The Battle of Gettysburg

On the morning of July 1, 1863, advance scouting parties from the two armies stumbled into one another near the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg. When Lee learned of this skirmish, he suddenly realized that the Union Army was very close. He hurriedly ordered his army of seventy-five thousand men to gather around Gettysburg before the Federal army could attack. Meade, mean

Photos Gettysburg And Lincon

while, ordered his army of ninety thousand troops forward to engage the rebel invaders. But the size of his army made it difficult to move quickly, so only a fraction of Meade's full force reached Gettysburg that day.

Throughout the day of July 1, Lee's men punished their outnumbered Yankee foes. The Confederates pushed the Union troops back to a field outside of Gettysburg known as Cemetery Ridge, where the Federals managed to hold their ground. The following day, Lee ordered a major attack on the Union position. He directed troops led by Stonewall Jackson's replacement, Richard S. Ewell (1817-1872), and Jubal Early (1816-1894) to keep the Union's center and right flanks occupied at the same time that Longstreet's corps smashed into the Federal Army's left flank.

As the rebel attack unfolded, it appeared that Lee's plan might work. The Union's left side absorbed terrific punishment from Longstreet's troops, who pushed on through hails of Yankee gunfire. But the attack fizzled, stopped by Union reinforcements and the heroism of Federal soldiers like

Gettysburg Longstreet Plan Attack

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, site of Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

(Illustration by XNR Productions. Reproduced by permission of The Gale Croup.)

Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, site of Pickett's Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

(Illustration by XNR Productions. Reproduced by permission of The Gale Croup.)

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (1828-1914). Chamberlain and his men of the Twentieth Maine Regiment had been ordered to keep a strategic position known as Little Round Top out of Confederate hands. Chamberlain's regiment stopped repeated attacks, only to run out of ammunition. In a desperate move, Chamberlain ordered a bayonet attack. His men rushed forward to engage in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy, using the sharp bayonets on the ends of their guns like swords. This tactic stunned his rebel foes and assured the North's continued posses sion of Little Round Top. Chamberlain's heroic defense of that position remains one of the most legendary feats in Civil War history.

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