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Longstreet is the book’s main character on multiple levels. He is a realist pragmatist.
The non-gentleman Confederate: one of the few Generals not from Virginia, he is at odds with the gentlemanly Lee and Stuart.
A quiet man who is tormented by his dead children and cannot find God.
The representative of warfare’s new defensive tactics.
Right-hand man for Lee, for whom he has mixed feelings. On one hand Longstreet greatly admires the old man and all but worships him when God cannot be found, on the other hand he cannot forgive Lee for making the mistake of charging the Union position at Gettysburg.
The pillar of Lee’s army: with Jackson gone, Longstreet is Lee’s most competent general.
JOSHUA LAWRENCE CHAMBERLAIN
Chamberlain’s unfamiliarity with the army make him easy to sympathize with. He is an idealist pragmatist.
The officer with a professor’s mind: Chamberlain is very philosophical and often considers why he is fighting.
Believer in the Divine Spark: Chamberlain doesn’t seem like the pious type, but he doesn’t agree with Kilrain’s theory that some men are worth no more than dogs.
Part of the army family: Chamberlain treats his men with respect and sees Kilrain as a father-figure. At the same time, Chamberlain has problems with his real family--he misses his wife but knows he will never be fully satisfied with civilian life.
ROBERT E. LEE
The flawed God of the Confederate army. He is an idealist gentleman.
Pious to a fault: Lee has no vices but relies too much on God by not taking into account his ability to alter that which seems inevitable (slavery, Pickett’s charge).
The glue of the Confederate army: the rebels are undermanned and underfed, and lack sufficient artillery, guns, and clothes. Yet because of Lee’s leadership, they have been victorious against the Army of the Potomac up until Gettysburg.
A hasty risk-taker: Lee is not like cautious Longstreet. His failing health combined with the knowledge that the Union army is constantly growing stronger make him eager to strike fast and hard.