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Gods and Generals Study Guide & Plot Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 56 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Gods and Generals.
This section contains 577 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Gods and Generals Study Guide

Gods and Generals Summary & Study Guide Description

Gods and Generals Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Gods and Generals by Jeffrey Shaara.

Plot Summary

Gods and Generals stands as one of the most enjoyable examples of historical fiction in recent history. The book follows four of the most influential military commanders of the American Civil War. They are Robert E. Lee and Thomas Jonathan Jackson, fighting for the South and Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain and Winfield Scott Hancock, fighting for the North. We are introduced to these men in the years just prior to the war and goes until the days just before the decisive Battle of Gettysburg.

As the book begins when we find all of them a bit uncomfortable with life during peace time. However, the peaceful life does not last for long. State's rights, slavery, and the vast cultural gulf between north and south all contribute to the national turmoil, which eventually breaks out in full fledged civil war.

At the start of the war, Lee takes a rather thankless post as commander of Virginia's militia. As his troops are combined with the Confederate army, he finds himself with little to do. Jackson and Hancock are both given brigade commands for their respective armies and Chamberlain becomes a lieutenant colonel in the 20th Main regiment.

The Battle of Bull Run, which is the first battle of the war goes in favor of the south, but the advantage does not last. Before long, the confederate capital of Richmond is threatened by the Union army under McClellan. After the Southern commander is killed the Confederate president, Jefferson Davis, confers command of the army to General Lee.

After this there is a series of thrilling confrontations. The southern forces are consistently outnumbered and under supplied, but they defeat the Union Army repeatedly. Lee, with Jackson as his right hand general, wins at the Seven Day's Battle, the Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredricksburg.

While the southern commanders enjoy incredible successes, Hancock is forced to watch his commanding officers bumble and fumble the battles. He is an excellent officer, but not high enough in rank to truly change the course of the war. At Antietam his entire division is put in a useless position and never sees any action. When the army is stuck on the wrong side of a river at Fredricksburg he finds a way across, but cannot convince his commanders to use it.

Chamberlain is the only character with no military experience before the war. He was a professor of "Natural and Revealed Religion" and takes some time getting used to leading his troops. He is put in full command of his regiment during the midst of the battle of Fredricksburg, leading his men to within one hundred yards of the enemy before getting pinned down.

The climax of the book is the Battle of Chancellorsville. The new commander of the Union Army, General Hooker, outflanks the confederates and catches General Lee off guard. With half of his army over a hundred miles away, Jackson is Lee's his only reliable general. They plan an audacious flanking attack of their own and collapse Hooker's army into a near panicked retreat.

As the fighting at Chancellorsville stretches into the evening, Jackson is accidentally shot and mortally wounded by his own men. In the final days before the imminent battle of Gettysburg, we witness him slowly succumb to his wounds and the infections brought on after amputation. The final chapter of the book shows that Lee decide to invade the north to gamble everything in order to end the war.

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This section contains 577 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Gods and Generals Study Guide
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Gods and Generals from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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