Essay about An Angel of War: Lawrence Chamberlain

Submitted By jleasure10
Words: 1486
Pages: 6

“What a piece of work is man… in action how like an angel!” (119).
Every man, no matter what they are fighting for, no matter what race, are angels in their battles. Whether it is a physical war, an uphill charge for one’s rights, or even a battle for freedom, every man is an angel in action. Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain knew this. In a midst of The Battle of Gettysburg, with 15,000 men charging uphill with the intent of destroying him and the rest of his army, Chamberlain recognizes the absolute beauty of the commitment that this sacrifice requires; the men’s lives. In this battle he also exhibits extreme courage, when he pulls a knife in a gun fight, rather, bayonets in a musket fight. When the Colonel’s troops have run out of ammunition, He conducts a charge down Little Round Top to try to hold the flanks in the Union line. In the novel The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, Colonel Chamberlain is used to invoke the concept that having little pride in oneself, yet having complete pride in all those who surround oneself, will result in recognition, wisdom, and quite often, victory. Chamberlain is a man motivated by the idea that “this hasn’t happened much in the history of the world. [They’re] an army going out to set other men free,” (30). He is consistently saying that all men deserve freedom. None should be judged by the color of their skin, “no man has to bow. No man born to royalty. [In America] [a person] is judged by what [they] do, not by what [their] father was. [In America] [a person] can be something,” and no one has the right to stop them (30). Throughout the novel he is continuously motivated by the same idea that a person is a person, no matter the color of their skin. At one point he recalls a time before the war, a conversation with a southern pastor, an opposition of views. The pastor tells Chamberlain that his Negroes are his property, just as his horses are his property. Lawrence retorted “that a man is not a horse,” the pastor then replied that “that was the thing [northerners] didn’t understand, that a Negro was not a man,” (177). This memory fuels Colonel Chamberlain’s fire of rage at what had been done to the blacks. Every man was undeserving of these words of judgment and animosity that came from the mouth of a pastor. Lawrence Chamberlain is motivated by the view that all men deserve freedom. No man has to relinquish their pride and humanity, only because they are a different color. Chamberlain is extremely unique in that he tries to keep himself equal to his men. As a Colonel, he is not required to do this. Any other officer would hold their authority and authorization to distribute punishments over their men’s’ heads, but not Colonel Chamberlain. At the beginning of the novel his regiment is burdened with a crowd of mutineers form the Second Maine Brigade. He has been told that if they fail to obey orders he has permission to shoot them. He knows deep down that if he did kill men from Maine, his home, he’ll never be able to return home without the overwhelming shame and guilt every time he comes across a grief stricken family. Even though he knows that deceiving these men into believing that he will shoot them will preserve his control over them, he opts to tell them the truth. He says, upon first meeting, “I’ve been told if you don’t come I can shoot you, well, you know I won’t do that, not Maine men,” (29).He is accentuating that he will not parade his rank over theirs. He is swallowing his pride and allowing them to know that they have the chance to turn a new leaf in his regiment, not just be thought of as “those troublesome boys from the Second Maine”. Later on he is tempted to ask “if the General would part with some chicken, and then felt ashamed, because his boys had none,” Lawrence is starving, and bleeding profusely, yet, so are his boys (306). So, why should Lawrence have it better than his men? Because he is a colonel while they are only privates? They risk their lives as