Battle of Gettysburg

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Battle of Gettysburg
Pennsylvania Civil War History

Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg Overview

Other Names: None
 
Location: Adams County, Pennsylvania
 
Campaign(s): Gettysburg Campaign (June-July 1863); Lee's Second Invasion of the North (June-July 1863)
 
Date(s): July 1-3, 1863
 
Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. George G. Meade [US]; Gen. Robert E. Lee [CS]
 
Forces Engaged: 158,300 total (US 83,289; CS 75,054)
 
Estimated Casualties: 51,000 total (US 23,000; CS 28,000)

Result(s): Union Victory 

Battle of Gettysburg Map
Civil War Battle of Gettysburg Map.gif
Official Battle of Gettysburg Map

Battle of Gettysburg
"The Civil War in Its Third Year"

Introduction.
 
If Chancellorsville was arguably Lee’s finest battle, Gettysburg was clearly his worst; yet the reversal did not unnerve him or reduce his effectiveness as a commander. The invasion had patently failed, and on July 4 he began to retreat toward the Potomac. As that river was flooded, it was several days before he was able to cross. President Lincoln, naturally pleased over Meade’s defensive victory and elated over Grant’s capture of Vicksburg, thought the war could end in 1863 if Meade launched a resolute pursuit and destroyed Lee’s army on the north bank of the Potomac. But Meade’s own army was too mangled; and the Union commander moved cautiously, permitting Lee to return safely to Virginia on July 13. It was Lee's second and final invasion of the North.
 
Both Union and Confederate forces were too exhausted for further attacks. Both sides had fought hard and with great valor. Among 90,000 effective Union troops and 75,000 Confederates, there were approximately 51,000 casualties. The Army of the Potomac lost 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded, and 5,365 captured or missing. Of the Army of Northern Virginia, 3,903 were killed, 18,735 wounded, and 5,425 missing or captured.

Lee, as he looked over the desolate field of dead and wounded and the broken remnants of his once-powerful army still ready for renewed battle, must have realized that not only was Gettysburg lost, but that eventually it might all end this way. Meade did not counterattack, as expected. The following day, July 4, the two armies lay facing each other, battered and torn.
 
Late on the afternoon of July 4, Lee began an orderly retreat. The wagon train of wounded, 17 miles in length, guarded by Imboden's cavalry, started homeward through Greenwood and Greencastle. At night, the able-bodied men marched over the Hagerstown Road by way of Monterey Pass to the Potomac. Roads had become nearly impassable from the heavy rains that day, hindering the movements of both armies. Meade, realizing that the Confederate Army was actually retreating and not retiring to the mountain passes, sent detachments of cavalry and infantry in pursuit and ordered the mountain passes west of Frederick covered. Lee, having the advantage of the more direct route to the Potomac, reached the river several days ahead of his pursuers, but heavy rains had swollen the current and he could not cross. Meade arrived on the night of July 12 and prepared for a general attack. On the following night, however, the river receded and Lee crossed safely into Virginia. The Confederate Army, Meade's critics said, had been permitted to slip from the Union grasp.

The Three Day Battle of Gettysburg
The Three Day Battle of Gettysburg.jpg
Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

Summary.
 
Gen. Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia, during the Gettysburg Campaign, concentrated his full strength against Maj. Gen. George G. Meade’s Army of the Potomac at the crossroads county seat of Gettysburg. On July 1, Confederate forces converged on the town from west and north, driving Union defenders back through the streets to Cemetery Hill. During the night, reinforcements arrived for both sides. On July 2, Lee attempted to envelop the Federals, first striking the Union left flank at the Peach Orchard, Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Round Top's with Longstreet’s and Hill’s divisions, and then attacking the Union right at Culp's and East Cemetery Hills with Ewell’s divisions. By evening, the Federals retained Little Round Top and had repulsed most of Ewell’s men. During the morning of July 3, the Confederate infantry were driven from their last toe-hold on Culp’s Hill. In the afternoon, after a preliminary artillery bombardment, Lee attacked the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. The Pickett-Pettigrew Assault (more popularly, Pickett's Charge) momentarily pierced the Union line but was driven back with severe casualties. Stuart’s cavalry attempted to gain the Union rear but was repulsed. On July 4, Lee began withdrawing his army toward Williamsport on the Potomac River. His train of wounded soldiers stretched more than fourteen miles. (See also Pennsylvania Civil War History.)
 
Background.
 
Fought during the first three days of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most critical battles of the war and occurred at a time when the fate of the nation hung in the balance, the summer of 1863. Despite promising victories on the battlefield in 1862, the Union cause had suffered several reversals most notably in the eastern theater. The Confederacy's most victorious army, the Army of Northern Virginia, had successfully thwarted numerous Union threats against the Confederate capitol of Richmond. Outnumbered and out gunned, this army, under the guidance of General Robert E. Lee, had won strategically important victories at Fredericksburg in 1862 and Chancellorsville, Virginia, in May 1863. By that June, Lee's army enjoyed a surge of confidence in itself having frustrated the much larger Union Army of the Potomac, and the high casualties that resulted cast a pall over the North. President Lincoln had appointed commander after commander to no avail- Lee defeated each and every one. There was one bright spot for the Union cause that summer- the Union Army under General Ulysses S. Grant had encircled Vicksburg, Mississippi, the last great Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River and it was assured to fall into Union hands. The Battle of Vicksburg was extremely critical; however, President Lincoln and his Confederate counterpart Jefferson Davis knew all too well that events in Virginia were going to decide the outcome of the conflict.

Recommended Reading: Gettysburg, by Stephen W. Sears (640 pages) (November 3, 2004). Description: Sears delivers another masterpiece with this comprehensive study of America’s most studied Civil War battle. Beginning with Lee's meeting with Davis in May 1863, where he argued in favor of marching north, to take pressure off both Vicksburg and Confederate logistics. It ends with the battered Army of Northern Virginia re-crossing the Potomac just two months later and with Meade unwilling to drive his equally battered Army of the Potomac into a desperate pursuit. In between is the balanced, clear and detailed story of how tens-of-thousands of men became casualties, and how Confederate independence on that battlefield was put forever out of reach. The author is fair and balanced. Continued below.

He discusses the shortcomings of Dan Sickles, who advanced against orders on the second day; Oliver Howard, whose Corps broke and was routed on the first day; and Richard Ewell, who decided not to take Culp's Hill on the first night, when that might have been decisive. Sears also makes a strong argument that Lee was not fully in control of his army on the march or in the battle, a view conceived in his gripping narrative of Pickett's Charge, which makes many aspects of that nightmare much clearer than previous studies. A must have for the Civil War buff and anyone remotely interested in American history.

Gen. Hooker
General Hooker.jpg
(LOC)

General Robert E. Lee was not ready to sit idle and wait for the next Union thrust after Chancellorsville. He had communicated with Richmond for several months on his desire to make another invasion of the North and by late May saw an opportunity to take the initiative while Union forces appeared to be in disarray. Lee's objectives were quite simple: take the war out of Virginia so that the land could recover, a necessary measure to provide relief to farms and farmland devastated by battle and foraging armies, and to gather supplies for his hungry army. His army's movement north of the Potomac River would not only force the Union Army out of Virginia, but hopefully also draw Union troops away from the ongoing Siege of Vicksburg. Once his army had raided Northern territory, he could gather his troops for battle in an advantageous area, force the Union to attack and General Lee could counterattack at will. Politically, Lee reasoned a conclusive victory on Northern soil would add weight to the growing Northern peace movement, apply pressure to the Lincoln administration to end the war and sue for peace, and provide sufficient reason for official recognition of the Confederacy by European powers. Only the political diplomacy of the Lincoln administration had kept England and France from recognizing the Southern government as an independent nation. Lee's argument was reasonable to Jefferson Davis and though the Confederate president was nervous about Richmond not being fully protected by Lee's forces, he approved the plan.
 
While Lee's army made preparations to march, the Army of the Potomac rested in their old winter camps opposite Fredericksburg while its commander, Major General Joseph Hooker, wrestled with innumerable predicaments. Not only were Lee's intentions perplexing Hooker, his relationship with War Department officials in Washington had become almost hostile. The flamboyant Hooker had rebuilt morale and discipline in the army after the disastrous "Mud March" in the winter of 1863, and in late April brilliantly moved the bulk of his forces around Lee's army concentrated at Fredericksburg. Despite the Union advantage, Lee and his top general "Stonewall" Jackson, countered Hooker's strategy and soundly defeated him. Hooker's bluster and bravado before the campaign meant nothing after his miserable failure at the Battle of Chancellorsville. Many in the War Department had lost faith in the general's abilities, including President Lincoln who soon believed Hooker unsuited to contend with Lee.

Hooker approved a plan to probe Lee's defenses and on June 9, the army's cavalry under General Alfred Pleasanton made a surprise attack on General "JEB" Stuart's cavalry camps near Brandy Station, Virginia. Pleasanton's troopers surprised Stuart, but withdrew when Confederate infantry were sighted approaching the battlefield. From this information, Hooker realized that Lee's forces were no longer concentrated in front of him at Fredericksburg. Yet, indecision seemed to strike General Hooker again. He waited for nearly a week before ordering his troops to break camp and then marched cautiously northward, keeping his army between Washington and the suspected Confederate route of march. By this time, Lee's troops had already defeated a Union force at Winchester, Virginia, and crossed the Potomac River into Maryland.
 
"It has been said that the morale of an army is to numbers three to one. If this be true, the Army of Northern Virginia was never stronger than on entering Pennsylvania that summer." - General Henry Heth

Confederates ford Potomac River
Confederates on the March.jpg
(Battles & Leaders)

Despite the loss of "Stonewall" Jackson, the Army of Northern Virginia was never stronger both in manpower and high morale than in the summer of 1863. "It was an army of veterans," recalled A.H. Belo, Colonel of the 55th North Carolina Infantry, "an army that had in two years' time made a record second to none for successful fighting and hard marching." In mid-June, Lee's soldiers crossed the Potomac River and stepped into a rich land barely touched by the war. Except for some persistent Union cavalry units, the Southerners tramped along unopposed as militia units retreated from their path leaving the land and its residents to the mercy of the Confederates.
 
(Left) Confederates ford Potomac River. Drawn by Confederate veteran Allen C. Redwood. Battles & Leaders.
 
For Lee's men who had been living for months on reduced rations, Maryland and Pennsylvania were bursting with plenty. "I can hardly believe that a rebel army has actually left poor Virginia for a season," wrote Major Eugene Blackford of the 5th Alabama Infantry. "Of course there is no end of milk and butter which our soldiers enjoy hugely." Encounters with the civilian population of Maryland and Pennsylvania made for good subject matter in letters home such as that of Private William McClellan of the 9th Alabama Infantry, who described Pennsylvanians as, "the most ignorant beings of the world. They don't care how long the war lasts so they are not troubled." Like many of his comrades, McClellan especially detested the females who, "would not look at a Rebel, they would turn up their nose and toss their heads to one side as contemp(t)uously as if we were high way Robers."

A meal on the march, by Allen C. Redwood
Confederater March.jpg
(Battles & Leaders)

"There's hardly any sickness or straggling in the army," added Private Eli Landers, 16th Georgia Infantry. "We have a large army now in Pennsylvania and it is good and in fine spirits. We intend to let the Yankey Nation feel the sting of the War as our borders has ever since the war began." Despite the feelings of retribution that Landers and his fellow soldiers had, on June 21, General Lee issued Order No. 72, which forbade the seizure or theft of private property. Federal property was another matter. Confederate quartermasters used their authority to seize Federal stores found in government warehouses, post offices, and railroad depots. Anything that was of use to the Southern army was quickly inventoried and carried away, much to the dismay of Federal authorities. Quartermasters also purchased needed supplies from merchants and privately owned storehouses. Soldiers begged for food from civilians and were often rewarded by farmers too frightened to refuse the Confederate money handed them in payment. Apart from some minor infractions, the Confederates obeyed General Lee's order and respected civilian property.

Confederates invade a Northern store
Confederates.jpg
(Harper's Weekly)

Yet, Northern store owners found themselves in a quandary when their shops were suddenly filled with armed men who helped themselves to boots and shoes before inspecting other goods the owner may have in stock. Cloth, hats, canned foods and other groceries were in high demand. Much to the storekeeper's dismay, the Confederates paid in Southern script that was worthless above the Mason Dixon Line. But most, however, accepted the Confederate paper hoping that it could be eventually exchanged for Federal notes. Many more were careful to hide some of their inventory before the Confederates arrived or be strangely absent with shop doors bolted when the dusty column of Confederates entered a town whose civilian population was already on edge from rumors of rampant thievery and towns burned to the ground. Many of these wild rumors centered on the feared "Louisiana Tigers", rumored by many Northerners to be the toughest Southern soldiers and the most lawless. Such was the case when the first Confederate column, commanded by General Jubal Early entered Gettysburg, demanding supplies and money. "After matters had been satisfactorily arranged between our Burgess and the Rebel officers," recalled Fannie Buehler who resided on Baltimore Street, "the men settled down and the citizens soon learned that no demands were to be made upon them and that all property would be protected. Some horses were stolen, some cellars broken open and robbed, but so far as could be done, the officers controlled their men. The 'Louisiana Tigers' were left and kept outside of town."

This first encounter was not without a bloody mishap. A small squad from the 21st Pennsylvania Emergency Cavalry was chased out of town and Private George Sandoe was shot and killed, the first official casualty of the coming battle. Early did not tarry for long in Gettysburg, but moved on toward York and Columbia where he was stopped by Pennsylvania militia that burned the bridge over the Susquehanna River. Meanwhile other Confederate forces had occupied a large area of south central Pennsylvania and some had even closed on Harrisburg, threatening the state capitol.
 
The slow pursuit of Lee by the Army of the Potomac not only alarmed War Department officials but shocked governors of Northern states who clamored for something to be done to stop the rebel invasion. Political pressure on the Lincoln administration added to the tug of war between General Hooker and the US War Department, which finally ended on June 28 as the Army of the Potomac concentrated at Frederick, Maryland. Completely frustrated by the mistrust and lack of support from War Department officials, General Hooker requested to be relieved of command, which was quickly granted.
 
Major General George Gordon Meade was ordered to take command of the army. "I have been tried and condemned", the surprised general remarked after receiving word of his appointment. Using traces of information known on Lee's whereabouts and objectives, Meade decided to send the army north to feel for the enemy and draw Lee into battle on a defensive line he wanted to establish on Pipe Creek, Maryland. The very next day, the Army of the Potomac marched out of their camps to search for the Confederates in Pennsylvania.
 
The Opening Shots.
 
On June 30, Confederate troops left their camps at Cashtown and marched toward Gettysburg in search of supplies. Upon reaching the edge of Gettysburg, scouts spied a column of Union cavalry south of town, closing fast. Under orders not to initiate a battle, the Confederates returned to Cashtown where they reported the encounter to their commander, Lt. General A.P. Hill. Hill agreed to send two divisions of his corps toward Gettysburg the next day to investigate the arrival of the mystery cavalrymen and the stage was set for the opening of the battle on July 1st, 1863.

Recommended Reading: Gettysburg--The First Day, by Harry W. Pfanz (Civil War America) (Hardcover). Description: Though a great deal has been written about the battle of Gettysburg, much of it has focused on the events of the second and third days. With this book, the first day's fighting finally receives its due. Harry Pfanz, a former historian at Gettysburg National Military Park and author of two previous books on the battle, presents a deeply researched, definitive account of the events of July 1, 1863. Continued below.

After sketching the background of the Gettysburg campaign and recounting the events immediately preceding the battle, Pfanz offers a detailed tactical description of the first day's fighting. He describes the engagements in McPherson Woods, at the Railroad Cuts, on Oak Ridge, on Seminary Ridge, and at Blocher's Knoll, as well as the retreat of Union forces through Gettysburg and the Federal rally on Cemetery Hill. Throughout, he draws on deep research in published and archival sources to challenge some of the common assumptions about the battle--for example, that Richard Ewell's failure to press an attack against Union troops at Cemetery Hill late on the first day ultimately cost the Confederacy the battle.

July 1, 1863 - Battle of Gettysburg Begins

"These were days of fear and uncertainty."

The first day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg (at McPherson’s Ridge, Oak Hill, Oak Ridge, Seminary Ridge, Barlow’s Knoll and in and around the town) involved some 50,000 soldiers of which roughly 15,500 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. The initial day in itself ranks as the 12th bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The battle began early on the morning of July 1 when a Confederate column under General Henry Heth, marching east from Cashtown, encountered Union pickets three miles west of Gettysburg. Opponents sparred over the gently rolling farmland west of Gettysburg, until the cavalrymen were forced back to McPherson's Ridge where Union infantry were just then arriving at 10 AM.

Fighting began that morning west of Gettysburg.
FIRST DAY AT THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG.gif
By late afternoon, the Union was in retreat.

Some of Heth's Confederates reached McPherson's Ridge where they were hit by a vigorous Union infantry counterattack and forced back. North of the Chambersburg Pike, other Confederates were briefly victorious before they, too, were counterattacked, many being forced to surrender in the Railroad Cut. One of the first officers to fall was Major General John Fulton Reynolds, commander of the Union First Corps, instantly killed as he led his troops into the fray.
 
A brief noon-time lull gave commanders on both sides time to plan and augment their battle lines. Union troops manned a jagged line extending from the McPherson Farm northward along Seminary and Oak Ridge with troops of the Eleventh Army Corps, which had just arrived, were deployed north of Gettysburg on the grounds of the county Alms (Poor) House. Confederate forces were arrayed against this line in heavier numbers, with more troops expected to arrive at any moment. The battle was renewed at 2 PM when Confederate forces attacked McPherson's Ridge and Oak Ridge. Union troops fought desperately, repulsing the attacks with heavy losses to both sides. General Lee arrived on the battlefield and though a battle had been initiated against his orders, he immediately saw an opportunity. Having already ordered his troops east of Gettysburg to concentrate near the town, Lee allowed the attack to continue knowing that the battered Union line would be pressured from three directions as soon as General Richard Ewell's Corps arrived from the direction of Dover, Pennsylvania.

After two hours of desperate fighting, it was apparent to General Abner Doubleday, commanding the First Corps after the death of Reynolds, that none of the ridges west of Gettysburg could be held and he ordered a fighting withdrawal to Seminary Ridge. North of Gettysburg, the Eleventh Corps was in a predicament with too few troops to defend a large area. Some Union regiments dissolved as Ewell's Confederates hit them from three directions at once while others valiantly fought back, losing scores in killed and wounded including General Francis Barlow being among the latter.

The Union line finally collapsed and thousands of Union soldiers pushed headlong through the streets, yards and alleys of Gettysburg, many taking refuge in outbuildings and churches already filled with the wounded and dying. Terrified citizens fled to their cellars while others risked their lives to help the injured. Those who could find their way to Cemetery Hill were met by General Winfield S. Hancock, sent to Gettysburg by General Meade, and reorganized into a line of defense from Cemetery Ridge to Culp's Hill. General Lee entered Gettysburg and located General Ewell who he requested him to continue his attack south of Gettysburg "if practicable". Unable to consolidate his forces before nightfall and with the threat of a large Union force on his left, Ewell deferred. The sounds of battle slowed to a murmer as night fell. Exhausted soldiers of both armies collapsed beside stone walls and fences, in fields and woods, and streets and alleys to wait for the fighting to resume on the morrow.

July 1 was a great victory for General Lee, but not a decisive one. Though the Union forces had been badly mauled, they had retreated to a strong position south of Gettysburg. General Meade arrived on the battlefield near midnight and after discussions with his corps commanders, decided to wait for the rest of his army to concentrate around Cemetery Hill. Come the morning of July 2, he would attack Lee or defend the prominent hills where his men now rested. Lee, meanwhile, seated in his headquarters tent on Seminary Ridge, pondered the growing strength of the Union position south of Gettysburg. If only he could hear from his cavalry chief J.E.B. Stuart and information he could provide about the remainder of the Union army.

The Second Day of Battle.

It was a restless night for both armies as troops marched to the field and generals plotted strategy. What had been a day of heavy fighting for both sides was just a preliminary to the events of July 2, "A most terrible day."

Recommended Reading: Gettysburg--The Second Day, by Harry W. Pfanz (624 pages). Description: The second day's fighting at Gettysburg—the assault of the Army of Northern Virginia against the Army of the Potomac on 2 July 1863—was probably the critical engagement of that decisive battle and, therefore, among the most significant actions of the Civil War. Harry Pfanz, a former historian at Gettysburg National Military Park, has written a definitive account of the second day's brutal combat. He begins by introducing the men and units that were to do battle, analyzing the strategic intentions of Lee and Meade as commanders of the opposing armies, and describing the concentration of forces in the area around Gettysburg. He then examines the development of tactical plans and the deployment of troops for the approaching battle. But the emphasis is on the fighting itself. Pfanz provides a thorough account of the Confederates' smashing assaults—at Devil's Den and Little Round Top, through the Wheatfield and the Peach Orchard, and against the Union center at Cemetery Ridge. He also details the Union defense that eventually succeeded in beating back these assaults, depriving Lee's gallant army of victory. Continued below.

Pfanz analyzes decisions and events that have sparked debate for more than a century. In particular he discusses factors underlying the Meade-Sickles controversy and the questions about Longstreet's delay in attacking the Union left. The narrative is also enhanced by thirteen superb maps, more than eighty illustrations, brief portraits of the leading commanders, and observations on artillery, weapons, and tactics that will be of help even to knowledgeable readers. Gettysburg—The Second Day is certain to become a Civil War classic. What makes the work so authoritative is Pfanz's mastery of the Gettysburg literature and his unparalleled knowledge of the ground on which the fighting occurred. His sources include the Official Records, regimental histories and personal reminiscences from soldiers North and South, personal papers and diaries, newspaper files, and last—but assuredly not least—the Gettysburg battlefield. Pfanz's career in the National Park Service included a ten-year assignment as a park historian at Gettysburg. Without doubt, he knows the terrain of the battle as well as he knows the battle itself.

July 2, 1863 - "A most terrible day..."

The Bloodiest Day of the Battle.

The fighting raged until after nightfall.
July 2nd, Battle of Gettysburg.gif
Lee attacked late in the afternoon, striking both Union flanks.

The second day was the largest and costliest of the three days. The second day’s fighting (at Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, Cemetery Ridge, Trostle’s Farm, Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill) involved at least 100,000 soldiers of which roughly 20,000 were killed, wounded, captured or missing. The second day in itself ranks as the 10th bloodiest battle of the Civil War.
 
By the morning of July 2, the Union army had established strong positions along a giant U-shaped line from Culp's Hill to Cemetery Ridge. Satisfied with this position, General Meade decided to wait while the remainder of the Army of the Potomac hurried to the battlefield. From Seminary Ridge, General Lee studied the distant Union position. Though the Union right flank appeared to be a difficult position to attack, the left flank did not appear to be anchored on any significant feature. Simultaneous attacks on both the right and left flanks could roll up the Union line toward Cemetery Hill. Lee directed General A.P. Hill to continue to hold the Confederate center while General James Longstreet's Corps would attack the Union left and General Ewell's Corps would attack the right. Both had to strike at the same time to throw the Union off balance, not giving Meade time to shift troops to the threatened areas.
 
Situated on the left of the Union line was the Third Army Corps under the command of Major General Daniel E. Sickles, an audacious and sometimes belligerent commander. Unhappy with the location assigned him and finding that Confederates were massed on Seminary Ridge almost a mile in his front, Sickles ordered his corps to advance away from the main Union line on Cemetery Ridge and occupy high ground on the Emmitsburg Road, midway between Cemetery Ridge and Seminary Ridge. In doing so, Sickles' unknowingly made Meade's established line vulnerable. Meanwhile, General Longstreet's column finally reached the southern tip of Seminary Ridge at 3:30 PM after an exhausting 18 mile march. The Confederates deployed along the ridge through Pitzer Woods and south along Warfield Ridge. The men only had a few moments to rest and search for water before they were called into line and the attack began.

At 4 PM, Confederate cannoneers opened fire on Sickles' line from Devil's Den to the Peach Orchard. Confederates under General John Bell Hood swung eastward toward Devil's Den while fighting erupted in the Wheatfield, at the Peach Orchard and on the slopes of Little Round Top. Bravery and gallantry saved Little Round Top, a key feature on the southern end of the Union line, but Union troops could not hold Devil's Den and the adjoining area, later known as the "Valley of Death". Nearby was the Wheatfield, where soldiers who fought there compared it to a "whirlpool" of tides and eddies that continually swept around the field. Over 6,000 officers and men from both armies were killed, wounded or captured in charge and counter-charge across that field and in the woods surrounding it. Fighting spread to the Peach Orchard, along the Emmitsburg Road, and up Cemetery Ridge. At the height of the attack, General Sickles was seriously wounded while near his headquarters. Carried from the battlefield on a stretcher, the general inspired those passing by him with encouraging words and a wave of his hat.

At approximately 6:30, General McLaws sent forward his Mississippi brigade commanded by Brig. General William Barksdale, who had waited impatiently with his men at Pitzer's Woods. The Mississippi attack rammed through Union regiments near the Peach Orchard and other Confederate units rushed from Seminary Ridge to exploit the break. The battered Union line wavered and slowly collapsed under the relentless Confederate pressure that swept across the Abraham Trostle Farm at the center of Sickles' line. Here the Southerners found themselves at the doorway of a sizeable gap in the Union line between Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top, held by a handful of Union artillerymen and one regiment of foot soldiers, the 1st Minnesota Infantry. The Minnesota regiment was about to do the impossible- stop the Confederate attack before they reached the center of Cemetery Ridge. The Minnesotans charged into the Confederates and succeeded in slowing their attack, but at a terrible cost. Union reinforcements arrived and drove the Confederates back, but not before they had threatened the Union line right up to its center.

Darkness put a grateful end to the slaughter and Meade used the lull to shore up the left with fresh troops. By 10 PM, the line had been reestablished on Cemetery Ridge and extended to Big Round Top, where Union troops built stone barricades up to its summit. Exhausted soldiers reformed behind stone walls and laid down for the evening, disturbed only by groans from thousands of wounded men on the battlefield or the occasional crack of a rifle.

The Battle For Culp's & Cemetery Hills.

Culp's Hill, July 2 & 3
Culp's Hill, July 2 & 3.gif
Battle of Culp's Hill

In cooperation with Longstreet's attack on the Union left, General Ewell opened his cannonade on the Union right flank at 4 o'clock, but an overwhelming response of Union artillery from Cemetery Hill delayed the infantry assault, designed to first strike Culp's Hill, the strong point of the Union right. Confederate infantrymen under General Edward Johnson encountered numerous difficulties getting into position and night had fallen by the time his men splashed across Rock Creek to climb the hill's wooded slopes. Suddenly they were struck by accurate and deadly Union rifle fire delivered by a single brigade of New York troops under Brig. General George S. Greene. Johnson's men scattered for cover though a portion of his force discovered abandoned earthworks above Spangler's Spring. Confused by the Union defense and believing that he was heavily outnumbered, Johnson decided to halt his attack to wait for reinforcements and then renew his assault the next morning.

Northwest of Culp's Hill, two Confederate brigades under General Jubal Early momentarily penetrated the Union defenses at Cemetery Hill. In the gathering gloom of dusk, "Louisiana Tigers" and North Carolina soldiers overran Union troops on the eastern side of the hill and rushed through to the summit into Union batteries stationed there. Union reinforcements rushed to the scene and immediately attacked with rifles and bayonets, throwing the Confederates off Cemetery Hill for good.

Union troops of the Twelfth Army Corps, pulled away from Culp's Hill on July 2, returned the following morning and attacked Johnson's troops before they could begin their attack. The roar of musketry was deafening. From the summit of the hill to the meadow near Spangler's Spring, combatants kept up a constant stream of rifle fire, showered all the while with leaves and branches cut from trees by bullets and shells. Unable to break the Union stranglehold on Culp's Hill, Johnson finally withdrew after six hours of continuous fighting, leaving the slopes covered with dead and wounded. By 11 AM on July 3, the Southern threat at Culp's Hill had ended.

Late into the night, both army commanders evaluated the results of a long and brutal day. Apart from the precious foothold on Culp's Hill, the Confederate gamble of simultaneous attacks had failed. Knowing that he could not sustain more than another full day of battle, a frustrated Lee was working at his headquarters when a smiling General "JEB" Stuart arrived. The smile quickly vanished when the disgusted army commander admonished Stuart for his long absence and failure to report Union movements in the weeks prior to the battle. Yet it was quickly back to the business at hand for Stuart's cavalry would fit prominently into Lee's strategy for the next day of battle. Meanwhile, General Meade held a "Council of War" at his headquarters on the Taneytown Road. Though the Union line had been restored by midnight there was still a sizeable Confederate force on Culp's Hill. Almost to a man, his generals agreed to stay at Gettysburg, retake and secure Culp's Hill, and then wait for Lee to attack. If he did not, then Meade should order a counterattack and force Lee to fight or flee. The Gettysburg Campaign was about to reach its climax.

"I will strike him there."

Was there still a chance for a Confederate victory at Gettysburg? General Lee firmly believed so. Though the Confederate attacks had not rolled up the Union flanks, Lee knew his army had enough resources for one more day of battle and one more effort. But where to attack? "I will strike him there," Lee told a subordinate- straight at the center of the Union line.

Recommended Reading: Gettysburg--Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill (Civil War America) (Hardcover). Description: In this companion to his celebrated earlier book, Gettysburg—The Second Day, Harry Pfanz provides the first definitive account of the fighting between the Army of the Potomac and Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill—two of the most critical engagements fought at Gettysburg on 2 and 3 July 1863. Pfanz provides detailed tactical accounts of each stage of the contest and explores the interactions between—and decisions made by—generals on both sides. In particular, he illuminates Confederate lieutenant general Richard S. Ewell's controversial decision not to attack Cemetery Hill after the initial Southern victory on 1 July. Pfanz also explores other salient features of the fighting, including the Confederate occupation of the town of Gettysburg, the skirmishing in the south end of town and in front of the hills, the use of breastworks on Culp's Hill, and the small but decisive fight between Union cavalry and the Stonewall Brigade. Continued below.

About the Author: Harry W. Pfanz is author of Gettysburg--The First Day and Gettysburg--The Second Day. A lieutenant, field artillery, during World War II, he served for ten years as a historian at Gettysburg National Military Park and retired from the position of Chief Historian of the National Park Service in 1981. To purchase additional books from Pfanz, a convenient Amazon Search Box is provided at the bottom of this page.

July 3, 1863 - "I will strike him there..."

The Most Memorable Charge of the War.

Cemetery Ridge
July 3rd, Battle of Gettysburg.gif
After Culp's Hill, Lee concentrated on breaking Union center.

The third day of fighting consisted of Culp's Hill, Cemetery Ridge, and two cavalry battles: one approximately three miles to the east, known as East Cavalry Field, and the other southwest of Big Round Top mountain on South Cavalry Field.
 
General Lee wished to renew the attack on Friday, July 3, using the same plan as the previous day: Longstreet would attack the Federal left, while Ewell attacked Culp's Hill. Before Longstreet was ready, however, Union XII Corps troops started a dawn artillery bombardment against the Confederates on Culp's Hill in an effort to regain a portion of their lost works. The Confederates attacked, and the second fight for Culp's Hill ended around 11 AM. Lee was forced to change his plans. Longstreet would command Pickett's Virginia division of his own First Corps, plus six brigades from Hill's Corps, in an attack on the Federal II Corps position at the right center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Prior to the attack, all the artillery the Confederacy could bring to bear on the Federal positions would bombard and weaken the enemy's line.
 
Intense fighting erupted on Culp's Hill at 4 AM on July 3, and by 11 AM Union troops had secured the hill, firmly anchoring the point of the Union "fishhook" line. With the loss of his advantage at Culp's Hill, Lee decided to alter his strategy. Having already ordered his cavalry chief, "JEB" Stuart, to ride around the Union position and attack the Union supply line, Lee decided to strike what he thought to be a weakened Union center on Cemetery Ridge where he observed few troops and only a handful of batteries. If this section of Meade's line collapsed, it would threaten the Union rear and those strong hill positions. He issued orders for a massive bombardment aimed at this area followed by an assault of 18,000 men, coordinated and commanded by his trusted corps commander General James Longstreet. Longstreet's Assault, better known today as "Pickett's Charge", would be Lee's last gamble at Gettysburg.
 
At 1 o'clock, two guns stationed in the Peach Orchard fired the signal to begin the bombardment. Over 120 Confederate guns on Seminary Ridge simultaneously exploded, sending shot and shell toward Cemetery Ridge. Startled Union artillerymen sprang to their guns and soon both ridges were covered with thick, acrid smoke. The pounding of the guns in the great duel shook the earth for nearly an hour, when the Union fire finally slackened. Longstreet reluctantly gave the order for the infantry to advance and nearly 12,000 Confederate soldiers began the long march toward the Union line. Suddenly the Union artillery came back to life, blasting the formations and cutting large swaths through them. As they reached the Emmitsburg Road, they were startled by the blast from hundreds of Union muskets. Officers were replaced by captains and sergeants, urging the men on until they reached "the Angle". Brig. General Lewis Armistead, the lone unscathed general of Pickett's Division, pierced the Union center, crossing the stonewall with about 300 men who raced into the remains of a Union battery and nearby grove of young trees, shrubs, and vines. This was the "High Water Mark" of the battle and, for the Confederacy, of the war.

North of the Angle, troops under Generals Pettigrew and Trimble reached the Emmitsburg Road to attack the Union line between Pickett's command and Ziegler's Grove only to meet a solid wall of musketry and artillery. Groups of Confederates leapt the fences and forged ahead, the size of each melting away as they surged up the slope toward the terrible stonewall that literally boiled with fire and smoke. None would pierce the Union line in this area. All along the line the attack ground to a halt and those who were able, turned back to Seminary Ridge. Pickett's Charge had failed.

General Meade rode onto the scene just as the last shots died away. A staff officer approached and informed the general that the Southerners had been whipped. His army had done the unthinkable- beaten Robert E. Lee and the best troops he could throw at them. The tired general managed to utter a hoarse "Hurrah!", then rode on to inspect the line.

General Lee witnessed the Southern tide crest. Afterward, he spoke with the survivors, calming them with words of encouragement and preparing them for the Union counterattack that was sure to come. Within the hour, a courier informed Lee of JEB Stuart's defeat three miles east of Gettysburg at what is known today as East Cavalry Field. Stuart successfully marched east of Gettysburg and turned his force south where they encountered a strong Union cavalry force blocking the Hanover Road. A spirited battle ensued with troopers of both armies fighting on foot and horseback. Southern charges meant to slice through the Union line were stopped cold by Union cavalrymen led by Brig. General George Armstrong Custer. His attempt to raid the Union rear thwarted, Stuart withdrew and retired toward Gettysburg.

Lee realized his army could no longer remain in Pennsylvania. Returning to his headquarters, he dictated orders for the army to withdraw, retreat to the Potomac River, and return to Virginia. "Too bad, too bad," a staff officer heard the general say in his discouragement. "Oh, too bad."

Storm clouds blackened the early evening sky. A heavy rain soon fell, symbolically washing the land of the carnage wrought by three days of bloody battle.

The Last Full Measure of Devotion.

Though the armies were soon to leave, the battle was far from over for the citizens of Adams County and the countless wounded left behind.

"The last full measure of devotion..."

The Dreadful Aftermath.

Surgery
Battle of Gettysburg Aftermath.jpg
Camp Letterman

There were 459 infantry and cavalry regiments and 132 artillery batteries that participated in the Battle of Gettysburg, representing nearly 165,000 Union and Confederate soldiers. Although battle losses are difficult to ascertain because of incomplete records, the general consensus for total Union and Confederate casualties -- killed, wounded, missing, and captured -- is 51,000. Among 90,000 effective Union troops and 75,000 Confederates, there were approximately 51,000 casualties. The Army of the Potomac lost 3,155 killed, 14,529 wounded, and 5,365 captured or missing. Of the Army of Northern Virginia, 3,903 were killed, 18,735 wounded, and 5,425 missing or captured.
 
The effects of the battle were felt in Pennsylvania for many months after the armies had left. The dead and wounded soldiers were packed into churches, barns, and private homes throughout Adams County. Some of the wounded had no shelter except for the shade of trees. Overtaxed Union surgeons who had treated Union wounded continuously during the battle were now left with thousands of wounded Confederates to care for. Even with the help of Gettysburg citizens and Confederate surgeons who remained, the situation appeared to be near calamity.
 
But lessons learned from other battlefields had not been lost on the US Army Medical Department. Adams County was invaded once again that July, but this time by medical personnel with equipment and supplies who established a central hospital east of Gettysburg, dubbed "Camp Letterman". Wounded men were collected from remote locations to corps hospitals and then to Camp Letterman where surgeons and staff went immediately to work while civilian commissions assisted with nursing care and shelter. Once an individual was strong enough, he was shipped by rail to a permanent hospital in Philadelphia or Baltimore. Despite the best efforts of the army and charitable organizations, an additional 4,000 would succumb to their injuries either in Gettysburg or in the hospitals where they had been sent. Approximately 10,000 soldiers were captured during the fighting and both armies were burdened with their captives until they could be sent to prison camps.

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863, Map
Official Gettysburg Battlefield Map.jpg
Official Gettysburg Battlefield Map

With the wounded being cared for, attention turned to the sad condition of battlefield burials. Patriotic citizens of Adams County undertook efforts to establish a proper burial place for the Union dead and with funds provided by the Pennsylvania legislature, the process of reburials began that fall. The Soldiers National Cemetery was dedicated on November 19, 1863, and was the occasion of President Lincoln's highly regarded Gettysburg Address, when the president not only dedicated a cemetery but gave the North a reason to continue the struggle to reunite the nation, the focus of the American Civil War.

For the residents of Gettysburg, the experiences of those three terrible days were vivid for many years to follow. Many, such as store clerk Daniel Skelly, recounted their stories of the battle in letters, journals, and reminiscences. Many of these, such as the story told by Gettysburg school teacher Sallie Myers, related much of the horror of the battle and its immediate effect on the townspeople. Though life eventually returned to normal and repairs were made to damaged buildings, many homes in Gettysburg today still bear the scars of the battle.

By no means did the Battle of Gettysburg decide the final outcome of the American Civil War, but it was one of the more decisive victories for the Union Army of the Potomac and came at a time where Northern support for the Union cause was wavering. It was a turning point in the fortunes of the Confederacy- never again would Lee's Army of Northern Virginia be able to strike so far into the North or seriously threaten the Northern capitol. Gettysburg was the beginning of the final path, which led these armies to the war's bloody close at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. See also Pennsylvania Civil War History.

This nation was never the same after the Battle of Gettysburg.

(Sources and related reading below.)

Recommended Viewing: Gettysburg / Gods and Generals

Recommended Reading: Gettysburg, Day Three, by Jeffry D. Wert. Description: On July 1 and 2, 1863, armies commanded by George Meade and Robert E. Lee clashed in the hilly farm country surrounding Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Badly bloodied, the outcome of the battle still uncertain, they fought on into a third day, one whose close would decide the Civil War. Jeffry Wert, a Pennsylvania high school teacher and well-published scholar of Civil War history, offers a sweeping account of that third day of battle, one that relies heavily on letters, diaries, and other primary sources. Continued below.

From those combatants, we learn of the "carnival of hell" that was Pickett's Charge, when "the incessant rattle of musketry sounded like the grinding of some huge mill." We read of the heroic Union defense of Culp's Hill against equally heroic Confederate attackers, of a stirring charge of Virginia cavalry that elicited "a murmur of admiration" from opposing Michigan horsemen led by George Armstrong Custer, and of the exhaustion and terror of ordinary soldiers, one of whom mused, "What men are these we slaughter like cattle and still they come at us?" Like the battle itself on that final day at Gettysburg, Wert's narrative unfolds with breakneck speed, and sometimes with so much detail as to yield momentary confusion as it proceeds from one butchery to the next. Still, his account is painstakingly researched and very well written, and it deserves a place on the shelf alongside the work of Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote, and other popular historians of the Civil War. --Gregory McNamee

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Battle of Gettysburg : Detailed History

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Battle of Gettysburg : Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, Weapons, and Tactics

The Union Army Report for the Battle of Gettysburg

Recommended Reading: ONE CONTINUOUS FIGHT: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863 (Hardcover) (June 2008). Description: The titanic three-day battle of Gettysburg left 50,000 casualties in its wake, a battered Southern army far from its base of supplies, and a rich historiographic legacy. Thousands of books and articles cover nearly every aspect of the battle, but not a single volume focuses on the military aspects of the monumentally important movements of the armies to and across the Potomac River. One Continuous Fight: The Retreat from Gettysburg and the Pursuit of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, July 4-14, 1863 is the first detailed military history of Lee's retreat and the Union effort to catch and destroy the wounded Army of Northern Virginia. Against steep odds and encumbered with thousands of casualties, Confederate commander Robert E. Lee's post-battle task was to successfully withdraw his army across the Potomac River. Union commander George G. Meade's equally difficult assignment was to intercept the effort and destroy his enemy. The responsibility for defending the exposed Southern columns belonged to cavalry chieftain James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart. If Stuart fumbled his famous ride north to Gettysburg, his generalship during the retreat more than redeemed his flagging reputation. The ten days of retreat triggered nearly two dozen skirmishes and major engagements, including fighting at Granite Hill, Monterey Pass, Hagerstown, Williamsport, Funkstown, Boonsboro, and Falling Waters. Continued below.

President Abraham Lincoln was thankful for the early July battlefield victory, but disappointed that General Meade was unable to surround and crush the Confederates before they found safety on the far side of the Potomac. Exactly what Meade did to try to intercept the fleeing Confederates, and how the Southerners managed to defend their army and ponderous 17-mile long wagon train of wounded until crossing into western Virginia on the early morning of July 14, is the subject of this study. One Continuous Fight draws upon a massive array of documents, letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and published primary and secondary sources. These long-ignored foundational sources allow the authors, each widely known for their expertise in Civil War cavalry operations, to describe carefully each engagement. The result is a rich and comprehensive study loaded with incisive tactical commentary, new perspectives on the strategic role of the Southern and Northern cavalry, and fresh insights on every engagement, large and small, fought during the retreat. The retreat from Gettysburg was so punctuated with fighting that a soldier felt compelled to describe it as "One Continuous Fight." Until now, few students fully realized the accuracy of that description. Complimented with 18 original maps, dozens of photos, and a complete driving tour with GPS coordinates of the entire retreat, One Continuous Fight is an essential book for every student of the American Civil War in general, and for the student of Gettysburg in particular. About the Authors: Eric J. Wittenberg has written widely on Civil War cavalry operations. His books include Glory Enough for All (2002), The Union Cavalry Comes of Age (2003), and The Battle of Monroe's Crossroads and the Civil War's Final Campaign (2005). He lives in Columbus, Ohio. J. David Petruzzi is the author of several magazine articles on Eastern Theater cavalry operations, conducts tours of cavalry sites of the Gettysburg Campaign, and is the author of the popular "Buford's Boys." A long time student of the Gettysburg Campaign, Michael Nugent is a retired US Army Armored Cavalry Officer and the descendant of a Civil War Cavalry soldier. He has previously written for several military publications. Nugent lives in Wells, Maine.

 

Recommended Reading: General Lee's Army: From Victory to Collapse. Review: You cannot say that University of North Carolina professor Glatthaar (Partners in Command) did not do his homework in this massive examination of the Civil War–era lives of the men in Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. Glatthaar spent nearly 20 years examining and ordering primary source material to ferret out why Lee's men fought, how they lived during the war, how they came close to winning, and why they lost. Glatthaar marshals convincing evidence to challenge the often-expressed notion that the war in the South was a rich man's war and a poor man's fight and that support for slavery was concentrated among the Southern upper class. Continued below.

Lee's army included the rich, poor and middle-class, according to the author, who contends that there was broad support for the war in all economic strata of Confederate society. He also challenges the myth that because Union forces outnumbered and materially outmatched the Confederates, the rebel cause was lost, and articulates Lee and his army's acumen and achievements in the face of this overwhelming opposition. This well-written work provides much food for thought for all Civil War buffs.

 

Recommended Reading: The Maps of Gettysburg: The Gettysburg Campaign, June 3 - July 13, 1863 (Hardcover). Description: More academic and photographic accounts on the battle of Gettysburg exist than for all other battles of the Civil War combined-and for good reason. The three-days of maneuver, attack, and counterattack consisted of literally scores of encounters, from corps-size actions to small unit engagements. Despite all its coverage, Gettysburg remains one of the most complex and difficult to understand battles of the war. Author Bradley Gottfried offers a unique approach to the study of this multifaceted engagement. The Maps of Gettysburg plows new ground in the study of the campaign by breaking down the entire campaign in 140 detailed original maps. These cartographic originals bore down to the regimental level, and offer Civil Warriors a unique and fascinating approach to studying the always climactic battle of the war. Continued below.

The Maps of Gettysburg offers thirty "action-sections" comprising the entire campaign. These include the march to and from the battlefield, and virtually every significant event in between. Gottfried's original maps further enrich each "action-section." Keyed to each piece of cartography is detailed text that includes hundreds of soldiers' quotes that make the Gettysburg story come alive. This presentation allows readers to easily and quickly find a map and text on virtually any portion of the campaign, from the great cavalry clash at Brandy Station on June 9, to the last Confederate withdrawal of troops across the Potomac River on July 15, 1863. Serious students of the battle will appreciate the extensive and authoritative endnotes. They will also want to bring the book along on their trips to the battlefield… Perfect for the easy chair or for stomping the hallowed ground of Gettysburg, The Maps of Gettysburg promises to be a seminal work that belongs on the bookshelf of every serious and casual student of the battle.

 

Recommended Reading: Commanding the Army of the Potomac (Modern War Studies) (Hardcover). Description: During the Civil War, thirty-six officers in the Army of the Potomac were assigned corps commands of up to 30,000 men. Collectively charged with leading the Union's most significant field army, these leaders proved their courage in countless battlefields from Gettysburg to Antietam to Cold Harbor. Unfortunately, courage alone was not enough. Their often dismal performances played a major role in producing this army's tragic record, one that included more defeats than victories despite its numerical and materiel superiority. Stephen Taaffe takes a close look at this command cadre, examining who was appointed to these positions, why they were appointed, and why so many of them ultimately failed to fulfill their responsibilities. He demonstrates that ambitious officers such as Gouverneur Warren, John Reynolds, and Winfield Scott Hancock employed all the weapons at their disposal, from personal connections to exaggerated accounts of prowess in combat, to claw their way into these important posts. Continued below.

Once appointed, however, Taaffe reveals that many of these officers failed to navigate the tricky and ever-changing political currents that swirled around the Army of the Potomac. As a result, only three of them managed to retain their commands for more than a year, and their machinations caused considerable turmoil in the army's high command structure. Taaffe also shows that their ability or inability to get along with generals such as George McClellan, Ambrose Burnside, Joseph Hooker, George Meade, and Ulysses Grant played a big role in their professional destinies. In analyzing the Army of the Potomac's corps commanders as a group, Taaffe provides a new way of detailing this army's chronic difficulties-one that, until now, has been largely neglected in the literature of the Civil War.

 

Recommended Reading: The Gettysburg Companion: A Guide to the Most Famous Battle of the Civil War (Hardcover). Description: There have been many books about Gettysburg, but never one to rival this in scale or authority. Based on extensive research, The Gettysburg Companion describes the battle in detail, drawing on firsthand accounts of participants on all sides in order to give the reader a vivid sense of what it was like to experience the carnage at Gettysburg in early July 1863. The many full-color maps--all specially commissioned for the book--and the numerous photographs, charts, and diagrams make this book a feast for the eyes and a collector's dream. Includes a massive library of 500 color illustrations.

 

Recommended Reading: Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg, by James M. Mcpherson (Crown Journeys) (Hardcover). Review From Publishers Weekly: The country's most distinguished Civil War historian, a Pulitzer Prize winner (for Battle Cry of Freedom) and professor at Princeton, offers this compact and incisive study of the Battle of Gettysburg. In narrating "the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere," McPherson walks readers over its presently hallowed ground, with monuments numbering into the hundreds, many of which work to structure the narrative. They range from the equestrian monument to Union general John Reynolds to Amos Humiston, a New Yorker identified several months after the battle when family daguerreotypes found on his body were recognized by his widow. Indeed, while McPherson does the expected fine job of narrating the battle, in a manner suitable for the almost complete tyro in military history, he also skillfully hands out kudos and criticism each time he comes to a memorial. Continued below.

He praises Joshua Chamberlain and the 20th Maine, but also the 140th New York and its colonel, who died leading his regiment on the other Union flank in an equally desperate action. The cover is effective and moving: the quiet clean battlefield park above, the strewn bodies below. The author's knack for knocking myths on the head without jargon or insult is on display throughout: he gently points out that North Carolinians think that their General Pettigrew ought to share credit for Pickett's charge; that General Lee's possible illness is no excuse for the butchery that charge led to; that African-Americans were left out of the veterans' reunions; and that the kidnapping of African-Americans by the Confederates has been excised from most history books.

Sources: Gettysburg National Military Park; Library of Congress; National Archives and Records Administration; National Park Service; Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies.

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