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The Killer Angels

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July 2, 1863: Chapters 1–2

Summary July 2, 1863: Chapters 1–2

Summary—Chapter 1: Fremantle

Early morning, Confederate camp. English military observer Arthur Fremantle awakens, excited at the prospect of watching another battle—and, he hopes, another Confederate victory. He chats with other foreign observers, most notably a fat Austrian named Ross, and he marvels at how wonderful it is to be in the camp of what he thinks is the winning side. He rides to Gettysburg and climbs a tree to get a good view of the scene. He sees the officers meeting to discuss the plans for the day, and he wonders if there is any chance of the Confederacy rejoining England after the war. Lee arrives to meet with Longstreet, and Fremantle—conscious that the soldiers are laughing at him as he hangs in a tree—comes down. He speaks briefly with Ross, who is dressed in his bright blue, amusing war costume, complete with a metal helmet. Fremantle is quite unaware of the grave nature of the battle, and he always believes that the gentlemanly South will naturally win the war: “Fremantle knew with the certainty of youth and faith that [Longstreet] could not possibly lose this day, not with these troops, not with Englishmen, the gentlemen against the rabble.” He is delighted, if a bit nervous, at the sound of the first cannon.

Fremantle asks Longstreet why the Confederates have not entrenched, wondering why they are not worried about a Union attack. Longstreet replies that Meade would never attack, and also that the Union forces are so fortified in their position that they would not want to move. Longstreet says, as he always does, that the best action for the Confederates is to swing around the Union army and come between them and Washington, D.C. to force the Union to attack. Of course, Lee will not agree to this plan.

Fremantle leaves to join his fellow Europeans. He muses again on how the “experiment” of America has failed, and the “equality of rabble” has changed back to a class system in just two generations—but only in the South. The South is “the Old Country.” He believes he has stumbled on something profound.

Summary—Chapter 2: Chamberlain

I was really thinking of killing him . . . and it was then I realized . . . I would kill them, and something at the same time said: you cannot be utterly right.

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Morning, Union camp just outside Gettysburg. Chamberlain sits with his regiment and awaits new orders. He cannot help thinking about his home in Maine, and his wife.

Private Kilrain comes over and informs Chamberlain that they have discovered an escaped slave. He is a large man who speaks little English, but he manages to thank the Union soldiers. Chamberlain has the surgeon bind the man’s wounds and gives him food, but he cannot take the slave with the troops. He tries to point the slave in the right direction the best he can. Chamberlain is intrigued by the encounter—he has seen few black men in his life, and he finds himself somewhat bothered by his feelings when he sees the man. He feels slight revulsion, which occurs despite what he believes he should feel, and it irks him.

He begins to move the regiment forward. Another colonel appears and informs Chamberlain that his group is headed toward the small hill—Little Round Top.