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MONDAY, JUNE 29, 1863 (PART I)
"Monday," the first and shortest of the book’s four sections, introduces the reader to the circumstances directly before fighting begins. A Confederate spy tells Lee of the nearby Union brigades and Lee decides to make towards the town of Gettysburg; Chamberlain successfully adopts the mutineers thrown upon his Union division and continues to march north; Buford’s Union cavalry runs into "blind" Confederate infantry (blind meaning they have no cavalry scouts) just north of town and establishes a defensive position; and Longstreet’s Confederate infantry makes their way east to get involved in the fledgling Gettysburg conflict.
WEDNESDAY, JULY 1, 1863 (PART II)
"Wednesday" sees the Confederate victory over the Union defenses just north of town, the Union establishment of new defenses south of town, and internal disputes in both camps. Lee debates whether to attack the Union position or swing around between the enemy and Washington; Buford holds out against the Rebel infantry until Reynolds arrives with support; by a stroke of luck Lee’s reinforcements arrive in perfect position to flank Reynolds’ line and the Union troops retreat from the heights north of town to the hills south of town; Chamberlain’s men march through the night to reach Gettysburg; Longstreet discusses the new face of defensive warfare and the role honor plays with Fremantle; Lee receives Ewell and Early’s explanation for allowing the Federals to retreat to the hills south of town; and Buford is confronted by the dispute between Hancock and Howard on his way to receive orders after a long day of battle during which his cavalry unit was decimated.
THURSDAY, JULY 2, 1863 (PART III)
"Thursday" sees the Union victory at Little Round Top and Lee’s plans for the next day: a valiant attack at the Union center. Fremantle theorizes that the Civil War came about because the South is like a transplanted Europe whereas the North despises the Old World; Chamberlain comes upon a black man and reflects on the ethics of slavery and the institution’s role in starting the war; Longstreet reluctantly attacks the Union’s left flank; Chamberlain defends the Union’s extreme left flank against Longstreet’s assault; Longstreet broods over his loss at Little Round Top and Stuart’s return; and Lee reprimands Stuart and makes the decision for a final attack at the center of the Union line.
"Friday" sees the failure of Lee’s grand plan to charge the Union center; the Rebels are forced to retreat and must give up their invasion of the North. Chamberlain moves his men from the vulnerable extreme left to the safety of the center of the Union line; Longstreet debates with Lee over the need to fight a defensive war but Lee wants to end the war here and now; Chamberlain is caught under the storm of Rebel artillery that precedes Pickett’s Charge; Armistead leads his men alongside Pickett and reaches the Union wall only to be beaten back by overwhelming numbers; Longstreet watched the disillusioned Rebels retreat; and the victorious Chamberlain looks over the battlefield and watches the rains come.