The Battle of Gettysburg is widely recognized as the bloodiest of the Civil War. The events leading up to this battle greatly influenced the toll it had on either side and is believed to be a turning point in this conflict.
This battle began on the 1st of July in 1863 after Robert E Lee decided to again invade the North, after his last attempt had been unsuccessful. His army desperately needed the supplies that the farmlands in the Pennsylvania region would provide them. Winter was not too far off, and the harvest season was just beginning, meaning that this area would be filled with crops and livestock.
The attack was anticipated by the leader of the Union soldiers and he began to position his troops in higher ground, giving them the tactical advantage. These ridges were integral to holding the town and staving off the great number of Confederate soldiers moving towards it. Each soldier was aware that these ridges could mean their success or downfall, so they were armed to the teeth and motivated to hold the higher ground.
As the Confederate soldiers approached, the three-day long battle began and each side took heavy losses on the first day. Some of the largest regiments lost over 200 men in the initial skirmish and these blows were felt by both armies.
The plan of battle for the Confederate army was to continue to flank the Union army and push them further into the town. This initially went well, but cavalry attacks and further strategizing allowed the Union to fight back and force out the Confederates. Experiencing the battle field brings these events back to life, and the tactical nature of the battle makes it a favorite among history buffs. The Gray Line DC Gettysburg Tour will allow you to take a step back in time.
The Battle of Gettysburg ended with the failed Pickett’s Charge, as the Confederates retreated away from the town. This is often referred to as the turning point for the Union forces as the morale boost from the victory greatly benefitted their cause. Prior to this battle, the Confederate forces were winning battles regularly and convincingly, but this defeat allowed Union soldiers to believe that winning the war was again possible. It’s often speculated that victory in this battle could have been an opportunity to win the war for the Confederacy and historians still debate today on the tactics that could have made this turning point change direction.