terrified at the thought of having nothing between them and the Confederate army, and, therefore, they would force the Union general, Meade, to attack. This is the plan Longstreet has been pushing to Lee, but Lee does not want to fight defensively—he wants to win by show of force. Flush from two previous victories at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, Lee thinks he can finish the job at Gettysburg. Therefore Lee wants a frontal assault, and Longstreet, loyal to Lee, will not disobey orders, stubborn as he is. The situation becomes even more painful for Longstreet when he realizes that the Union army has actually come down off of Cemetery Ridge and occupied the peach orchard. With no troops on Little Round Top or Round Top, the Confederates could easily move southeast and attack from behind the Union position. But Longstreet is already late in his attack, and he orders Hood to attack the peach orchard from the front. This decision results in terrible losses on both sides, and it is one of the main factors leading to a Confederate defeat.