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The Killer Angels

  • Study Guide

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained

Quote 2

[A]wake all night in front of Fredericksburg. We attacked in the afternoon, just at dusk, and the stone wall was aflame from one end to the other, too much smoke, couldn’t see, the attack failed, couldn’t withdraw, lay there all night in the dark, in the cold among the wounded and dying. Piled-up bodies in front of you to catch the bullets, using the dead for a shield; remember the sound? Of bullets in dead bodies? . . . Remember the flap of a torn curtain in a blasted window, fragment-whispering in that awful breeze: never, forever, never, forever.

In this passage from July 1, Chapter 4, Chamberlain remembers the Battle of Fredericksburg. The passage shows Chamberlain’s impressions of his early combat. Unlike many others fighting, Chamberlain was a citizen rather than a career soldier. These early battles and the horror of piling up the corpses of his comrades to block bullets have made a strong impression on his mind. But Chamberlain is an intellectual who teaches in a college, so he remembers the horrors imaginatively, possibly exaggerating their gravity in his mind. Chamberlain’s struggle to deal with the horrors of war illustrates the difficulties that citizens-turned-soldiers had to face when they entered the war.