The Killer Angels

The Killer Angels

by

Michael Shaara

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The Killer Angels: Thursday, July 2, 1863: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Fremantle struggles awake and joins the other foreign observers for breakfast, reflecting on what a joy it is to be with “the winners.” He feels at home among the Southerners, who are so like Englishmen. After sunrise he rides to headquarters and watches the generals consult with one another. He is proud to consider them “our people” and hopes they might someday rejoin the Queen, under whose rule many officers have insisted they would be happier.
Fremantle continues to idealize the South and its culture through the lens of his own aristocratic position—and, accordingly, he assumes that “his” side are the winners. As an observer, he finds the war like more of a game.
Themes
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Sorrel passes by and encourages Fremantle to stay near Longstreet, as that is where the action will be. Longstreet lets Fremantle ride with him as he and John Bell Hood speculate about the size of the Union force. Fremantle knows “with the certainty of youth and faith” that these men cannot possibly lose; they are “the gentlemen against the rabble.”
Fremantle’s estimation of the war has little basis in reality. Like Lee, he grounds his assumptions on faith. He assumes that the Confederates will win because they are “gentlemen,” not because of their actions in the field.
Themes
Honor Theme Icon
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Fremantle asks Longstreet why his men have not entrenched, as there is nothing to stop the Yankees from attacking. Longstreet and Hood laugh, then Longstreet sobers and tells Fremantle that Meade is not the type to attack, and he has only just arrived and is without his full force. Eventually Fremantle takes his leave of Longstreet and joins the other European observers
Ironically, Fremantle sees entrenchment as a viable option, while most of the Southern generals have rejected it. To them, the idea that the South would entrench or that Meade would make an offensive attack is laughable.
Themes
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Fremantle thinks about America, the contrast between its vastness and extremes and its cultural affinities with England. He considers democracy to be a failed experiment—“in not much more than a generation they have come back to class.” He is sure that pretenses to equality will have disappeared within 50 years, along with the embarrassment of slavery.
Fremantle continues to think about America as a kind of second-rate England that is in the process of shedding its absurd notions of equality. Ironically, even with his old-world assumptions, Fremantle finds slavery to be a shameful holdover.
Themes
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
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Fremantle further muses that Southerners have the same love of tradition, form, and breeding as Europeans do, but the North does not. This, he thinks, is what the war is really about. Northerners do not respect the Old Country and have only the aristocracy of wealth. He wonders if he has stumbled upon a profound theory. He asks a nearby Major if “Longstreet” is an English name. The Major replies that it’s actually Dutch. The theory is not without its exceptions, Fremantle decides.
Fremantle thinks that the Northern rabble have an inferior form of aristocracy that doesn’t fit culturally with the “old country” mode embraced by the South. Humorously, he decides that Longstreet, with his surprising lack of English roots, is simply an exception to his “novel” idea.
Themes
Honor Theme Icon
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
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