Gods and generals Essay

This essay has a total of 927 words and 5 pages.


Gods and generals





The American Civil War was a military conflict between the United States of America (the
Union), and 11 secessionist Southern states, organized as the Confederate States of
America (the Confederacy). It was the culmination of four decades of intense sectional
conflict and it reflected deep-seated economic, social, and political differences between
the North and the South. Many books have been written on this “first modern
war” describing how over 620,000 men were killed. Jeff Shaara goes deeper and
explores the personal conflicts of four historical figures, two from the South and two
from North: General Lee, General Jackson, Colonel Chamberlain, and Hancock.

Robert E. Lee’s story began with a dilemma; he had to decide whether to stay to
fight with the army he has been serving for 30 years or to resign and go to Virginia to
defend his home. Life in the army had ruined his life, “He had missed a
father’s great joy of watching his children grow and learn... [and] try not to think
about what his career had done to his family.” (Pg. 11) Throughout Part 1, Lee
feels something missing from inside him: the feeling of action, of war. While in Texas,
General Winfield Scott asks Lee to serve as second in command of the Union Army, but due
to the possibility that Virginia could also secede, he declines. Still yearning for
action, he accepts the command of the Provisional Army, the defense forces for the state
of Virginia. He goes on to recruit Major Thomas Jackson, Jackson replies by saying,
“If they do not run, then they die.” (Pg. 135)

“I will do whatever I must to defeat my enemies.” (Pg. 135) This describes
Major Jackson’s general attitude towards war and towards God. Jackson is extremely
pious and does all he can to please God and to follow His path. Newspaper coverage of his
battles quickly publicized him and the title Hero was given to Jackson. Throughout the
war, Jackson shows dedication, going beyond his orders and chasing away his enemies. He
also shows an immense concern for his troops, he “had seen the bare feet, the bloody
impressions, and he felt a deep pain, a sadness.” (Pg. 289) His men were shabby
compared to the forces of Hancock and Chamberlain.

Winfield Scott Hancock, named after General Winfield Scott, has the talent of making
himself “indispensable in any assignment he is given...” (Pg. 5) Due to this
talent, he is the best suited to take the role of Quartermaster. After various locations,
he is transferred to California, where his story begins. Like Lee, he feels he belongs on
the battlefield, and not in an office. Hancock visits General McClellan and is told,
“We need leaders, Mr. Hancock. I believe that includes you.” (Pg. 160) And
so, his duty is now assigned.

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