Battle of Gettysburg

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Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg

Date: July 1 - July 3, 1863

Location: Gettysburg, PA

Result: Union Victory

Union

Confederacy

Fatalaties: 3155

Fatalities:3903

George Gordon Meade was one of the few Union generals who began his life and career in a foreign country. Born in Cadiz, Spain, Meade came to America after he and his family were financially ruined during the Napoleonic Wars. He received an appointment to the United State Military Academy, in 1831, and attended the school primarily as a result of his financial situation. He graduated 19th out of 56 members of the class in 1835 and served briefly during the Seminole War before retiring. He worked for some time as a civil engineer until 1842, when he asked to be reinstated to the army, and was appointed a second lieutenant in the Corps of Topographical Engineers. He served with the corps in New Jersey and Florida, constructing breakwaters and lighthouses. During the Mexican-American War, he was present at the battles of Resaca de la Palma, Palo Alto, and Monterey, but saw no major combat. He returned to topographical work after the war in 1857 near the Great Lakes until his services were again called upon at the outbreak of the Civil War.

Born to Revolutionary War hero Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee in Stratford Hall, Virginia, Robert Edward Lee seemed destined for military greatness. Despite financial hardship that caused his father to depart to the West Indies, young Robert secured an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated second in the class of 1829. Two years later, he married Mary Anna Randolph Custis, a descendant of George Washington's adopted son, John Parke Custis. Yet with for all his military pedigree, Lee had yet to set foot on a battlefield. Instead, he served seventeen years as an officer in the Corps of Engineers, supervising and inspecting the construction of the nation's coastal defenses. Service during the 1846 war with Mexico, however, changed that. As a member of General Winfield Scott's staff, Lee distinguished himself, earning three brevets for gallantry, and emerging from the conflict with the rank of colonel.

Day 1When he learned that the Army of the Potomac was on its way, Lee decided to assemble his army in the town of Gettysburg, PA. One of A.P. Hill's Confederate Divisions was on its way to Gettysburg for supplies. However, two Union cavalry brigades had been there just the previous day. These two armies managed to drive the outnumbered Federal army out of the region back to Cemetary Ridge. Using this advantage, Lee ordered Ewell to attack the Union position at Cemetary Hill. However, Ewell deemed this plan unwise and decided against it. Day 2Lee's army attempted to flank the Union position at Culp's Hill and Cemetary Ridge. However, their position was too strong. Both armies suffered heavy losses, as this was the bloodiest day of the battle. Day 3Believe that he had been on the brink of victory the day before, Lee tried to carry on this momentum. He sent three divisions to the Union position assuming that the opposition was now greatly weakened. However, the Union was in a very favorable position and had help from divisions from surrounding regions as well. This resulted in utter demolition fo the Confederate forces as only one-third of them were able to return. The rest had died.

Aftermath

The Battle

Lee expected a counterattack from the Union on July 4, however, that never came. He withdrew what was left of his army to Virginia. The battle was a crushing defeat for the Confederacy. Demoralized by this loss, Lee submitted his resignation to President Jefferson Davis. However, this was denied. Altough Lee did go on to win more battles, the loss at Gettysburg, coupled with the loss at Vicksburg turned the tides of the war greatly in favor of the Union.

Gen. George G. Meade

Gen. Robert E. Lee

Map of Battle


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