The Killer Angels: Top Ten Quotes

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  1. In this place at last a man could stand up free of the past, free of tradition and blood ties and the curse of royalty and become what he wished to become.&rdquo

    p. 29 These are the thoughts of Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, commander of the Twentieth Maine regiment, as he ponders how he is going to explain to the 120 mutineers the cause they are fighting for.
  2. “What we are fighting for is our freedom from the rule of what is to us a foreign government. That’s all we want and that’s what this war is about. We established this country in the first place with strong state governments just for that reason, to avoid a central tyranny—”

    p. 70 Brigadier General James Kemper speaks to Freemantle at Longstreet’s camp, explaining to the Englishman that the war is not about slavery but another principle altogether.
  3.  “We drift blindly toward a great collision.”

    p.83 This is General Lee’s thought before the battle begins. He means that he does not have exact information about where or how strong the enemy is. 
  4. "Well, John, we held the ground.”

    Alone at night after the first day of battle, Buford looks up at the stars and speaks to the dead John Reynolds. Reynolds was killed within minutes of arriving at Gettysburg in support of Buford. Buford admired Reynolds and is also proud of the fact that the Union forces held their ground against the rebel assault.
  5. “The experiment doesn’t work. Give them fifty years, and all that equality rot is gone. Here they have that same love of the land and of tradition, of the right form, of breeding, in their horses, their women. Of course slavery is a bit embarrassing, but that, of course, will go. But the point is they do it all exactly as we do in Europe.”

    pp. 173-74 The Englishman Fremantle speaks. The experiment he refers to is the northern experiment with democracy. Fremantle is a supporter of the South, which in its emphasis on tradition reminds him of England.
  6. “No two things on earth are equal or have an equal chance, not a leaf nor a tree. There’s many a man worse than me, and some better, but I don’t think race or country matters a damn. What matters is justice.” p. 188

    Private Buster Kilrain speaks to Colonel Chamberlain. He supports the Northern cause and has no time for inherited titles or traditions. He thinks people should be  judged on their merits,  not on who their father happens to be.
  7. “Fix bayonets! Charge! He leaped down from the boulder, still screaming, his voice beginning to crack and give, and all around him his men were roaring animal screams, and he saw the whole Regiment rising and pouring over the wall and beginning to bound down through the dark bushes, over the dead and dying and wounded, hats coming off, hair flying, mouths making sounds, one man firing as he ran, the last bullet, last round.”

    p. 241 Colonel Joshua Chamberlain sets in motion the famous bayonet charge of the Twentieth Maine that routed the Confederates.
  8. “Tomorrow we will attack an enemy that outnumbers us, an enemy that outguns us, and enemy dug in on the high ground, and . . . if we win that one it will not be because of the tactics or because we are great strategists, or because there is anything even remotely intelligent about the war at all. It will be a bloody miracle.”

    p. 267 Longstreet speaks to Fremantle the night before Pickett’s Charge. He disagrees with Lee’s decision to attack the center of the Union line.
  9. “All right now, boys, for your wives, your sweethearts, for Virginia! At route step, forward, ho!”

    p. 342 Armistead inspires his men at the beginning of Pickett’s Charge, on the final day of the battle.
  10. “General Lee, I have no Division.”

    >p. 354These words are spoken by General Pickett after his division has suffered huge casualties in Pickett’s Charge. He is speaking to Lee, who has just ordered him to reform his division.

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