What are two major themes in "The Killer Angels?" How do they compare and contrast to US History?

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ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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One of the main themes of “The Killer Angels” is the different beliefs about the cause of the war.  Both the North and the South believed they were right in the beliefs that they fought for.  The Northern Army believed they were fighting to free the slaves. 
The Southern Army did not think the war was about slavery they were fighting for state's rights. 

“We established this country in the first place with strong state governments . . . to avoid a central tyranny.”

In the history of the United States there has always been disagreement about the cause of war.  The present conflict in Iraq is a good example.  Many believe we are fighting to free the Iraqi people from tyranny, while another portion of our population believes we are in this conflict so we can control the oil and the profit from the oil in that region. 

Another major theme is the concept of war being God’s will or human will.  During the Civil War, General Lee believed that what he was doing was God’s will. “He believed in a Purpose as surely as he believed that the stars above him were really there.” When he hears news of the Confederate's victory on the first day, he thinks it was God’s will and offers a prayer of gratitude.  Yet, some of his generals and troops did not agree,  Longstreet was quoted:

 “[I]t isn’t God that is sending those men up that hill.” In other words, it is a human decision, one that could have been made differently. Not everything is predestined or fated to be the way it is. Humans also have responsibility.” 

We have the same argument today.  One part of our society thinks our presences in Iraq is a “righteous” stand, while another segment believes this involvement is a choice made by man for profit.

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