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MonkeyNotes-The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
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BUFORD (Chapter 2 of Part II)

Buford’s risk pays off with a victory over Heth, at a cost

Heth’s brigade (of Hill’s corps) throws itself at Buford’s defenses a few times before realizing that they are up against an organized force, not just local militia. After suffering considerable losses, Heth sets up his own cannon to respond to Buford’s artillery and the battle becomes less one-sided.

Buford, taking into account the fact that the Rebel’s reinforcements are much closer than his own, considers withdrawing, but at that moment Reynolds arrives with his infantry. Reynolds’ two fresh infantry corps quickly move into place, replacing Buford’s two battle-worn brigades of cavalry. Moments later, Reynolds is killed by a sniper’s bullet.



"The firing spread all down the line like a popping fuse." (p.86)

"He could see enemy troops moving in the fields across the way, spreading out as they came down from the road, like a gray river spreading where it reaches the sea." (p.90)

"If Heth was efficient and deliberate he had the power to come straight through like an avalanche." (p.90)

"There were moments in smoke when he could not see and thought the line was going; one time when a shell burst very close and left him deaf and still and floating, like a bloody cloud." (p.91)

"Buford could feel them giving, like a dam." (p.91)

"An immaculate man [Reynolds], tidy as a photograph." (p.92)

"It came over Buford like a sunrise that he had just received Reynolds’ greatest compliment." (p.95)

Dramatic irony:

"If whoever was out there attacking him had any brains he would probe this position first and find out what he was attacking." Buford’s thoughts are amusing because the reader knows that Heth (the attacker) has no intention of stopping and in fact thinks he is against local militia. It’s also amusing to read about (supposedly severe) grand historical figures calling each other names.


"He saw speckles of yellow fire through the mist: winking guns." (p.88)

Show to Tell:

"Then he heard that ripply sound that raised the hair, that high thin scream from far away coming out of the mist unbodied and terrible, inhuman. It got inside him for a suspended second. The scream of a flood of charging men: the Rebel yell." (p.88)

"The thick stain had already puddled the dirt beneath his [Reynolds’] head...He was dead." (p.96)

Irony (Understatement):

" ‘The Rebs will be here this afternoon with everything they’ve got." Buford said nothing. Gamble sniffed cheerily. "Just thought I’d mention it." (p.89) This is comparable to you telling a friend, "Oh, by the way, the news said that China has officially declared war on us and should be bombing us sometime this afternoon." Gamble’s statement proves him to be either very brave, numbed by war, or both.


"Reynolds sat astride the horse in a motionless calm, looking out toward the fight, picture of a soldier, painted against the trees." (p.93)


"Buford got one last glimpse of Reynolds...A moment later Buford looked that way and the horse was bare- backed. Buford did not believe it." (p.96) Foreshadowing of Reynolds’ death.

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MonkeyNotes-The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara


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