You’ve been patient and the good news is that the day you’ve been waiting for has arrived! Today we will be sharing the edge-of-your-seat conclusion to the battle of Gettysburg. So, without further ado…
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.
At 1pm the Confederate artillery opened fire on the Union center which lead to one hour of the most massive artillery bombardment of the Civil War. Around 2pm, the Union slowed their firing in an attempt to trick the Confederates into believing they had knocked out the Union guns. The trick worked and at 3pm, 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 battle of Gettysburg is oftentimes referred to as the turning point of the American Civil War. The Union defeated attacks by the Confederates thus ending the south’s invasion of the north however it wasn’t without consequences. It was the battle with the largest number of casualties (killed, wounded and captured/missing) totaling 23,055 for the Union and 23,231 for the Confederates. It is a sobering number of lives to have been given for us to enjoy the freedoms that we do today. We encourage you to take a moment to remember those brave men and visit Gettysburg to learn more about their stories of true valor!