Two Histories Analyzed

The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, reminded me of the stories I heard about the Korean War. The political conflicts split up the nation in two.

Both the Civil War and the Korean War led to the separation of numerous families and friends – neighbors were pointing guns at each other and millions were dying off everyday for years. As I read this book, I questioned the values, objectives, and causes for the war, as well as the sacrifices the people made for the war. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Colonel of the 20th Maine Infantry Regiment, made huge sacrifices for the sake of the war. He was an amazing intellect; he was great at school, he could sing very well, and he spoke seven different languages. As the war broke out, he lied to his school, Bowdoin College, that he is going on a Sabbatical to France, then joined the Union Army to fight in the War.

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So many intellects like Josh Chamberlain gave up their talents, careers, and the nation’s bright future for the sake of war. As his brother, Thomas Chamberlain, joined the army as well, Josh got more weight on his shoulders. Other than taking care of his men, he now also had to take care of his own brother. Although Chamberlain acted calm and composed in front of his younger brother, he knew that he would one day have to send his own brother to death. Leaders like Joshua had to let go of personal ties and relationships, even their own family members, in order to win the war. Comrades and friends turned their backs and pointed guns at each other as well.

Lew Armistead and Winfield Hancock were old friends – the two served together at the New San Diego Garrison under Albert Sidney Johnston. As the war broke out, Hancock joined the Union whereas Armistead joined the Confederacy. The camaraderie between soldiers is an eternal bond like no other; to take opposing sides at war knowing they will face with guns pointed at each other is a terrible feeling. As Armistead left to join the Confederacy, he said to Hancock, “Hancock good-by; you can never know what this has cost me, and I hope God will strike me dead if I am ever induced to leave my native soil, should worse come to worse”. The war split the two apart forever, and they faced each other on the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

As Armistead and Garnett charged at Hancock and his troops, both Hancock and Armistead were severely injured. Armistead died due to the injury, and as he lied on the battlefield, As Armistead was lying on the field, injured, he told Bingham, “Tell General Hancock for me that I have done him and you all an injury which I shall regret the longest day I live”. Hancock’s grievances show us how hard it would have been for him to fight against one of his best friends. The Civil War gave hope and freedom to many, and in the long run helped America become the symbol of freedom. However, it came with a huge cost – not only huge economic costs, but also the huge sacrifices that numerous people made.