The Battle Of Gettysbury Essay, Research Paper
The Battle of Gettysburg
The battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the American Civil War.
When looking at the causes of the Civil War, and eventually the Battle of Gettysburg, one
must understand the differences between the differences between the North and the South.
The South was fighting the war because they believed that the government treated them
unfairly. They believed that the government overtaxing them, with tariffs and property taxes.
On the other hand the North was fighting the war for two reasons. first to keep the Nation
together and second to abolish slavery.In almost every category: manufacturing, amrywise and
moneywise the North was better off. This set the stage for a very monumental battle we now
The battle of Chancellorsville had just ended and during that battle General
Robert E. Lee made the historic decision to divide his already outmanned and outgunned Army
of Northern Virginia. Lee created three corps from his 75,000 men, which mad it easier for him
to accomplish more tasks in the same amount of time. Lee decided to the offensive role of the
battle by invading Pennsylvania and Maryland in an attempt to end the war quickly by
threatening the northern capitol and waging ?total war? on the Northern citizens. Unfortunately,
for Lee because of General Stuart?s joyriding he was left without and clue to the whereabouts,
intentions, strengths, or capabilities of the Union Army of the Potomac. Lee did not know that
Meade(a union commander) was marching straight for him with almost 82,000 men, and more
importantly, a competent and mission orientend calvary commander, John Buford.
July 1, 1863 was the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle begun
when some of General Ambrose Powell Hill?s advance brigades entered the small town of
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania looking for shoes. Because of General Stuart?s failure to complete
his mission of tracking the Union army, Hill?s troops encountered a Union calvary division
commanded by Major General John Bufford. During battle in front of Cemetery Hill,
General Hill encountered resistance from the Union forces which were trying to hold
the Confederates off until more Union troops could help them. The fighting went on until
General Richard S. Ewell arrived and forced the federal troops to retreat to better ground
southeast of Gettysburg. Although the Confederated won the day, Ewell made the mistake of
not allowing General Hill to force the Union forces further back leaving the Union with the
On the following day, July 2, General George Gordon Meade, commander
of the Union Army of the Potomac arrived, along with the majority of the army. He formed his
forces in a horseshoe formation, anchored at Big and Little Round Top on the west, Culp?s Hill
on the east, and dug in behind a stone wall along Cemetery Ridge. Determined to annihilate
the Army of the Potomac once and for all, and end the war swiftly, General Lee ordered an
attack. The attack was delayed time and time again, eventually kicking off just before
noon and failing soon after that. Confederate gains were limited to the Peach Orchard and a
sector of Culp?s Hill( soon to be lost to a Union counterattack). The second day concluded with
with planning for the third and final day. General Meade and the federal forces believed that an
attack would come, but expected an attack at the same place that it had happened earlier that
General Lee was determined to strike at the center of the Union army in the belief that Meade
would move most of his forces up the flanks that had been barely held on the second day.
The morning of July 3rd brought along little besides light firing by both sides.
Preparations for the South?s attack were delayed again, but the half hearted attack began around
noon with the infamous Picket?s Charge. Major General George Picket, a division commander
Longstreet, led roughly 13,000 men across hundreds of yards of open field, across a road and
a number of fences, and up the side of Cemetery Ridge, all the time while under fire from the
Union cannons. This assault and its achievements in the face of all odds are a incredible
tribute to the leadership of General Lee, Longstreet, and Picket. In mentioning the incredible
leadership of the Confederacy one must also mention the heroic stand of the Union troops, from
the first day and the dismounted calvary of John Buford to the third day and the combined
effort of the entire Army of the Potomac.
On the night of July 3rd, General Lee and the Confederate Army began there
retreat back to Virginia. During the costly three days the Union casualties were: 3,070 soldiers
killed, 14,497 wounded and 5,434 captured or missing. The Confederated suffered 2,592 deaths,
12,706 wounded and 5,150 captured or missing. Gettysburg had important psychological effects
also, demoralizing the South and causing the North to celebrate a great victory with Abraham
Lincoln?s Gettysburg Address. Although the casualties seem pretty equal, the Battle of
Gettysburg second and last great invasion of the North, for the South had neither the arms or
numbers to continue an assault, but the war dragged on for two more years.