58 pages 1 hour read

Michael Shaara

The Killer Angels

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1974

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Character Analysis

Robert Edward Lee

Lee, 57, is commanding general of the Army of Northern Virginia. He is only five-foot-seven, but because he has short legs, he looks much taller in the saddle. He has white hair and a white beard and dresses in a plain gray uniform. He is a symbol of the South because he is a gentleman: he is honest, doesn’t drink (or have other vices), and has a deep faith in God. He doesn’t believe in slavery, yet he loves his home state of Virginia, so he resigns his commission in the US Army and joins the Confederacy when Virginia secedes. Because of his gentle nature and unmatched skill in battle tactics, he is beloved in both armies and countries around the world.

Lee feels the effects of age and knows that his health is beginning to fail. Longstreet can see it, but Lee acts as if he is well, refusing to show that his heart is weakening. When he is alone, he shows his frailty, though others can see it in moments of stress or exhaustion. He has a strong sense of duty to the men in his army and cares deeply about them, especially his closest commanders like Stonewall Jackson, who died two months before the Battle of Gettysburg, and James Longstreet.