The Battle of Gettysburg
by: Bobby McDonald
The Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, fought on July 1st - 3rd, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is often described as the "turning point" of the War. Union Maj. General George Gordon Meede's Army of the Potomac, defeated attacks by Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's "invasion of the North."
Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley, for this second invasion of the North, hoping to reach as far as Harrisburg or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to influence the Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war. Maj. General Joseph Hooker had moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved of his duty just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.
The two armies began to collide at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee concentrated his forces there. On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union lines were laid out in a defensive formation resembling a "fishhook." Lee launched heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fiece fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. Full-scale assaults escalated on Culp's Hill and at Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.
On the third day of fighting, July 3rd, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12, 500 Confederates against the center of the Union Line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett's Charge. The charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great losses to the Confederacy. Between 46,00 and 51,000 Americans were casualties in the three-days of fighting at Gettysburg.
Breakdown of Troops
Gen. George C. Meade Commanders Gen. Robert E. Lee
93,921 Soldiers 71,699
23,055 Casualties 23,231
3,155 Killed 4,708
It was in November of 1863, that President Abraham Lincoln came back to Gettysburg and delivered the now famous Gettysburg Address:
"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation,
conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the poposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived
and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come
to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that
that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this
ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our
poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the
unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us
to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we
take increase devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion --
that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under
God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for
the people, shall not perish from the earth."