War is a complicated event. Many different factors are considered in the strategic planning during a war. The number of troops, ammunition supplies, and the lay of the land are just three of the considerations that must be given when fighting a battle. Such considerations were made during the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg. In The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, Shaara uses geography throughout his recounting of the event. His use of geography is seen in his descriptions of the people involved, his description of the climate, and his superb outlining of the natural landscape.
In the novel, Shaara begins by describing the Armies. On the side of the South is the Army of Northern Virginia, led by Robert E. Lee. This army is composed of 70 thousand men who are volunteers and rebels. They are within a certain culture. The men of this army share not only a common language and religion, but they also share the same customs. Most of the men are Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. Their language is English. Most of all, this army is fighting for a mutual cause which is disunion. Victorious is the feeling among these men. Wholeheartedly, the men of the Army of Northern Virginia believe that they can defeat the Army of the Potomac.
The Army of the Potomac differs greatly in composition than the South's army. Although they have a common goal, to defeat the Southerners, the men who make up this army have little else in common. They are led by Major General George Meade. Most of these 80,000 men are volunteers. Language barriers exist within this group. Also, a shared religion does not exist. Unlike the Army of Northe...
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... Northern Virginia, they have to move into open spaces and climb hilly and rocky terrain. Obviously, Shaara's use of geography is apparent in his outlining of the events at the Battle of Gettysburg.
In conclusion, Michael Shaara vividly recounts the Battle of Gettysburg. Throughout his novel, The Killer Angels, Shaara's use of geography allows the reader to understand the people, feel the climate of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and relive the action as it unfolds. Strategic plans are made by the Army of Northern Virginia, but in this battle the natural landscape is too cumbersome. Victorious is the Army of the Potomac. Thanks to its near perfect view.
Shaara, Michael. The Killer Angels. New York: Ballantine, 1975.
Maps of Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3
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