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Military History: The Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg is probably the most famous battle among all land engagements that were fought between the Union and the Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. There were about 97,000 soldiers from the Union Army, and they confronted more than 75,000 men belonging to the Army of Northern Virginia. The battle was one of the biggest land battles in American history, and it was fought in a small town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg was also the goriest battle in the American Civil War, where more than 50,000 soldiers lost their lives and tens of thousands others were injured. The battle began on the 1st of July, 1863. The Union Army of the Potomac was led by General George G. Meade while General Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia.

Robert E. Lee had planned to wage war in the northern parts of America. One of his plans was to destroy the railroad bridge in Harrisburg. On the 1st of July, 1863, the Confederate soldiers attacked the Union forces on the McPherson Ridge. They defeated the cavalry division of General Meade, and as a result, the Union soldiers were driven back. On the second day, the two opposing forces drew the battle lines. They formed two arcs that were almost a mile apart. The Confederate troops were positioned on the Seminary Ridge, while the Union soldiers were lined up on the Cemetery Ridge. Nonetheless, a lack of communication among the Confederate troops proved to be costly, and they were pushed further back.

The climax of the Battle of Gettysburg occurred on the third day. General George E. Pickett of the Confederates made a daring attempt to recapture some of the terrain that they had lost the previous day. He led 15,000 valiant soldiers across an open field towards the Union center, which was stationed on the Cemetery Ridge. The Union cavalry unit responded by firing artillery and rifle shots. Although some of the troops managed to reach the Cemetery Ridge, they were overpowered by the Union soldiers in the end. About 10,000 men were killed in less than an hour, and this intrepid but unsuccessful attempt by General George E. Pickett is remembered as the Pickett?s Charge. 

The Battle of Gettysburg ended with the failure of the Pickett?s Charge. The Confederates lost the battle, and they retreated on the 4th of July, 1863. The Civil War raged for two more years, but the Battle of Gettysburg will be forever etched in history as one of the turning points of the war. It is also considered as the costliest battle of the Civil War. Four months after the battle, Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous speech, The Gettysburg Address, on the 19th of November, 1863. The speech was a poignant tribute to the thousands of soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in the famous Battle of Gettysburg.

For more information on the Battle of Gettysburg, please visit the following sites:

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