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Dances with Wolves

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The Killer Angels tells the story of the Battle of Gettysburg. On July 1, 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia, or Confederate army, and the Army of the Potomac, or Union army, fought the largest battle of the American Civil War. When the battle ended, 51,000 men were dead, wounded, or missing. All the characters in the novel are based on real historical figures. They include General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate army; General James Longstreet, Lee's second in command; and Union Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain, who participated in one of the most famous segments of the Battle of Gettysburg, the fighting on Little Round Top.

The story begins on June 29, 1863. A spy comes to Longstreet and informs him that he has seen the Union army moving nearby. This information surprises Longstreet, because General J. E. B. Stuart is supposed to be tracking the Union army with his cavalry. Longstreet thinks the Confederate army must quickly move north to intercept the Union. The Confederates swing southeast through the mountains and toward a small town called Gettysburg

Miles south of Gettysburg, Union Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain awakes to discover that his regiment, the Twentieth Maine, has a hundred new members--mutineers from the Second Maine. Chamberlain gives them a brief speech, asking them to continue to fight, and all but six of the men join the Twentieth Maine freely.

In Gettysburg, General John Buford, leader of the Union cavalry, rides into the town and discovers Confederate troops nearby. He realizes that the two armies may end up fighting in the town, so he takes his two brigades--approximately 2,000 men--and positions the soldiers along the hills in the area. He knows that having high ground is the key to winning the battle, since it is easier to fight from above than below. In the Confederate camp, Longstreet meets with George Pickett and several other generals.

On the morning of July 1, Lee rises and curses Stuart's absence. He is blind without Stuart, because without him he has no idea where the Union army is. He meets with Longstreet, who wants to swing southeast and come between the Union army and Washington, D.C. Then, Longstreet says, the Confederates can use defensive tactics and have a much better chance of winning the battle. Lee refuses, because he wants to smash the Union army aggressively in one decisive stroke.

Meanwhile, the battle begins at Gettysburg when the Confederates attack

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