President Lincoln appointed George Meade commander of the Union's Army of the Potomac just two days before the Battle of Gettysburg. Meade was a native of Pennsylvania. He replaced General Joseph Hooker, who led the army when it was defeated in May, 1863, at the Battle of Chancellorsville, Virginia.
Gettysburg is a small town in south-central Pennsylvania, just a few miles north of the Maryland state line. In the summer of 1863, Confederate General Robert E. Lee marched 75,000 men north to invade Union territory. They wandered into the Gettysburg area on July 1, looking for supplies. A small force of Union cavalry met and fought them there until thousands of Union army reinforcements arrived later. The commander of the federal forces, General George Meade, did not arrive until after dark. He led more than 88,000 troops. The next day, Meade's and Lee's men fought over important spots that bordered the town: a hill called Little Round Top, a grove of fruit trees called the Peach Orchard, farmland called the Wheat Field, and a rise near a burial ground called Cemetery Hill. These combats were so large that each was like a separate battle. On the morning of July 3, there was a fight around a spot called Culp's Hill. Then Lee ordered a division led by Major General George Pickett to attack the center of
Meade's battle line. That afternoon attack is remembered as Pickett's Charge. Thousands of Confederates ran directly at Union cannons and rows of riflemen. A huge number of these Southerners were killed, wounded, or captured. This disaster forced Lee to accept defeat. He ordered his army to retreat south on July 4. His fight with Meade was the largest battle ever fought in North America.
Gunner ramming in a canister round
Drum modeled on the instrument shown on the opposite page
Little Round Top
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