Wednesday, July 3, 2013
July 3 - The Battle of Gettysburg
150 years ago: On July 3, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg ended after three days of costly, horrific fighting. It was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War and the “high water mark” of Confederate efforts to invade the North. A chance encounter between a Confederate division and three Union cavalry brigades at the crossroads town of Gettysburg, PA, only 75 miles northwest of Washington, DC, led to the epic clash of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and Gen George Meade’s Army of the Potomac. The third day of fighting was finalized by the disastrous “Pickett’s charge” at Cemetery Ridge, during which thousands of Confederate soldiers were mowed down by Union artillery and musketry. Lee’s forces were turned back and remained on the defensive for the rest of the war. Of the more than 46,000 casualties incurred on both sides, nearly 8,000 soldiers were killed at Gettysburg. More than 37,500 rifles were left on the battlefield, and at least 3,000 horses lay dead. The Confederate wagon train of wounded sent back to Virginia was 17 miles long.