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.

Civil War Paintings Gen Jubal Early


As the sun was setting on Thursday, July 2, two brigades from Confederate General Jubal Early's division rushed Union troops gathered around the gatehouse of Gettysburg's cemetery. They nearly succeeded in getting Meade's men off the hill. Then Union reinforcements pushed them back down, with many casualties. Newspaper artist Arthur Berghaus witnessed the fight and sketched this scene on the battlefield.


Southerners in Pickett's Charge actually reached the Union battle lines. In this painting of the charge, Confederate General Lewis Armistead is seen in the background with his upraised sword beside a Union cannon. He was mortally wounded on the spot. Armistead was the highest-ranking Southerner to reach the Union line.

BATTLE VETERAN HARRY HAYS Confederate General Harry Hays led troops in the desperate dusk attack on the Union army's position around the cemetery on July 2. He was defeated, but survived the battle. Later in the war, he was seriously wounded. He recovered and years later served as sheriff of New Orleans.

Canister Gettysburg

Gunner ramming in Drum modeled on the instrument a canister round shown on the opposite page

Little Round Top

Small grove of trees that marked the center of Meade's lines

Battle Mine CreekGettysburg Union Uniforms

Animal hide drum head

Strapping to keep the drum head taut

Hand-painted eagle and crest

Union Flag Gettysburg

Animal hide drum head


When a Union or Confederate regiment served honorably in a battle, it was permitted to stitch the name of that fight onto its battle flag. Here is the flag of the 15th Louisiana Regiment. Just below the center of its blue Saint Andrew's cross is stitched its Gettysburg battle honor. The men of the regiment carried this banner in that Pennsylvania fight.


Photographers showed up at Gettysburg immediately after the battle. One used a stereo camera to take a picture of these dead Georgia and South Carolina soldiers. This photograph is one of a pair of pictures viewed with a stereopticon, a nineteenth-century 3-D viewer.


This drum was found on the battlefield. It was used as a model for a drum that is seen in a famous painting of the fight by artist Peter Rothermel. Drummers were often young boys who went into combat. They beat out signals on the drum that directed the troops to move one way or another.

Strapping to keep the drum head taut

Hand-painted eagle and crest

LITTLE ROUND TOP This hill gave soldiers a view of most of the Gettysburg battlefield. Both armies knew they needed to seize it if they wanted to win the fight. Georgia and Alabama troops charged it several times and were defeated by men of the 20th Maine Regiment. The Maine troops ran out of bullets, but they beat the Southerners by surprising them with a bayonet charge.

Small grove of trees that marked the center of Meade's lines

Gettysburg Union GraveCivil War Bullets Tree Gettysburg


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