The Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1- July 3, 1863 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This particular battle was the most bloodiest battle of the Civil War. General George Gordon Meade was the Union's general and he had 93,921 men. General Robert E. Lee was the Confederates general and he had 71,699 men. This hard fought battle was a Union victory.

Before the Battle Began


The Battle of Chancellorsville was fought on May 1-5, 1863 right before the Battle of Gettysburg. Even though Lee only had 60,000 men he still won the battle against Hooker's 125,000 men. After Lee had won the Battle of Chancellorsville, a month later he again attacked the North. As the Confederates were marching up to Pennsylvania the Union rushed to intercept them.

The Days of the Battle


The First Day

July 1, 1863 Meade's army saw one of Lee's units in the town of Gettysburg. Lee was spread out in three different columns traveling across the farmland. Meade set up his army on a hill called Cemetery Ridge while Lee tried to gather his men. Lee had set up his men on a ridge about a half a mile away. The center of the Confederate's army was on Seminary Ridge. This was what happened over the first day.

The Second Day

On the second day was when the fighting actually begun. Lee was the first to order an attack on the Union forces. The armies were stationed about a mile apart from each other. Lee ordered his general, Longstreet, to attack at 10 a.m. but Longstreet didn't actually attack until 4 p.m. which gave the Union time to get ready. Longstreet attacked the south side of the Union forces while General Ewell attacked the north side around 6:30 p.m. His attack went into the night and ended around 10:30 p.m. when the two sides decided to stop for the night and regroup. The Union still held position atop a hill called Little Round Top.
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The Third Day

July 3, 1863 was the third and last day of the battle. At 1 p.m. the south opened fire on the Union's center line trying to weaken them, but this ultimatley did little damage. Then as a desperate attempt to win the battle, the Confederate army lead an infantry assualt of 15,000 troops across an open field towards the center of the Union army on Cemetery Ridge. After marching a mile through the bullets the North showered on them, they reached (but failed to break) the Union's line. After 50 minutes of fighting 10,000 of the Confederate assualt became casualties. This attack was later referred to as Pickett's Charge because General Pickett was the one who lead the Confederate army.

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The Fighting Comes to an End



July 4th Lee began his retreat that afternoon. The town of only 2,400 people was left with over 51,000 casualties from the battle. "Over 172,000 men and 634 cannon had been positioned in an area encompassing 25 square miles. Additionally, an estimated 569 tons of ammunition was expended and, when the battle had ended, 5,000 dead horses and the other wreckage of war presented a scene of terrible devastation," The Confederate army was exhuasted after such a battle and Lee said that he would never again order an attack of that size. Meade on the other hand, was criticized for not following Lee's army and destroying him then and there.
The war raged on for two more bloody years but the south never really recovered from the Battle of Gettysburg.


Resources


"American Civil War". http://americancivilwar.com. 25 October 2008 <http://americancivilwar.com/getty.html>

"Battle of Gettysburg". http://www.historyplace.com. 1996. The History Place. 25 October 2008 <http://www.historyplace.com/civilwar/battle.htm>

Garraty, John A. The Story of American. Austin, TX: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1994.

"The Gettysburg Campaign". http://civilwarhome.com. 25 October 2008 <http://www.civilwarhome.com/gettyscampaign.htm >