The site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and one of the most visited places in the United States
The Battle of Gettysburg:
Marked the turning point of the Civil War.
With more than 50,000 estimated casualties, the three-day engagement was the bloodiest single battle of the conflict.
How it ended:
Gettysburg ended Confederate general Robert E. Lee's ambitious second quest to invade the North and bring the Civil War to a swift end.
The loss there dashed the hopes of the Confederate States of America to become an independent nation.
After a year of defensive victories in Virginia, Lee's objective was to win a battle north of the Mason-Dixon line in the hopes of forcing a negotiated end to the fighting.
His loss at Gettysburg prevented him from realizing that goal.
Instead, the defeated general fled south with a wagon train of wounded soldiers straining toward the Potomac.
Union general Meade failed to pursue the retreating army, missing a critical opportunity to trap Lee and force a Confederate surrender.
The bitterly divisive war raged on for another two years.
Tuesday, June 30:
A Confederate infantry brigade from General A. P. Hill's corps heads toward Gettysburg, Pa., in search of supplies. The Confederates spot Union cavalry heading toward Gettysburg.
Wednesday, July 1:
Confederate commanders send troops to engage Brigadier General John Buford's cavalry at Gettysburg at McPherson Ridge. Union soldiers, under the command of Major General John F. Reynolds arrive midmorning to support Buford. Reynolds is soon killed by a bullet to the head. Confederate Army General Robert E. Lee arrives in Gettysburg mid-afternoon. By then, Union forces are on the retreat through the town of Gettysburg and regroup at Cemetery Hill. Lee orders Confederate General R.S. Ewell to attack at Cemetery Hill, but Ewell hesitates, giving Union troops time to bring in reinforcements and set up artillery. As night falls, the Union's lead commander at Gettysburg, Major General George Meade, orders all Union forces to Gettysburg -- in all, more than 90,000 troops.
Thursday, July 2:
Meade arrives in the middle of the night. Lee orders two of his generals, James Longstreet and Ewell, to attack the flanks of Union forces on Culp's Hill. But Longstreet delays, and attacks much later than Ewell, giving Union forces more time to strengthen their position.
The Union's Major General Daniel Sickles advances in front of the main line and comes under attack. The two sides engage in some of the fiercest fighting of the Civil War, ensuring that the locations Peach Orchard, Devil's Den, the Wheatfield and Little Round Top go down in history. Ewell attacks Union troops at Cemetery Hill and Culp's Hill, but Union forces hold their position. Late in the night, Lee decides on a gamble. On Friday, he will attack where least expected: at the center of the Union line along Cemetery Ridge.
Friday, July 3:
Fighting begins around 4 a.m. with cannon fire. Union artillery pounds the Rebels at the lower end of Culp's Hill. Union troops finally succeed in driving the Rebels from the hill, and fighting over Culp's Hill ends. Around 1 p.m., Confederate cannons open fire on the Union position at the center of Cemetery Ridge. The Union artillery slows its fire, to trick the Rebels into thinking they had knocked out the Union cannons.
General George Pickett commands 15,000 Confederate troops as they charge Cemetery Ridge. The Union artillery opens up again, devastating the Confederate line. The battered, outnumbered Rebels begin to retreat. Lee rides out to meet the survivors, taking all the blame. He reportedly says, "All this has been my fault. It is I who have lost this fight, and you must help me out the best way you can." The battle for Gettysburg is over. Gettysburg was the last attempt by the South to launch a major offensive in the northern states.
Nov. 19, 1863:
President Abraham Lincoln travels to Gettysburg, which he dedicates as a military cemetery. Lincoln tells the crowd, "in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
The First Day:
Union General John Buford arrived in Gettysburg with two cavalry brigades on June 30th 1863.
They were the first Union troops to arrive in Gettysburg and while they were never directly ordered to defend the town, Buford decided that they would.
He was a wise man and understood that the best tactic he could employ was to set his men in a defensive position to buy some time while waiting for the main army to arrive.
So, he placed his men on McPherson's ridge for the night.
The battle of Gettysburg begins.
It was Confederate General Heth that ordered the first attack on the cavalry that was defending Gettysburg up on McPherson's ridge.
Two Confederate brigades advanced, with the intention to quickly defeat the Union, however were in for a surprise as the Union troops fought brilliantly and held them off for two hours which is when Union General John Reynolds and his veteran infantry corps arrived.
Reynolds is said to have been killed upon arrival however, his men fought hard driving the Confederates away from McPherson's ridge and inflicting a great deal of casualties in the process.
A second attack was launched.
Confederate Lieutenant General Richard Ewell's corps charged the Union line in their right flank.
Upon seeing this as a successful tactic, Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered an attack along the entire line.
The Union troops were quickly overwhelmed and fled.
In response, Union General Howard ordered a general retreat to higher ground on Cemetery Ridge.
Lee quickly realized that the Union retreat to Cemetery Ridge would put their opposition in an excellent defensive position and suggested that Ewell to take control of it.
However, despite the urging of his subordinates, Ewell decided against it.
Meanwhile, on the Union side, General Hancock had arrived, calmed down the troops and decided they were in an advantageous defensive position.
It was this knowledge that led to the Union to decide to stay put.
And, with this decision, day one of the battle of Gettysburg came to a close.
The Second Day:
The Union troops were advantageously positioned on both Cemetery Ridge and McPherson's Hill with the Confederate camp keenly aware of their opposition's wise tactic.
Overnight both sides had received reinforcements which bolstered confidences all around.
The first move of the day went to Confederate General Robert E. Lee who ordered General James Longstreet to attack the Union's left flank.
The assumption was that the maneuver would come as a surprise since the Union would be preoccupied with the Confederates which were in plain sight on Culp's Hill.
Longstreet wasn't convinced as to the effectiveness of this strategy and took his time getting to the attack position only to arrive and find that an entire Union corp was in the way!
They had no choice but to fight.
Around the same time, Lee ordered General Ewell to "make a demonstration" against the main Union line which would prevent their opposition from shifting troops to the south to reinforce their lines.
The attack on the main Union line began with an artillery bombardment which was executed under the leadership of Confederate General Hood.
This progressed into very bloody fighting including oftentimes hand-to-hand combat as the Confederates fought their way through Devil's Den and onwards to Little Round Top.
It was here that they ran into the 20th Maine under the leadership of Union General Joshua Chamberlain.
The Confederates charged the 20th Maine three times only to be beaten back each.
This led to their retreat to Little Round Top during which time Chamberlain ordered his men to fix bayonets and sweep the rebels from the Hill.
Meanwhile, the other attack had turned extremely bloody also as the Confederates pushed their way through an easily overwhelmed Union line.
However, the rebels were eventually forced to withdraw after the Union received reinforcements.
Around the same time, Confederate General Richard Anderson began his attack on the Union lines within the center of Gettysburg.
Unfortunately, this section of the Union had thinned out his lines to reinforce other areas receiving the brunt of the Confederate attacks.
The rebels had initial success of taking over however, it was short lived as the 1st Minnesota regiment arrived and effectively held back the rebels while giving the Union Generals time to successfully strategize.
The last attack of the day was executed at 7pm.
It was the "demonstration" that Lee had ordered Ewell to make.
As with much of the Confederate's attacks that day, it began with some success however, Union reinforcements left the rebels at a disadvantage and eventually led to their retreat.
While Lee came close to breaking Union lines, he ultimately failed to do so on this second bloody day of battle.
Casualties were very high with both sides losing approximately 10,000 men each.
Shaken by this realization, Union Generals called a meeting to vote on remaining at Gettysburg or withdrawing.
It was unanimous – stay and fight.
The Third Day:
The third day of the battle of Gettysburg opened with both sides having received reinforcements which restored their numbers to the same as the beginning on the war. The Union was the first to strike by attacking the Confederate troops on Culp's Hill in hopes of regaining territory lost the day prior. The battle lasted 8 hours and ended with the Confederate troops retreating. Meanwhile, Lee was busy planning the main attack on Gettysburg which we know today as Pickett's Charge. The tactic was to attack the center of the Union's troops while sending more troops to attack from the rear which would result in the splitting of the Union troops. Lee believed that if this tactic was successful, the win would be theirs.
1 PM The Confederate artillery opened fire on the Union center which lead to one hour of the most massive artillery bombardment of the Civil War.
2 PM The Union slowed their firing in an attempt to trick the Confederates into believing they had knocked out the Union guns.
3 PM The trick worked, the Confederates stopped firing.
It was at this time that the commander of the Confederate artillery convinced Pickett they needed to charge now which lead Pickett to seek and receive permission from Longstreet to carry out the charge.
Over 12,000 troops lined up and started the march across a field towards a small clump of trees behind Federal lines.
Halfway across the field, the Union fired upon the Confederates from their advantageous positions on Cemetery Hill and Little Round Top.
The Confederates bravely pushed forward through not only the artillery but a small fence which caused disruptions to the formation making them an easier target (if you can imagine).
They continued forward until they reached a small stone wall which was their destination.
The remaining men rushed the stone wall and brutal hand-to-hand combat ensued.
The Union quickly reinforced their lines with fresh men and counterattacked.
The rebels, expecting reinforcements that never showed, were forced to treat and fled back to their original lines.
The troops were met by Lee as they returned to the Confederate lines.
He encouraged them to be prepared for a counterattack by the Union that he felt was sure to come yet never did.
An entire day passed with neither side making a move.
The battle of Gettysburg came to an official close as the Union left Gettysburg for good under the cover of night on July 4th.
The Confederacy lost 39% of its manpower due to the sheer volume of soldiers wounded there and was never again able to threaten the North.
In fact, the loss at Gettysburg was so detrimental to the South that it may have cost the Confederates the entire war.
That being said, if ghosts do exist, the battlefield at Gettysburg must be crawling with them.
And if the video below is to be believed, two of them like to cross the street in the dark in front of moving vehicles.
One of the "ghosts" could be just a drop from precipitation outside the vehicle.
Gettysburg 'ghosts' run across road in this bone-chilling video | New York Post
Two "ghosts" at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, were spotted — 157 years after the infamous Civil War battle. See the spooky sight for yourself, filmed by New Jersey resident Greg Yuelling, as he drove through the historical battleground with his family on Sept. 2, 2020.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war.
We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.
It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground.
The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863
Near the Monuments of Colonel Patrick Kelly's Brigade
Part of the American Civil War
Battle of Gettysburg:
July 1–3, 1863
In and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Union Major General George Meade's Army of the Potomac vs Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia
The Union defeated attacks by the Confederates, halting Lee's invasion of the North
The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war
It is often described as the war's turning point due to the Union's decisive victory and concurrence with the Siege of Vicksburg.
The Gettysburg Campaign:
After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North
With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia.
Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Major General Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved of command just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.
July 1, 1863:
Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there, his objective being to engage the Union army and destroy it.
Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division under Brigadier General John Buford, and soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry.
However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of the town to the hills just to the south.
July 2, 1863:
On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook.
In the late afternoon Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard.
On the Union right, Confederate demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill.
All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.
July 3, 1863:
On the third day of battle, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett's Charge.
The charge was repelled by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great loss to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia.
The most costly in US history. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies in the three-day battle.
November 19, 1863:
President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.
Gettysburg Train Station
Abraham Lincoln arrived here on November 18. This structure was also a vital part of the recovery efforts after the battle, as a depot for delivery of supplies and evacuation of the wounded.
Gettysburg The site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War. With more than 50,000 estimated casualties, the three-day engagement was the bloodiest single battle of the conflict. Gettysburg ended Confederate general Robert E. Lee's ambitious second quest to invade the North and bring the Civil War to a swift end. The loss there dashed the hopes of the Confederate States of America to become an independent nation.