The Battle of Gettysburg

The Turning Point

What is it?

The Battle of Gettysburg was a Civil War battle that happened in Pennsylvania.

It happened on the days of July first to July third of 1863. (Three days long)

The battle was fought painstakingly in Pennsylvania by General George Meade of the Union, and General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy.

(Top right is Big Round Top and Little Round Top.)

Why is it important?

This particular battle was a large turning point in a war. They South had tried to invade before, at Antietam, MD, and the Union won, but almost didn't.

This was the second time the Confederacy had tried to invade the Union. They lost horridly. This battle ended all hope the Confederacy (South) had of invading the Union (North). The Confederacy never regained its strength, going on to lose the war overall.

What happened? (Day One)

On this day, the two armies clashed just outside of Gettysburg, PA.

The sound of battle was heard by surrounding troops, who came to join the fight.

By midday the fight was roaring on.

The Union had created a three-mile long, fish-hook shaped line running from Culp's Hill on the right flank, along Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge to the base of Little Round Top.

The Confederates held their six-mile long arc battering the Union defenses, not yet ready to give in.

Both sides were pushed back to regroup at the end of the day, neither coming with enough men to supply the battle.

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What Happened? (Day Two)

The fighting continues, Lee tries to attack Meade's forces at Culp's Hill and Little Round Top, failing to move the Union forces.

General James Longstreet (Confederacy General) has been blamed for the eventual defeat of the Confederacy that day, for he delayed just enough for the North to get reinforcements realigned at Cemetery Ridge before attacking again.

Although, still not having higher ground, the South did take The Peach Orchard that day by fault of Northern General Daniel Sickels.

At the end of this day, still not gaining higher ground, Lee regrouped his forces to make one last push against the forces of the Union.

What Happened? (Day Three: Pickett's Charge.)

Confederate General George Pickett led the last charge against the Union.

It was the largest fight of the war.

In the days leading up to this, the South battered flanks of the Union lines, but were not strong enough to make it through.

Lee had made the decision to attack the center of the forces of the North.

The South pressed hard artillery on the North bombarding them with unfriendly fire, but as they climbed Cemetery Ridge they began breaking into small segments and not staying united as one mass force, thus leading to their failure.

Lee retreats to Virginia, with staggering casualties, never to attempt an invasion of the North again.

Casualties and Damage:

Lee lost approximately 28,000 of his 75,000 men

The northern casualties stood around 22,000.

This damaged the amount of men Lee had to fight with, upon being regularly short of other material supplies, the morale was low. The South retreated with its tail between its legs and never returned to full height.

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The Gettysburg Address:

This was a very short, extremely revered speech of only 272 words, given by President Abraham Lincoln on November 19, 1863.

Dedicating part of the battlefield to lost Union men, who " gave the last full measure of devotion" for their cause.

Thus creating the memorial cemetery at Gettysburg, PA.

Although, Lincoln was not the main event, Edward Everett was. The man gave a two-hour long speech.

FUN FACTS and things to remember:

  • Lincoln did NOT write the address on the train, or on an envelope. It was prepared, but it was revised before it was given. (original copies can be fond in the library of congress)
  • The Gettysburg Address essentially said the same thing as Everett's speech, just in 1/60 of the time.
  • Some say that Lee attacked Gettysburg for shoes at a nearby factory. There is no evidence to support this, it was chosen because there were ten main roads into it so it was easy find and navigate.
  • Confederate soldiers are not buried in the memorial in Pennsylvania, most of the confederate soldiers are located at Hollywood Cemetery, in Richmond, Va.
  • This was a Union DOMINATION over the South, even though it was an invasion of the North.
  • Since it was such a victory for the Union, it is considered the turning point of The Civil War, the South was winning until this.
  • The South never recovered from this loss.