The Siege of Gettysburg

By Guest Writer Tara Ross

On this day in 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg begins. Our nation should have been celebrating its 87th birthday that week. Instead, we were engaged in a brutal, 3-day battle that would end with as many as 51,000 dead or wounded.

At the time, Confederate General Robert E. Lee was fresh off a victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. He decided to head to Pennsylvania, with the intent of collecting more supplies. He also had another goal: Some northerners wanted out of the war. Perhaps he could encourage that sentiment by moving the fight to their own backyards.

In the meantime, newly appointed Major General George Meade led the Union army toward Lee’s troops. The two sides ended up clashing in Gettysburg when Confederate infantry ran into some Union cavalry, more or less by chance. The situation quickly took a serious tone, because Union commanders did not want to lose the town. Many roads converged there.

In the meantime, newly appointed Major General George Meade led the Union army toward Lee’s troops. The two sides ended up clashing in Gettysburg when Confederate infantry ran into some Union cavalry, more or less by chance. The situation quickly took a serious tone, because Union commanders did not want to lose the town. Many roads converged there.

More reinforcements arrived that evening. The fighting that had begun on July 1 continued into a second day. Then it continued into a third day. The battle finally swung decisively in favor of the Union army when the Confederate army launched an attack at the center of the Union lines. At least 12,000 Confederate soldiers marched across an open field in the attack known as Pickett’s charge. That attack lasted about an hour and ended miserably for the Confederate side. Half of the Confederate soldiers were lost, and the army soon began a hasty retreat toward Virginia.

Meade declined to pursue Lee, perhaps echoing the mistake that Ewell had made two days earlier. Some speculate that Meade could have ended the war then and there, if only he had taken up the pursuit. Abraham Lincoln certainly thought so. He wrote a letter to Meade (although he never sent it).

Lincoln wrote: “Again, my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape—He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war—As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely.”

The aftermath of the battle was gruesome. One teenage girl, a resident of Gettysburg, later recounted what she saw:

“I fairly shrank back aghast at the awful sight presented. The approaches were crowded with wounded, dying and dead. The air was filled with moanings, and groanings. . . . [A]mputating benches had been placed about the house. I must have become inured to seeing the terrors of battle, else I could hardly have gazed upon the scenes now presented. . . . To the south of the house, and just outside of the yard, I noticed a pile of limbs higher than the fence. It was a ghastly sight! Gazing upon these, too often the trophies of the amputating bench, I could have no other feeling, than that the whole scene was one of cruel butchery.”

Only a few months later, the Gettysburg Address would be given on this battlefield. “The brave men,” Lincoln stated, “living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. . . . 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.”

It’s a resolve that bears repeating, isn’t it?


Note from Tara Ross:

Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2020 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the shar e feature instead of cutting/pasting.

#TDIH #OTD #AmericanHistory #USHistory #liberty #freedom #ShareTheHistory

The Anniversary of the Battle of Antietam

by Scott Auld, Guest Author

September 17, 1862. Antietam.

This was bloodiest day in United States history, with a combined tally of 22,717 Americans dead, wounded, or missing.

After pursuing Robert E. Lee into Maryland, George McClellan launched attacks against defensive positions behind Antietam Creek, near Sharpsburg, Maryland. At dawn on September 17, Joseph Hooker’s corps mounted an assault on Lee’s left flank. Union assaults pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Ambrose Burnside’s Union corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek on the Confederate right. Hill’s Confederate division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle.

Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.

McClellan’s failure allowed Lee to shift forces and moving along interior lines. Despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed, McClellan failed to destroy Lee’s army. McClellan’s persistent but erroneous belief that he was outnumbered contributed to his cautiousness throughout the campaign.

McClellan had halted Lee’s invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia. McClellan’s refusal to pursue Lee’s army led to his removal from command by President Abraham Lincoln in November. With Lee’s withdrawal into Virginia, Lincoln had the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which encouraged the British and French governments to drop plans to recognize the Confederacy.

This was all 157 years ago.


Abraham Lincoln’s Assassination Anniversary

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States

Today, April 15, 2019, marks the 154th anniversary of the death of the 16th President of the United States, President Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC, the previous evening, while he and Mrs. Lincoln and guests watched a performance of the comedy, Our American Cousin. His assassin was a Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, who shot the President in the back of the head with a small Derringer pistol.

Following the fatal shot, Lincoln was carried across the street to a boarding house, where he died at 7:22 a.m. Saturday, April 15, 1865.

Booth died in a barn about two weeks later as he was surrounded by Union troops.

Rest In Peace, President Abraham Lincoln.


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