Battle of Gettysburg - Important Battles Throughout History

The Gettysburg Civil War monument, Gettysburg, PA.
The Gettysburg Civil War monument, Gettysburg, PA.

5. Background

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought in 1863 from the 1st to 3rd of July. This battle was fought in around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania by the Confederate and Union forces during the American Civil War. The Union forces were represented by the Potomac Army commanded by George Meade and the rival Confederate Army commanded by Robert E. Lee. Potomac overcame attacks by the Confederate, and this ended Lee’s attempt of invading the North.

4. Makeup of the Forces

The Union forces were led by major general George Meade, and consisted of more than 100,000 men, who were further divided into seven corps. Different generals commanded these corps.

Richard Edward Lee organized the Confederate forces into three divisions. The second corps were led by Lieutenant General Richard. Lieutenant General A. P. Hill commanded the remaining group of corps. These corps had divisions led by different generals.

3. Description of the Engagement

Lee wanted to begin his second attack on the North after his accomplishment in Chancellorsville in May of 1863. The two armies collided at Gettysburg and Lee commanded his forces to engage the Union’s army that was guarding the town. At this attack, the Confederate forces assaulted the Union army from the north making them retreat to the South. The second day came, and both the soldiers assembled again with the Union army going on defensive strategy. On this day, Lee hurled a massive attack on the left wing of the Union’s army, and this triggered a fierce fight. Despite the damages, Union defenders did not lose their lines. Fighting resumed on Hill of Culp on the third day. 12,500 Confederates charged into the center of the Unions, and this was heavily repulsed by the Unions, leading to a significant loss by the Confederates. This defeat led to Lee’s army retreating to Virginia.

2. Outcome

The two armies suffered numerous casualties amounting to approximately 51,000 casualties. Lee’s general officers were the ones who suffered the heaviest losses. Lee had to evacuate its army from the town, and they retreated to Virginia. The Unions reacted happily to the victory. This marked the end of the Siege of Vicksburg, and the Grand’s Federal armies were surrendered.

1. Historical Significance and Legacy

There is a historical controversy as to how decisive the victory should be viewed. Often, it is viewed as a turning point as there was no more attacks from Lee after this win. Before Gettysburg, Lee had the reputation of winning all his victories even against superior numbers. Historians attribute his loss to being over confident in this battle as well as health issues. The Battlefield has been preserved by the National Park Service of the U.S as historical landmarks. Meade left a legacy for defeating Lee who had previously been thought of as invincible.


More in Politics