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CHAMBERLAIN (Chapter 4 of Part II)
A break from the action at the front, Chamberlain’s long march to Gettysburg.
As Chamberlain’s men march through Maryland and into Pennsylvania, Tom Chamberlain tells one of the ex-mutineers about the division.
Colonel Josh Chamberlain, still suffering from heat-stroke, overhears his brother and considers the unexpected joys of rough army life. When his thoughts turn to the horrors he experienced at Fredericksburg, he distracts himself by thinking about his recent promotion to Regiment Commander, his parents, how pleasantly cool it was back in Maine, and how unpatriotic it is that he feels at home everywhere.
Tom Chamberlain continues talking to the ex-mutineer about how the regiment got sick after being inoculated and wasn’t engaged at Chancellorsville.
Because of Buford and Reynold’s call for reinforcements, Colonel Chamberlain must force his men to march well into the night. Finally, just after midnight, they reach the town.
"There down in the dust like a huge blue snake came the whole Fifth Corps along the winding road." (p.115)
"Tom turned eyes as sad as a trout." (p.120)
"The moon was rising,...gazing like one single vacant eye." (p.123)
"It was quieter now. No one was talking. Sound of troops at route step, shuffle in the dust, dull clink of mess kits, a band in the distance, tinny, forlorn, raw call of a cow in the sunlight." (p.121)
"Now there were more people and they were much more friendly and the band struck up ‘Yankee Doodle.’ Now the farmers began to hand out free food." (p.115)
Man: The Killer Angel
Chamberlain had been reciting an excerpt from Shakespeare’s Hamlet ("What a piece of work is man...in action how like an angel") and his father, overhearing him, commented, "Well, boy, if he’s an angel, he’s sure a murderin’ angel." And Chamberlain had gone on to school to make an oration on the subject: Man, the Killer Angel.
"Isn’t it amazing? Long marches and no rest...and there’s a marvelous excitement to it...[But remember] Fredricksburg...Piled up bodies in front of you to catch the bullets, using the dead for a shield: remember the sound? Of bullets in dead bodies? Like a shot into a rotten leg, a wet thick leg. All a man is: wet leg of blood...Love that too? Not love it. Not quite. And yet, I was never so alive." (p.118)
Chamberlain confronts the horrors and the wonders of war. Note the line about man being naught but a wet leg of blood.