Gettysburg National Military Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Fought over the first three days of July 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most important conflicts of the Civil War. The fate of the nation was proven in the summer of 1863 when General Robert E. Lee, commanding the "Army of Northern Virginia", led his army north into Maryland and Pennsylvania, bringing the war directly into Union territory. The Union Army, commanded by Major General George Gordon Meade, met the Confederate invasion near the Pennsylvania crossroads town of Gettysburg, and what began as a chance encounter quickly turned into a desperate, ferocious battle. Despite initial Confederate successes, the battle turned against Lee on July 3rd, and with few options remaining, he ordered his army to retreat to Virginia. The Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg resulted not only in Lee's retreat to Virginia, but an end to the hopes of the Confederate States of America for independence. Residents of the area grew concerned with the terrible condition of soldiers' graves scattered over the battlefield and at hospital sites, and pleaded with Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin for state support to buy a part of the battlefield to be set aside as a final resting place for the defenders of the Union cause. Gettysburg lawyer David Wills was appointed the state agent to head the establishment of the new "Soldiers' National Cemetery", which was designed by famous architect William Saunders. Removal of the Union dead to the cemetery began in the fall of 1863, but would not be completed until long after the cemetery grounds were dedicated on November 19, 1863. The dedication ceremony featured orator Edward Everett and included solemn prayers, songs, dirges to honor the men who died at Gettysburg. Yet, it was President Abraham Lincoln who provided the most notable words in his two-minute long address, this was where he stated the Gettysburg Address, eulogizing the Union soldiers buried at Gettysburg and reminding those in attendance of their sacrifice for the Union cause, that they should renew their devotion "to the cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion.."
Backstory and Context
General Lee had attacked Major General George Meade. He had attacked from both sides of the union army and had great success, but Lee was overconfident and thought that the center would be weak because he thought Meade would reinforce the sides that Lee attacked and it would leave them easy to defeat. He sent 13,00 of his soldiers to finish off the army and less than half of his soldiers returned. The day after Lee retreated his remaining soldiers back to Virginia.
This infamous battle spanned over 3 long days with many conflicts spanning from anywhere between 4-8 hours creating a tiring stand off between the Union and Confederates. On the second day of battle a seven hour battle began around an area named Culp's Hill which turned out to be an ultimate turn in the tides of this 3 day stand off along with the Civil War itself. The union pushed the Confederates back and dug in forcing the Confederates to fall back and ultimately losing the battle. The casualties of this 3 day battle were high with an estimated 51,000 men killed (28,000 Confederates, 23,000 Union).
The aftermath of this battle was brutal for the confederacy. Distraught from the loss General Robert E. Lee offered up his resignation as general but was refused that request. The South was demoralized after this loss and the North knew it and took full advantage in continuing on to end the Civil War.
People to this day visit this park everyday to pay there respects to all these soldiers who parishes and to this day people say "as soon as you enter the battlefields, whether you are spiritual or not, you can feel this immense sadness. You can just feel that there is something there. With 51,000 lives lost there in three days…I believe there are souls still there" (Blue Monday, comments of Battle of Gettysburg ( Full Documentary). Many people who visit are overwhelmed with the feeling of loss and grief of the soldiers and all their families. There also is a sign of hope here too, because the soldier’s deaths were not in vein. This battle is known as a turning point in the war and lead to the Union winning and the end of the Civil War. This battle also lead to one of the greatest speeches been given and that speech was the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln. There also theories of that Abraham Lincoln wrote the Gettysburg Address on his train ride to give the speech. That would make one of the best speeches ever a last-minute thought of the President.
-Editors, H. (2009, October 29). Battle of Gettysburg. Retrieved March 1, 2019, from https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/battle-of-gettysburg
OConnor, Jim, and John Mantha. What Was the Battle of Gettysburg?New York, NY: Scholastic Inc, 2016.
(This is a simple book with an overview of the entire battle)
Reardon, Carol. "Gettysburg, Battle of." The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History, edited by Paul S. Boyer, Oxford University Press, Inc., 1st edition, 2013. Credo Reference, https://marshall.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/oupomad/gettysburg_battle_of/0?institutionId=3309. Accessed 13 Mar. 2020.
Lincoln, Abraham, and Greta Gard. "“The Gettysburg Address”" The Literature of War, edited by Thomas Riggs, Gale, 1st edition, 2012. Credo Reference, https://marshall.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/galelow/the_gettysburg_address/0?institutionId=3309. Accessed 13 Mar. 2020.
Wills, Garry. "Gettysburg Address." The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Military and Diplomatic History, edited by Paul S. Boyer, Oxford University Press, Inc., 1st edition, 2013. Credo Reference, https://marshall.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/oupomad/gettysburg_address/0?institutionId=3309. Accessed 13 Mar. 2020.
Mcpherson, James M., and James M. McPherson. "Gettysburg, Battle of." The Reader's Companion to Military History, edited by Robert Cowley, and Geoffrey Parker, Houghton Mifflin, 1st edition, 1996. Credo Reference, https://marshall.idm.oclc.org/login?url=https://search.credoreference.com/content/entry/rcmh/gettysburg_battle_of/0?institutionId=3309. Accessed 13 Mar. 2020.