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By: Savannah Bayles

DAY 1

On July 1, the two sides soon clashed on McPherson Ridge. The skirmishes became more gruesome even as reinforcements arrived. They were able to stand their ground until afternoon, being overpowered by additional southern troops; the Union soldiers were pushed back through Gettysburg.


Amongst the confusion of retreating, thousands of Union soldiers were taken captive before they could rally on top of Cemetery Hill. That night the Union soldiers got into position.

DAY 2

On July 2, Lee’s armies attacked again. The majority of both the Union and Confederate armies were fighting as close as 1 mile apart on two parallel ridges. The Union forces fought upon Cemetery Ridge, and the Confederate troops were gathered on Seminary Ridge. During some of the fiercest fighting of the war, the Confederates were able to accomplish some minor successes.


Although advised not to, Lee ordered an attack on the Union. General Lee had thought that the previous attacks had greatly weakened the Union forces. Yet, he was wrong. This move only lead to thousands of wounded and dead soldiers, which were left in Wheatfield and Plum Run (now known as Bloody Run).


On July 3, the Rebels spent the whole morning and part of the afternoon preparing and moving into position for the charge. At one o’clock in the afternoon, the South opened fire with their big guns, cannons, and weapons. Union cannons answered back, leaving the battlefield shrouded in blinding smoke and dust. The Yankee soldiers watched in amazement as about 14,000 Confederate soldiers formed an orderly line that stretched for a mile, and marched to Cemetery Ridge.


“Pickett’s Charge,” became known as one of the most incredible efforts in military history. The Confederates were suddenly being hit by cannons that were using grapeshot’s (a shell containing iron balls that flew apart when fired) and deadly accurate rifle volleys. Union soldiers later recalled that they could hardly even fire a shot without hitting a Confederate soldier. Bravely, the survivors form the hail storm of bombs continued moving forward, until they were close enough to charge.

 With

the failure of Pickett’s Charge, the Battle of Gettysburg was over. On the afternoon of July 4, 1863, Lee’s men retreated, loaded up their wounded into wagons and rode away, leaving their dead soldiers behind. As they left, this small town of only 2,400 was devastatingly left with approximately 3,155 dead Federal soldiers and 3,903 Confederate soldiers killed.

 There

were 14,529 wounded and mortally wounded Federal soldiers and 18,735 Confederate soldiers wounded. Yet, there were 5,365 Federal soldiers missing and 5,425 Confederate soldiers missing. This was a total of 23,049 losses for the Union army and 28,063 losses for the Confederate army.


The Confederate army that staggered weakly back from the Battle of Gettysburg was physically, spiritually, and mentally exhausted. General Lee would never again be able to attempt, or even think about another offensive strategy that called for such daring and drastic measures. General Meade of the Union army, though criticized for not immediately pursuing Lee’s army after having retreated, had carried the day in the battle that is now known to us as the turning point of the Civil War.


On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln gave his powerful speech. It has become known as the “Gettysburg Address.” Those who attended the event, had to endure a long two hour speech from Edward Everett, and surprisingly enough, not many recall or wish to recall his speech.


Although Lincoln’s address was a short and simple two minute talk, it is considered by many to be the most powerful statements ever. The audience then was stunned by the inspiration of his speech, and still the world today remains in awe of his words.


*Lest we forget what occurred during this destructive and horrible war, reminders sadly but firmly guide us back into perspective during those times when we succumb to the temptation to completely romanticize this and any other distant event. Although inarguably this war gave birth to near infinite examples of heroism and compassion, there was also indescribable and unrelenting slaughter and destruction on a mammoth scale. In the Gettysburg National Cemetery alone, over 3.500 lay in rest who perished during the desperate struggles of this war. That so many returned to these fields after such tremendous loss, seeking to honor their dead, speaks to the need to remember and learn from this moment in our history.

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http://www.geobop.com/World/NA/Topics/History /Civil_War/reference/gettysburg/ http://americancivilwar.com/getty.html http://home.epix.net/~rplr.gettys1.htm http://www.rockingham.k12.va.us/EMS/Gettysbu rg/Gettysburg.html http://www.civilwarhome.com/gettysbu.htm Back to home page Savannah.HTM To essay about the Battle of Gettysburg The Battle of Gettysburg.doc

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