Battle of Gettysburg
Battle at Gettysburg / Gettysburg Battle / Battle Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest of the major Civil War battles. The 3-day battle took place from July 1-3, 1863 in a small town in Pennsylvania named Gettysburg. The Union was victorious and it was apparent after the Battle at Gettysburg that the Confederates couldn't penetrate the North.
It was considered to be the turning point of the Civil War and the Confederates would be forced into a defensive strategy for the remaining two years.
After a Confederate victory in Virginia at Chancellorsville in May, General Robert E. Lee decided to invade the North for a second time in the war. The Confederate Army made their way up the Shenandoah Valley north toward Pennsylvania. Lee hoped a victory in the north would put pressure on politicians in Washington to lose favor in the war and he hoped to penetrate as far as Philadelphia or Harrisburg.
Gettysburg Day 1 - July 1, 1863
Fierce fighting ensued on the ridges west of town
Gettysburg Day 2 - July 2, 1863
Coordinated Confederate attacks fail
Gettysburg Day 3 - July 3, 1863
A desperate Confederate assault on the Union center
The southern army was mirrored by Major General Joseph Hooker in charge of the Union army. President Lincoln encouraged Hooker to pursue the Southern army from Virginia yet grew disgusted with his lack of aggression. Lincoln replaced Hooker with General George Meade just 3 days before the battle.
Word got to Lee that the Union army was close and after reviewing maps of Gettysburg, he decided to converge all his forces there to engage and destroy the Union army.
Gettysburg Day 1
A union cavalry division however reached Gettysburg before the Confederate infantry and what started out as a minor skirmish, quickly developed into a major fight, the Battle of Gettysburg. The Union cavalry division was able to defend the high ground by taking up position on the northwest of town. They were reinforced later that day by two Union Corps.
The Confederates organized quickly, mounted a strong attack and were able to break the hastily developed Union lines and push them back through past the Gettysburg seminary and through town. Strong defensive stands by units like the Iron Brigade made the Confederate advance tough at times. They were eventually successful but didn't follow up on their success and the Union troops reorganized on the heights south of town near Cemetery Ridge.
Gettysburg Day 2
The second day of the battle at Gettysburg began with a Confederate assault on the left flank of the Union defenses which commanded the heights, and resembled the shape of a fishhook. Heavy fighting ensued at Devil's Den, Little Round Top, The Wheatfield and the Peach Orchard. The 20th Maine held off a determined attack on the extreme left by the 15th Alabama that highlighted the day's fighting. Later in the day, the Confederates attacked on the Union right and had minor success, but couldn't break the Union lines.
Gettysburg Day 3
On the final day there was early morning fighting on Culp's Hill on the Union right but neither side gained an advantage. An indecisive cavalry fight ensued on East Cavalry field with no advantage to either side. The Confederates carried out a major assault on the Union center around midday with over 12,000 troops under General James Longstreet known as Pickett's Charge. The Union center held and the Confederates suffered catastrophic losses that forced them into a quick retreat to preserve the remainder of the army.
The two armies combined suffered between 46,000 to 51,000 casualties in the 3-day Battle of Gettysburg marking the bloodiest engagement of all American Civil War battles.
Gettysburg Battle Summary
The Gettysburg battle summary provides a brief overview of what transpired between July 1-3, 1863. We recommend you view this page for a quick look at the battle.
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