Bayard Wilkeson

ollowing the general standoff between Lee and McClellan at Antietam in September 1862, McClellan was replaced by General Ambrose Burnside. The new commander of the Army of the Potomac returned to the old strategy of invading Virginia, which brought the opposing forces together at the Rappahannock crossings, near Fredericksburg. Lee's army fought a purely defensive battle there from protected positions that allowed the Confederates to receive Union assaults and decimate them. Lee won a lopsided victory at Fredericksburg and would have been well advised to remain in prepared, fortified positions to repel additional invasions as they came. Gradually, the will of the northern population to continue the attack at such a high cost in lives lost might have been sapped. The logic, however, that had led Lee to attempt the invasion of Maryland in 1862 was still active.

Lee had managed to win some decisive victories, but the Union was continuing its advance in the Mississippi region and the naval blockade was beginning to draw tighter daily. He continued to feel that recognition by the North and peace for the Confederacy could be achieved only through large-scale military victories within northern territory. As Lee saw it, the South could win the war only by breaking the political will of the northern population to continue fighting; and this would never happen if Federal reverses occurred only in Virginia. He also knew that eventually Federal success in the west would permit large Union forces to shift against the Army of Northern Virginia and eliminate it.

Before he could prepare for a second invasion, however, Lee was forced to send Longstreet and his three divisions to southeast Virginia and North Carolina's coast to counter a potential amphibious landing that would threaten the railroads connecting North Carolina and Richmond. If Lee had not been forced to send Longstreet south, it is

North Carolina Lee Creek Mine Confederate ArmyConfederate ArmyConfederate Pennsylvania

PAGE 65: General George G. Meade and the other Union commanders of the Army of the Potomac assemble following the Battle of Gettysburg. Their victory resulted in a greatly weakened Army of Northern Virginia, a Confederate force that would be unable to return to offensive operations after their losses in Pennsylvania. OPPOSITE: The men of the Army of the Potomac demonstrated incredible courage and devotion to the Union: the Irish Brigade suffered enormous losses during the battle of Fredericksburg and yet the survivors were willing—even anxious—to continue fighting. RIGHT: The Confederate army had advantages—higher positions to shoot from and stone walls to conceal them—in their efforts to devastate the attacking Federal regiments at Fredericksburg. The lopsided Confederate victory should have served as a model for future operations, bid the aggressive Lee went over to the offensive and struck into Pennsylvania.

likely that Lee would have opened the 1863 campaign season with an invasion of Pennsylvania. As it was, Lee and his diminished army remained in position near the city of Fredericksburg.

Following the battle of Fredericksburg, Burnside had been replaced by Major General Joseph Hooker, who managed to surprise Lee with an aggressive crossing of the Rappahannock at the end of April. Lee immediately ordered Longstreet to return with his three divisions, but these were so dispersed that they could not be recalled quickly enough.

Hooker ordered his army to swing wide to the west to avoid the Confederate defenses at Fredericksburg, which had caused the dramatic losses in Burnside's attack in December. The circuitous approach gave Jackson an opportunity to make a rapid march and a flanking maneuver against the Federal right. The Federal army, though defeated initially in this attempt, fought hard and reestablished good defensive positions, but Hooker ordered a retreat—back across the Rappahannock.

Lee's sixty-thousand-man army had managed to defeat a force that was twice as large, and they had accomplished this dramatic feat while Longstreet's three divisions were absent from the field. Unfortunately for the South, the great Stonewall Jackson died during this engagement (at the Battle of Chancellorsville), which was a great military and personal (for Lee) loss, but Lee was beginning to believe that his Army of Northern Virginia was capable of accomplishing any task he set before it. On May 9, Longstreet rejoined the army at Lee's Fredericksburg headquarters, and by June 3 the Confederates were preparing for the long march north.

Lee met with his cavalry commander, Major General James Ewell Brown (Jeb) Stuart, near Culpeper, Virginia, at Brandy Station on June 8 and inspected Stuart's five brigades of cavalry. Nearby Federal cavalrymen, eleven thousand strong, attacked early the following morning in what was to become the largest cavalry battle ever fought on the North American continent. The battered Federal cavalry performed well against the more skilled Confederates and developed confidence in their abilities for the first time in the war.

Stuart paused to repair the damage the fighting had inflicted on his troops, but Lee would wait for nothing. He ordered General Richard Stoddert Ewell to move on June 10, the day after the battle at Brandy Station, in a new, skillfully planned campaign. Ewell marched through the Shenandoah Valley toward Winchester as Longstreet moved on a parallel course on the eastern slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. A.P Hill was ordered to follow Ewell's route once Hooker's army began to move. Ewell had only recently been assigned to command Jackson's corps, but he would pass his first test with flying colors.

By June 13, Ewell's lead divisions were approaching Winchester, where Federal Major General Robert Milroy commanded a garrison of over five thousand men. Both Lincoln and Halleck had been trying to con-

ABOVE: General Joseph Hooker ivas given command of the Army of the Potomac following Burns ide s defeat at Fredericksburg. Soon, however, he was defeated after a fierce battle at Chancellors ville and George Meade replaced him. OPPOSITE: After winning at Chancellorsville, Lee began to move his army into Pennsylvania in order to locate food and supplies. Their marches would culminate at the small town of Gettysburg.

vince Milroy of the wisdom of a rapid retreat from Winchester to the (albeit dubious) safety of Harper's Ferry, thirty miles away, but Winchester's commander felt he was safe, particularly since the Army of the Potomac would prevent the enormous Confederate army from moving rapidly against him. Realizing his error as the attack began, Milroy ordered an evacuation during the night, but encountered a large force that had been sent to block his retreat.

A general engagement opened that night at Stephenson's Depot, approximately four miles northeast of Winchester, and by dawn Milroy's small army had suffered 443 casualties and lost 3,358 prisoners to Ewell's corps. The opening battles of the 1863 campaign had gone well for the Confederates, and the long, gray-clad columns continued their lengthy march to the Potomac crossings. Curiously, they would make the move without the scouting of much of Stuart's cavalry.

Stuart had received severe criticism in the Richmond newspapers following the surprise Union attack at Brandy Station. Given his flair for the dramatic, everyone expected him to recover some of his reputation in the upcoming campaign. Stuart wanted to harass Hooker's troops. Lee reluctantly agreed to the plan, but insisted that the cavalry move to the left flank of the infantiy columns as soon as Hooker crossed the Potomac. Stuart's best brigades moved out on June 25, and from that point on through much of the upcoming battle they were unable to provide information to Lee as to the location and movement of Hooker and the Army of the Potomac.

Uneventful crossings occurred at the Potomac, and the Confederate army marched into the interior of Pennsylvania. On June 27, Lee learned while he was at Chambers-burg—from a report from Longstreet's scout Harrison—of Hooker's move out of Maryland and across the Potomac. He gave orders to have the Army of Northern Virginia concen trate its forces to meet Hooker's army because a battle would soon develop. Federal leaders knew that the loss of an important city—Washington, Baltimore, or Philadelphia—would be a major victory for the Confederacy and were prepared to fight a major battle to prevent such a loss.

Lee was encouraged by Longstreet to fight purely defensive battles (as they had done at Fredericksburg) in order to inflict severe losses on the Union army, but Lee could not afford to adopt this tactic. He had little room to move about as he had to remain in contact with his extended supply lines in the Shenandoah Valley. His men were able to feed themselves from the rich farms in the area, but an extended stay in a single area would soon deplete the available food supplies. To construct fortifications and fight a defensive battle in a single location would also seriously deplete the ammunition supply, which was also dependent on the tenuous supply line stretching back through the Shenandoah. The upcoming battle was not of Lee's choosing, but circumstances forced him to fight it. Longstreet had encouraged an attack on the Federal left, placing the Confederate army between the Army of the Potomac and Washington, thereby forcing the Union army to attack. Lee probably felt that the Union army would not be forced to attack, but would play a waiting game as reinforcements arrived daily. Confederate divisions could not move against Baltimore

Confederate ArmyConfederate Army

Gettysburg

Relative positions of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of Northern Virginia during the fighting on July 2, 1863

Approximate scale in miles

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Dull s Mill or Washington with an unfought army at their rear, and furthermore the Union army would have no difficulty in feeding its troops, while the Confederate army would be unable to feed itself.

Geography was also against Long-street's recommendation. Any battle east of Gettysburg would deprive Lee of secure escape routes back through the gaps in the South Mountain range and the prearranged crossings-to-safety in Virginia. Lee felt the immediate and pressing need to fight a battle—a large-scale battle—in Pennsylvania, at a location where a Federal defeat would spell disaster for the Union army, but a Confederate defeat would be manageable for Lee. A movement to the east would put his army in a location where defeat could become a military disaster for the Confederates. Lee had to fight a battle, and Gettysburg was the place where it would be fought.

As the armies drew close to one another, Lee learned from Harrison (a spy, full name unknown) that Hooker had been replaced by Major General George G. Meade on June 28, which was the fifth change of command in the last ten months for the Army of the Potomac. The Confederate army was located northwest of Gettysburg as the Army of the Potomac marched toward them from the southeast. Both armies began to close the gap separating them on June 30 and a severe engagement developed as contact was made in the vicinity of the town.

Meade, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican War, had served competently prior to his recent appointment as a replacement for Hooker and he began to issue orders to his commanders. After learning that Confederates were between Chambers-burg and Gettysburg, he ordered three corps of his army to concentrate in the direction of the enemy. John Buford, commanding a Federal cavalry division, entered the excited town just before noon on June 30 and

Mexican Confederates

ABOVE: General George G. Meade, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican War, had received command of a corps after Fredericksburg. Joseph Hooker was overwhelmed by the responsibilities of command and Meade was placed in command of the Army of the Potomac. RIGHT: Confederate fames Johnson Pettigrew also charged the Union lines at Gettysburg, but only George Pickett would receive credit for the attack.

ABOVE: General George G. Meade, a West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican War, had received command of a corps after Fredericksburg. Joseph Hooker was overwhelmed by the responsibilities of command and Meade was placed in command of the Army of the Potomac. RIGHT: Confederate fames Johnson Pettigrew also charged the Union lines at Gettysburg, but only George Pickett would receive credit for the attack.

found that a Confederate infantry brigade had approached the town and then quickly withdrawn from it. The Confederates, under the command of James Pettigrew, had come to the town to locate shoes, but had withdrawn when the approach of Buford's cavalry was detected. Buford knew the following morning would bring a general engagement in which his troopers would be sorely pressed until the arrival of heavier infantry divisions.

Confederate skirmishers made their initial contact with Buford's pickets at about 5:30 a.m., and severe fighting developed as the Confederates discovered that instead of local militia they were facing the Army of the Potomac. This was a different Union army from the one that had faced the rebel army at Bull Run and in other Virginia battles: poor officers had been replaced as new, experienced officers had risen to command and private soldiers had gained plenty of combat experience. The Federal army had by this time become a large professional army and did not hesitate to engage Lee's upcoming divisions.

Lee gave orders that no general engagement be started on July 1. His army was scattered over unfamiliar terrain within the enemy's territory: Ewell was several hours away to the north and Longstreet's entire corps would need a full day to march in from the west. General Henry Heth (pronounced "Heath") ordered his leading brigades into the town, but they were held up for an hour by Buford's cavalrymen's carbines and horse artillery.

Buford watched the opening rounds of the battle from the top of the Lutheran Seminary building as preparations were made to hold Gettysburg. Additional Union troops—including the Iron Brigade, soldiers who had gained strong reputations for their fighting ability at South Mountain and Antie-tam—were quickly sent to occupy positions at McPherson's Ridge. As the initial fighting spread, Heth reported that a "heavy force" had been encountered in and around Gettysburg. A short lull developed around noon as reinforcements for both sides began to arrive on the field and soldiers rushed about to occupy various positions.

Men of Ewell's corps, a full division under the command of Major General Robert Rodes, arrived on the field out of the northeast and saw a thinly held line of Federal infantry

Confederate Army Retreating
TOP: The gatehouse to Evergreen Cemetery on Cemetery HilL ABOVE: The arrival of General Winfield Scott Hancock on Cemetery Hill during the battle served to rally the retreating soldiers, who rapidly reformed their lines to resist the oncoming Confederates.

in front of them. Sensing an advantage, Rodes ordered an immediate attack. In the rapidly changing situation, additional Federal infantry arrived as Rodes was forming his brigades into attack formations, but at 2 p.m. the Confederate leader ordered an attack. Federal brigades in partially protected positions poured a murderous fire into the Confederate attackers and casualties on both sides were enormous. By the end of the day, Heth had lost fifteen hundred men from his seventy-five-hundred-man division and the Iron Brigade had nearly ceased to exist. Entering the defense of McPherson's Ridge with 1,829 men, the westerners had suffered a staggering 1,153 casualties by the end of the day.

At 3 p.m., the Confederate army began a heavy assault against the Federal defenders in positions north of the town. Ewell's subor dinates, Jubal A. Early and Rodes, pressed against the Federal XI Corps from the north and Heth, reinforced by the arrival of William Dorsey Pender's division, attacked I Corps from out of the west. Under this terrible, unrelenting pressure I Corps broke and fled into the town. These men and the soldiers of XI Corps moved through Gettysburg into positions south of the town—Cemetery Hill, Culp's Hill, and Cemetery Ridge—and the two hills at the southern end of the ridge, Little Round Top and Big Round Top.

These were strong positions, but they were long and would require additional reinforcements if the new defensive line was to be held. All available men, including the decimated Iron Brigade, were sent to hold this line as III Corps and XII Corps marched to their aid.

Bayard Wilkeson
Young Lieutenant Bayard Wilkeson and his small battery, Co. G, 4th U.S. Artillery, fire on the Confederate lines from exposed positions. The nineteen-year-old officer lost his life here.

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As the tired, bloodied Federal troops climbed into positions at Cemetery Hill, Lee sent his aide Walter Taylor to Ewell with the request that Ewell continue to push forward, "if practicable," and secure the strategic heights. Ewell, a veteran who had served under Stonewall Jackson—a general who had left no ambiguity in orders to subordinates— was new to command at this level and did not drive forward as the aggressive Jackson might have done in this situation.

It was at this point that Longstreet argued for shifting over to the defensive, into positions between the Army of the Potomac and Washington, and forcing Meade to attack them while they were in strong positions. Lee disagreed with this attempt to change the battle plan in the face of the enemy, and

Confederate Hills

Severe fighting occurred as defenders met attackers in the fields and hills surrounding Gettysburg. Flags, the most recognizable symbols of the individual combat units, were sought-after trophies, and tremendous fights developed over their possession.

Mine Creek Battlefield

Harvard graduate Colonel Strong Vincent led his brigade to Little Round Top, a strategic posit urn that was soon to receive the attention of the Confederate army. He fell, mortally wounded, while rallying his sorely pressed soldiers; they eventually received reinforcements and were able to hold their positions.

Harvard graduate Colonel Strong Vincent led his brigade to Little Round Top, a strategic posit urn that was soon to receive the attention of the Confederate army. He fell, mortally wounded, while rallying his sorely pressed soldiers; they eventually received reinforcements and were able to hold their positions.

after a delay in the anticipated attack by Ewell, Lee rode to Jackson's successor's headquarters. By the time Lee arrived, the possibility of gaining the advantage had been lost—III Corps and XII Corps had arrived at Cemetery Ridge.

Meade had inspected the new defensive line on the low hills just south of Gettysburg and decided to fight the battle from there.

The morning of July 2 opened with additional troop movements. Longstreet continued to suggest that his battle plan be adopted. Lee declined again and began to issue verbal orders to his corps commanders. Interestingly, Lee prepared no written orders. Also, he seemed to be ill as the battle developed. Some officers reported that Lee was suffering from severe diarrhea, but his illness may have been more severe than these observers thought. The commander had experienced sharp pain in his chest and arms earlier in the year, which may have been symptoms of heart disease—angina—brought on by the stress of battle.

This was less than an excellent day for the Confederate commanders. Longstreet, possibly irritated that Lee had rejected his suggestion as to how to fight the battle, delayed in opening his attack. Regardless of the reason for the delay, Longstreet did not get his corps moving until noon. Unity of command—having one commander in charge during battle—is a basic military principle that was in danger at this point in the battle of Gettysburg. Neither Lee's disappointment at the day's progress nor the pain from his illness were improved by the long-awaited arrival of his missing cavalry commander, Jeb Stuart, to headquarters (Stuart showed up just as Longstreet was ordering his corps into motion).

Lee was visibly angry at Stuart and involuntarily raised his hand as if to strike the tardy cavalry commander. By riding around the entire Federal army (in a raid that may

What Was The Confederate Army
Little Round Top was the critical point in the Union line. If the Confederate attack had broken through there, the result of the Battle of Gettysburg may have been different.

have been planned to recover some of the prestige he had lost at Brandy Station), Stuart had left Lee without speedy and reliable intelligence in the face of a large army while deep within enemy territory. Lee had been forced to send eight separate couriers riding rapidly through Pennsylvania, in all directions, to deliver the message that a great battle was to be fought at Gettysburg and that Stuart was needed. Fortunately for Stuart, Lee soon put aside his anger and asked for his subordinate's help in winning the battle.

After the delay caused by Lee's preoccupation with the plans of his subordinates, the attack was opened on the second day, after

3 P.M., by Longstreet. One of Longstreet's divisions, commanded by Lafayette McLaws, had expected little or no opposition as he moved into his assigned assault position, but was surprised by a large mass of Federal soldiers in his front and on both flanks. These Union regiments were in positions they should not have occupied.

Curiously, part of the Union army had moved from its assigned position along Cemetery Ridge and left the south flank of the Union defensive line, dangerously weakening it. Meade rode to the commander of the out-of-place troops, Major General Daniel Sickles, but it was too late to pull them back.

The attack had begun and Sickles was dangerously exposed.

At nearly the same time, Confederate General Gouverneur K. Warren discovered a key position, which was undefended, from which artillery, once in position, could fire on the entire Federal line. He ordered the diversion of reserves before Alabama troops could continue their attack from Big Round Top. The war may have been saved for the Union by the aggressive defenders, the 20th Maine commanded by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain, on Little Round Top. Each attack by the Alabama troops was repulsed, but at great cost. The 20th Maine lost 120 men in its defense of Little Round Top.

Sickles' III Corps was forced back from its advanced position with a severe number of casualties, but the main line was secure. Meade was able to shift troops from quiet portions of his line to areas under attack as poorly timed Confederate attacks continued to drive up casualties on both sides. Hill attacked late in the day with minor results and Ewell was unable to get his assault—an

General George Pickett

ABOVE: General George Pickett was the commander of the Virginians ordered to attack the Union defenders on Cemetery Ridge. He carried out the order despite the fact that he must have understood the peril his men faced—one of his brigades lost eighty-eight men while waiting to attack. BELOW: Culp's Hill as seen from Cemetery HilL

ABOVE: General George Pickett was the commander of the Virginians ordered to attack the Union defenders on Cemetery Ridge. He carried out the order despite the fact that he must have understood the peril his men faced—one of his brigades lost eighty-eight men while waiting to attack. BELOW: Culp's Hill as seen from Cemetery HilL

attack that should have been timed to coincide with that of Longstreet—launched until around 6 p.m. Ewell's men managed to reach Cemetery Hill, but could not hold their advanced, unsupported positions and were withdrawn. The Army of the Potomac had managed to hold the line against the Army of Northern Virginia.

The third day began with conferences on both sides. Lee was determined to continue with the attack, but Longstreet—as he had throughout the entire battle—had a different opinion. On the Federal side, Meade was unsure of what course to take and made the decision to remain and fight it out on the hills to the south of Gettysburg after a council of his officers recommended that plan.

Ewell would soon be making a diversionary attack at Culp's Hill; the main assault would be made by divisions under the command of Longstreet. Long remembered in history as "Pickett's Charge," the attack against the center of the Union line was composed of three divisions: Pettigrew's, Trimble's, and Pickett's. At 3 p.m., the fifteen

Confederate Forces

The valiant 1st Maryland Battalion, noted for its extremely brave men, was among the many Confederate forces to be decimated attempting to ivrest Culp's Hill from Federal defenders.

thousand Confederate soldiers of these divisions were ordered to march across fourteen hundred yards of open ground toward approximately ten thousand Federal soldiers in protected positions. All of the available Union artillery began to fire into the orderly ranks of Confederate soldiers as they came within range. The effect of the cannon fire was devastating and large numbers of men began to fall. Under fire from artillery as well as volleys from entrenched infantry, the Confederate formations began to entangle as they were forced to the center. General James Kemper tried to get his men moving toward the correct objective, but he himself was severely wounded.

The mob of Confederates in the center of the attack was massed fifteen to thirty deep as General Richard Garnett rode into it to restore order to the assault. Soon after, he was shot from his horse and killed.

The Union defensive line was broken as the Federal artillery position, Cushing's Battery, fired its last double-shotted canister into the attackers. Cushing was killed as General Lewis Armistead placed his hat on the tip of his sword and led his men in a breakthrough. Armistead was mortally wounded as he reached Cushing's guns, but his men pressed onward as nearby Union reserve regiments mounted a counterattack.

The attacker in a case like this is in a difficult position. The losses over the open ground had been tremendous and the Confederate reserves were too far in the rear to be able to exploit the breakthrough. The

1. General Pickett's Division. Armistead, Garnett. and Kemper form in the woods behind their artillery at the southern end of Seminary Ridge.

2. Union artillery opens on Pickett's men. As soon as the Confederates pass through their own artillery, batteri-ies all along the Union line open fire on them.

3. Pickett closes ranks with Pettigrew. Halfway across, in the midst of heavy Union fire. Picket's division executes left oblique and closes with Pettigrew's division, which was approaching from the northern end of Semi-nan,- Ridge.

Confederate Ranks

5. Shooting high. Many of the rounds fired by the Confederate artillery overshoot the Union batteries and fall in the rear.

HIGH WAIEK MARK

Profile of Pickett's Charge

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Confederate Forces Involved in Pickett's Charge

Confederate Forces not Involved in Pickett's Charge

Main Points of Confederate Assault

Position of Union torces w

Union Forces that Maneuvered during the Assault

Artillery Positions

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Gettysburg: Pickett's Charge July 3, 1863

Overhead View of Pickett's Charge

1. General Pickett's Division. Armistead, Garnett. and Kemper form in the woods behind their artillery at the southern end of Seminary Ridge.

2. Union artillery opens on Pickett's men. As soon as the Confederates pass through their own artillery, batteri-ies all along the Union line open fire on them.

3. Pickett closes ranks with Pettigrew. Halfway across, in the midst of heavy Union fire. Picket's division executes left oblique and closes with Pettigrew's division, which was approaching from the northern end of Semi-nan,- Ridge.

Profile of Pickett's Charge

4. High water mark. Armistead and Garnett's bigades breach the Union lines at the "Angle." Armistead leads several hundred Confederates over the stone wall and falls near Cushing's batttery. The Confederate assault is stopped, the survivors fall back.

5. Shooting high. Many of the rounds fired by the Confederate artillery overshoot the Union batteries and fall in the rear.

HIGH WAIEK MARK

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Confederate general Leivis A. Armistead, one of Pickett's brigade commanders, placed his hat upon his sword as he led his men into the Union defenses. He was mortally wounded during the charge and died near his close friend General Winfield Scott Hancock, who was also lying wounded nearby.

surviving attackers who had penetrated into the Union defenses were too few in number to be able to hold their position in the face of the numerous Federal troops who rushed forward to plug the gap in the line. Within minutes, all of the Confederates who had passed into the Union lines were dead, wounded, or taken prisoner. Meanwhile, additional Federal regiments began to converge on the point of the breakthrough.

The attack was over. Large groups of Confederates began to move down the slopes of Cemetery Ridge toward the rear. Pickett had lost nearly half of his soldiers in the attack against the center of the Federal line at Gettysburg. He had lost two generals out of three engaged and the third was severely wounded. Every regimental commander in his division had fallen in the charge. The best of the South s officer corps fell along with very large numbers of soldiers. With the loss of these men, the ability to conduct full-scale offensive operations was also lost to the Confederacy at Gettysburg.

Creek Confederacy
Union artillerymen were instrumental in halting the Confederate Army at Gettysburg. Experienced gunners, well supplied with ammunition, began to decimate Pickett's division as it crossed the broad field at the foot of Cemetery Ridge.

The third day's fighting, however, was not over. General Judson Kilpatrick lived up to his nickname, "Kill Cavalry," by ordering a foolhardy cavalry charge against the right wing of Longstreet. The charge, lead by Brigadier General Elon Farnsworth, resulted in little actual gain, and Farnsworth, who had objected to the plan, was killed in the attack. Stuart was engaged on the other end of the Federal line with his tired troopers and was repulsed by Federal cavalry as he attempted to attack Meade's northern flank. The battle was coming to an end.

Lee waited for a Federal attack from new positions on Seminary Ridge, but Meade knew the commander of the Confederate army was simply inviting him to attack and avoided the temptation. Moving a company the size of the Union army at Gettysburg from a defensive posture into a counterattack is extremely difficult and can lead to disaster. Meade had been in command of the Army of the Potomac for only six days and had spent the last three of them fighting one of the most ferocious battles in history. Faced with an opponent who was viewed as a military genius at the time, Meade probably made the correct decision.

A severe storm developed in the afternoon of July 4 and Lee ordered the Army of

Northern Virginia to make its preparations for the return to Virginia. The retreat took days; it was not until July 14 that Lee's army was across the Potomac (his engineers had built a hasty bridge across the river at Falling Waters). With approximately half of the army safely across, the Federal cavalry began its attack. Henry Heth's rear guard, under the command of General Pettigrew, fought tenaciously and broke up the cavalry charge, but Pettigrew himself was mortally wounded. This rear-guard action gave the Army of Northern Virginia the opportunity to escape. The raid into the North had resulted in a terrible loss for the Confederates—one from which they never recovered. As Lee was losing the battle in Pennsylvania, Grant was securing the Mississippi for the Union. The guns fell silent in both places on July 3 and when the dust cleared, it was apparent the rebel states had taken a beating: the Confederacy had been split along the Mississippi while the best army available to the South had been decimated in the North.

Casualties were high on both sides at Gettysburg. Meade lost slightly over twenty-three thousand men, primarily from two of his seven corps—in fact, those two corps ceased to exist at all after the battle. I and III Corps had suffered so many casualties that the survivors were simply incorporated into other commands rather than rebuilt with reinforcements. Confederate losses are estimated differently by various authorities, but they lost at least 20,500 soldiers at Gettysburg. The raw figures, however, don't tell the whole story. Percentagewise, the death count was severe: the Federal army lost 26 percent of its total strength and the Confederates lost approximately 28 percent.

A great deal of controversy remains regarding the conduct of the battle. Lee stated that he would have won the battle if he had had Stonewall Jackson with his army, and this appears to be a reasonable

Confederate Army
Federal general Hugh Judson Kilpatrick lived up to his nickname, "Kill Cavalry," by ordering one of his brigades to charge Longstreet's men. The attacking brigade's commander, Elon f. Farnsivorth, lost his life in an attack that gained nothing.

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