History of the Battle of Gettysburg

The Battle of Gettysburg
American Civil War 1861 to 1865

The battle of Gettysburg was the largest battle ever fought on American soil. The two mighty armies of General Robert E Lee’s army of northern Virginia and General George Meads army of the Potomac had kind of stumbled into each other as neither General, Lee or Mead had any real idea of each others whereabouts. But meet they did.

For three days the two mighty armies clashed in a titanic struggle in and around the sleepy Pennsylvanian town of Gettysburg. Those three days of July the 1st, 2nd and 3rd would go down in history as not only the largest battle on American soil but also the costliest, over 50,000 soldiers were killed wounded or missing. Gettysburg with its high casualties did not stop the war but was a turning point that drained General Lee’s offensive power and handed the initiative back to the Union. Even so the war dragged on for nearly two more years ending with the surrender of General Lee to General Grant at Appomattox in 1865.

Up until the Battle of Gettysburg General Lee had always held the upper hand with a string of victories over the Union forces despite always being outnumbered. He had become the ‘Darling of the South’ and was thought to be almost invincible. Most historians are of the opinion that General Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg was the “high water mark” of the Confederacy.

On November 19th 1863, a few months after the battle President Abraham Lincoln read his now immortal speech The Gettysburg Address not far from the Cemetery Gate House where much of the fighting took place.