GettysburgThe Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 through July 3, 1863, marked a turning point in the Civil War. This is the most famous andimportant Civil War Battle that occurred, around the small market townof Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Most importantly Gettysburg was theclash between the two major American Cultures of there time: theNorth and the South.
The causes of the Civil War and the Battle ofGettysburg, one must understand the differences between these twocultures. The Confederacy (the South) had an agricultural economyproducing tobacco, sugar, and cotton, were found to thrive in theSouth. With many large plantations owned by a few very wealthy richwhite males. These owners lived off the labor of sharecroppers andslaves, charging high dues for the use of their land. “The Southern orConfederate Army was made up of a group of white males fighting fortheir independence from federal northern. ” (McPheron, 33)The cooler climate and rocky soil in the North were not suitable forestablishing plantations or large farms.
The Northern States,dedicated to a more modern way of life and to end slavery. The Union (the North) economy was based on manufacturing, and even theminorities in the North were better off than those in the South most ofthe time. As a result, the North’s economy came to depend more ontrade than on agriculture. “Such an economy favored the growth ofcities, though most Northerners still live in rural areas. ” (McPheron43) The Northern politicians wanted tariffs, and a large army.
TheSouthern plantation owners wanted the exact opposite. TheSoutherners enjoyed a prosperous agricultural based on slave labor andwished to keep their old way of life. The South was fighting against the government that they thought wastreating them unfairly. They believed the Federal Government wasovertaxing them, with tariffs and property taxes making their lifestyleseven more expensive than they already had been.
The North wasfighting the Civil War for two reasons, first to keep the NationUnified, and second to abolish slavery. Abraham Lincoln, theCommander and Chief of the Union or Northern forces along withmany other Northerners believed that slavery was not only completelywrong, but it was great humiliation to America. One can see that withthese differences a conflict would surely occur, but not many hadpredicted that full-blown war would breakout. One did and after threebloody and costly years for both sides we come to the date of July 1,1863. Before the Battle of Gettysburg, major cities in the North such asPhiladelphia, Baltimore, and even Washington, were under threat ofattack from General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of NorthernVirginia which had crossed the Potomac River and marched intoPennsylvania.
On Tuesday morning, June 30, 1863, an infantry brigade ofConfederate soldiers searching for shoes headed toward Gettysburg. “The Confederate commander spotted a long column of Federalcavalry heading toward the town. He withdrew his brigade andinformed his superior, General Henry Heth, who in turn told hissuperior, A. P. Hill, he would go back the following morning for shoesthat were desperately needed. ” (Coddington, 289)The battle began on July 1, 1863, when some of General AmbrosePowell Hill’s advance brigades entered the town of Gettysburg,Pennsylvania looking for shoes.
“Due to General Stuart’s failure tocomplete his mission of tracking the Union Army, Hill’s troopsencountered a Union cavalry division command by Major General JohnBuford. ” (Microsoft Encarta, Battle of Gettysburg) During battle infront of Cemetery Hill, General Hill was faced with stubbornresistance from the Union forces trying to hold until the rest of theforces could arrive and help out. “Having made his decision to stay atGettysburg and go on the offensive, General Robert E. Lee ponderedthe best way to carry it out. From the close of the first day’s fightinguntil late that night he discussed battle plans with his generals.
Heheld no council of war, nor time, even informally. Instead he himselfrode out to consult with each corps commanders and his chiefsubordinates, and he saw other officers individually or in groups at hisheadquarters. ” (Coddington, 363) General Robert E. Lee orderedseveral brigades to travel east to check their location and to search forsupplies for his troops.
Northwest of the town of Gettysburg they met. A skirmish ensued and as the battle heated, word was sent back toboth commanders that the enemy was found and reinforcement troopsproceeded to the area. Over the next two days General Robert E. Lee’s army converged onto Gettysburg from the west and north whileGeneral George Meade’s army arrived from the south and southeast. Thus a battle never planned occurred simply by circumstance.
Although, the Confederates won the day, General Ewell made themistake of not allowing General Hill to force the Union troops withhigher ground, and this the conclusion of day one. As Southern forces continued a relentless attack against the entrenchedUnion troops, the additional arriving Confederate forces launched anall-out offensive which drove the Union forces through the streets ofGettysburg, Pennsylvania, to a defensive line south of town. Thus,after the first day of battle the five mile Confederate line traveled fromSeminary Ridge on the west side of the town of Gettysburg, throughthe town and eastward toward the area called Culp’s Hill. On the following day, July 2, 1863, a series of uncoordinated andfragmented Confederate attacks on the Union defensive position southof the town. While simultaneous attacks were supposed to haveoccurred on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Ridge, the attacks took placesix hours apart and were unsuccessful. The Union forces held ontoCulp’s Hill, the Confederate forces did drive back the Union troops inareas referred to as the Peach Orchard, Wheat field, Valley of Deathand Devils Den with a staggering amount of casualties.
TheConfederate advance of the right flank had initially succeeded but wasstopped by heroic efforts of Union forces in an area known as LittleRound Top. “All during the morning of Thursday, July 2, as bothLee and Meade planned their operations and deployed their troops, advance detachments of both armies kept up a lively fire. ” (Coddington, 385) General George Meade, Commander of the Union Army of thePotomac arrived, along with the majority of the army. “GeneralGeorge Meade, formed his forces in a widely recognizable horse shoeformation, anchored at Big and Little Round Top on the West Culp’sHill on the East, and got positioned in behind a stonewall alongCemetery Ridge. The large Union forces faced an ad-hoc formation ofSouthern Troops preparing for a hasty attack.
The Confederate forcesroughly mirrored the Union line, commanded left to right or east towest by James Longstreet, Amrose Powell Hill, and Richard Ewell. ” (Coddington, 392)Having been basically successful in two days of battle with the UnionArmy, General Robert E. Lee, believing his Army was invincible andundefeatable, decided to attack what he thought to be the weakestposition of the Union line the next day. At the some time GeneralGeorge Meade held a conceal of war with his crop Commanders anddecided made by both Commanders would lead to one of the mostfamous days of the American Civil War.History Essays