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The Battle of Gettysburg

On 3 Jul 1863, the 3rd day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Pickett’s charge, Gen Robert Lee’s last attempt at breaking the Union line, ended in disaster, ending most decisive battle of our Civil War.

On 1 July, Confederates marched into Gettysburg hoping to seize supplies but finding Union cavalry. Thus began the battle; Lee and Meade ordered their armies to converge. The Yanks held the field against overwhelming numbers until they were reinforced. By mid-afternoon 19,000 Yanks faced 24,000 Rebs. Lee attacked and forced the Yanks back to Cemetery Hill, just south of town.

Over night, the rest of the Yanks arrived. At 4 pm on 2 July, Gen James Longstreet led the main Confederate attack against the Union left. After 3 hours, the battle ended with 35,000 dead; the Union forces held.

On 3 July, Lee ordered a massive bombardment of the Union positions; there followed the heaviest cannonade of the war. At 3 pm, Gen Geo Pickett led his 15,000 men against the Union center & found that Lee’s bombardment had failed. As the Rebs tried to cross the mile to Cemetery Ridge, Union artillery hit them hard. Meanwhile, Yankee infantry flanked the Rebel main body & began cutting down the Confederates. Only a few hundred Virginians reached the Union line; within minutes they all were dead or captured. In less than an hour, more than 7,000 Confederate troops had been killed or wounded.
Both armies were exhausted; when Lee withdrew the next evening the Yanks were too weak to pursue.

This was the turning point in the Civil War, costing the Union 23,000 and the Rebs 25,000 casualties. On 19 Nov 1863, President Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address at the dedication of a new national cemetery there. The Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of General Lee’s Army in April 1865.

No one in their right mind likes war. But I thank God that this war was fought and won.

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