The Killer Angels Questions and Answers
by Michael Shaara

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Is General Longstreet wrong to obey Lee's orders, even though he disagrees? Would it have been better for Longsteet to try to convince other generals to change Lee's mind? And why doesn't Longstreet try to take command from Lee?

General Longstreet was not wrong, exactly, to obey Lee's orders. To do otherwise would have been seen as gross insubordination. Because Lee had not yet lost a major battle, other generals may not have wanted to contradict him. Longstreet didn't try to take command from Lee because he was a relatively new general. The troops would not have respected him in the same way.

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James Longstreet (1821–1904) was a Confederate general during the Civil War. He was a capable battlefield commander. He was not, however, as aggressive or as popular as Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson (1824–1863). The inimitable Jackson served as General Robert E. Lee's second in command until his death at Chancellorsville in May 1863. Longstreet assumed Jackson's role for the decisive three-day battle at Gettysburg. The Confederacy's loss there doomed it to eventual defeat. Longstreet's performance at Gettysburg, especially on the third day, has been the subject of much debate among historians. Many students of the battle have speculated that the South could have won if Longstreet had performed as well as Jackson might have. But Jackson's performance is just speculation, since he was dead by then.

First, Longstreet had to obey Lee's orders at Gettysburg. Good soldiers must obey or the chain-of-command breaks down. He had no choice but to follow Lee's directives. In addition,...

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