Author: Michael Shaara

Previously a prolific writer of science fiction and sports stories, Michael Shaara (1928–88) was inspired to write The Killer Angels, his Pulitzer Prize-winning historical novel, after discovering letters written by his great-grandfather, who had been injured at Gettysburg as a member of the Fourth Georgia Infantry, and after personally visiting the battlefield. Shaara’s narrative is organized into four days—June 30, 1863, the day on which Union and Confederate armies move into Gettysburg; and July 1, 2, and 3, the days of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War—and each day’s events are told from the perspective of one of the commanders of the competing armies. 


Michael Shaara
Although courage usually grows only through repeated acts in the face of fear and danger, inspiring speeches can rally groups of men on the eve of battle. This selection—excerpted from The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (1928–1988), an account of the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil War—and General George S. Patton’s Speech to the Third Army exemplify two such inspiriting speeches, in some ways similar, in some ways different.