Battle of Gettysburg


On July 1-3, 1863, the two armies fought the most celebrated battle of the war, which resulted in 46,000 to 51,000 casualties in this single battle alone.
Robert E. Lee (the Confederate commander) proposed an invasion of Pennsylvania early in the siege of Vicksburg to direct Union troops’ attention to the North and remove pressure from the lower Mississippi. Lee thought that if the Confederacy could manage to win a major battle on Northern territory, then England and France might come to their aid.

The picture above is a battle scene, depicting the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the United States Army, which defended Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg, charging across enemy lines.
The picture above is a battle scene, depicting the 20th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment of the United States Army, which defended Little Round Top during the Battle of Gettysburg, charging across enemy lines.

In June 1863, Lee’s troops and the Union Army of the Potomac moved parallel to each other to the north into Pennsylvania and met at the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Lee attacked the Union army (commanded by George C. Meade) despite the fact that he was outnumbered 75,000 to 90,000, and his first assault on the Union failed.

His second attempt, Pickett’s Charge, was larger but not much more successful: 15,000 Confederate soldiers advanced across a wide-open field while being swept by Union fire. Only 5,000 soldiers made it up to the ridge, only to have to either surrender or retreat. By that time, Lee had lost one-third of his army and on July 4 (which was the same day that the Confederacy surrendered at Vicksburg), Lee and his troops withdrew from Gettysburg and retreated back to Virginia.

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This picture illustrates Union and Confederate soldiers in Gettysburg.
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This picture shows Confederate and Union movements on July 3rd.
This battle was a major turning point in the war because the Confederacy was never again able to seriously threaten Northern territory.
Also important: after the Battle of Chattanooga, the Confederacy could only hope to win the war by holding on and exhausting the North’s will to fight, not by wining battles or by using strategic offense as they had once thought could win them the war.

As the Battle of Antietam was seen as a lost opportunity to the north, the Battle of Gettysburg is often considered a lost opportunity to the south because of a series of failures of Lee’s subordinates. Had Lee gained a decisive victory, it is believed that the war could have ended in the Confederacy’s favor.

The Gettysburg Address, given by President Lincoln on November 19, 1863, honored the American soldiers who had died during the Battle of Gettysburg and served to redefine the purpose of the Civil War.

Sources

1st picture: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Battle_of_Gettysburg,_By_Currier_and_Ives.png
2nd picture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gettysburg_Campaign.svg
3rd picture: http://www.ng.mil/resources/photo_gallery/heritage/twentiethmaine.html

For Further Reading…

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/gtburg.htm
http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/battle.htm