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Essay/Term paper: Gettysburg

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Humanities

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The Battle of Gettysburg



The beginning of the campaign of Gettysburg began after Lee won in Chancellorsville. He knew that if the South were to win a decisive battle in the North then European powers might shift in favor of the South and they might begin helping them. Lee also needed supplies and food for his army which the North had plenty of.

Before Lee invaded though, he had to go to Richmond, Virginia and consult the President of the South, Jefferson Davis. It did not take much convincing to get Jefferson Davis to believe that invading the North would be a smart and logical idea.

Before Lee left he reorganized his army by putting four cavalry divisions under the command of James Ewell Brown Stuart (Jeb Stuart). On June 3rd Lee began marching his army toward Culpepper, Va.

The Confederate (CS) Army was composed of 60,000 soldiers which were in three divisions. The Corps I was under the command of James Longstreet. The Corps II was commanded by General Richard S. Ewell. And the Corps III was commanded by Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell Hill (A.P. Hill).

The Union Army was under the command of General Hooker who resigned before the battle of Gettysburg and then under the command of General Meade. The Union army had 100,000 soldiers and 1 cavalry division.

There were six battles in the campaign of Gettysburg before the actual battle in Gettysburg, PA. These Battles were the battle of Brandy Station, the battle of Winchester and Stephenson's Depot, the battle of Middleburg and Upperville, the battle of Aldie, and the battle of Falling waters.

The battle of Brandy Station began on June 9th, when Federal cavalry divisions broke through Confederate lines and rode toward Brandy Station. Major Cabell E. Flouroy of the 6th VA woke up and heard the cavalry charging toward them. He rousted 100 soldiers and foolishly charged the cavalry. He then retreated because he was losing. Jeb Stuart heard a gunshot and sent his cavalry to safety in Culpepper. When the battle was over at 4 P.M., 866 Federal troops were killed and only 523 Confederates were killed. The Confederate causalities included Lee's son who was shot in the thigh in the fighting but didn't die.

The Battle of Winchester took place on June 13. Lee sent Ewell's Corps II ahead of the rest of the Confederate Army to Winchester. The Union Commander at Winchester was named Milroy. He was ordered to go to Harper's Ferry to get a better defensive position but Milroy insisted that he could stop any Confederate attack. He moved all of his men into three forts surrounding the city. The Confederate troops attacked all three forts and Milroy thought that he was being surrounded but Ewell knew that Milroy would think this so before Milroy retreated Ewell sent a force of 3,500 soldiers to ambush Milroy.

The battle between the retreating Union soldiers and the 3,500 men that Ewell sent

ahead took place at Stephenson's Depot. This battle was fought from 3 A.M. until dawn on the morning of June 14th. The Confederate Corps II came out of both battles victorious. The Confederate forces inflicted 433 casualties, 3388 captured, 23 guns captured, and 300 wagons full of supplies. The Confederate forces only lost 269 men.

The Union officers General Kilpatrick and Colonel Duffie were going to rendezvous at Middleburg but once Kilpatrick arrived at Middleburg he found himself surrounded by three brigades of Confederate forces. Kilpatrick did manage to get away from the Confederate troops but it took him three days and cost him 200 of his men. The battle of Upperville began when Jeb Stuart's cavalry withdrew to a ridge west of Middleburg, to pursue Union General Greggs division of men. Union General Pleasanton pushed Jeb Stuart's cavalry eight miles west of Upperville on June 21st. Stuart then tried to retreat through Ashby's Gap. General Greggs fought a small melee against Confederate General Wade Hampton. Then one mile North of Upperville US General Buford was stopped by CS general Jones. In this skirmish, The US received 613 dead, wounded, or captured, while the CS only received 510 dead, wounded, or captured.

General Hooker was the supreme commander of the Army of the Potomac during the battle at Chancellorsville which the Confederates lost. Lincoln thought that Hooker made a mistake at Chancellorsville because he thought the war could have been won then. Hooker resigned six days before the battle of Gettysburg. Meade was then ordered to take Hookers place. Meade refused at first but then accepted. Lincoln and his cabinet wanted to fire Hooker but it would look bad politically, so they waited for him to mess up and then they hoped he would resign. This indeed did happen as they planned. When Hooker resigned he thought he would have to argue for it nut Lincoln and his Cabinet gave it to him without and resistance.

Meade wasn't sure what he was going to do when he was given the command of the Army of the Potomac. He decided he would follow Lee's Army to Gettysburg while keeping Washington and Baltimore well defended.

The battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863. Lt. Marcellus E. Jones of the US fired the first shot while trying to hit a CS officer at a range of 700 yards. He missed then retreated not hoping to hit the officer but slow him down. 70,000 CS troops would participate in the battle and 90,000 US troops would participate.

Meade was hoping for the meeting of the two forces to be 20 miles southeast Gettysburg, so he had Union engineers build trenches along Pipe creek. The battle took place much closer to Gettysburg. The ridges that were west of Gettysburg ran North to South about one mile from the town. The first CS troops to arrive encountered Herr Ridge which was named after a tavern located on its crest. 900 Yards east of Herr Ridge there was a small stream called Willoughby Run.

Past Willoughby Run there was McPherson's ridge and 17- acres of woods called McPherson's Woods. McPherson's Ridge and Seminary Ridge merged to form Oak Ridge. Oak Ridge extended 80 feet above The flat ground. There was a road which cut through all three ridges and parallel to that road was an unfinished railroad bed twenty feet deep.

The roads which came from Gettysburg went in this order clockwise starting from the Northwest part of Gettysburg: Chambersburg Pike, then North of the town the road leading the Heidlesburg, then Northeast of the town a road leading to York, then Southeast were roads going to Baltimore and Hanover and Taneytown, to the South of the town roads led to Emmitsburg and Hagerstown.

The real fighting began at Willoughby Run when US General John Buford engaged CS General Heather. The union had 2748 soldiers while the Confederates had 7461 soldiers. The Union troops were able to hold off the CS troops for an hour. By that time the US I, XI, and III Corps arrived and the battle began to swing into the Unions favor. 2300 of the CS troops there were commanded by Jefferson Davis' nephew. US General Cutler ordered a charge on Davis' men. The charge was successful and ½ of Davis' men were either captured or killed.

At about 11:00 a silence fell over the battlefield. During the time between11:00 and 1:00, this time was just a race for reinforcements. Once the fighting began again the Union troops were slightly outnumbered until The XI corps under the command of General Howard arrived. The XI Corps ran all the way from Taneytown to arrive at Gettysburg.

General Howard wanted to keep Cemetary Hill so he sent General Adolph Van Steinwehr to protect it. There General Adolph spread his men out into a very thin line. CS General Robert Rodes came out of the nearby woods with 7983 men. Rodes was sent a day before to keep tabs on the US troops in the area. Lee told him not to engage the enemy until the entire CS Army was at Gettysburg. When Rodes arrived he saw the right flank of the I Corps open and decided to attack. He began to shell the I Corps but the battle then began to swing in favor of the Union. At 2:00 Rodes decided to attack again without any reconiassance. On Rodes' left was a brigade of Veteran Georgians under the command of General Dole. Just ahead of Dole was a ¼ mile gap between the US I and XI Corps. To Doles right was a Brigad e of Veteran Alambamians who performed poorly at Chancellorsville. They were commanded by Colonel O'Neil. Beyon O'Neil was a Brigadier General whose advancement in the CS Army was because of family influence. His name was General Alfred Iverson Jr. Behind him was CS General Junius Daniel who went to West Point. The attacking US troops hit O'Neil and Iverson the heaviest. O'Neil and Iverson were supposed to attack together. O'Neil attacked without Iverson because Iverson was waiting for CS artillery to punch a hole in Union lines. When the attack was over, O'Neil had lost 696 of his 1688 men. When O'Neil was defeated it left Iverson's left flank open so his men drifted down cemetary hill going left. The came within 30 feet of a stone wall and US soldiers opened fire on them. 500 men fell while 400 were taken prisoner. It took 15 minutes for the US troops to end the fight. When it was over only about 400 of Iverson's men were still alive.

CS General Daniel wanted to get to Chambersburg pike to outflank General Cutler's flank. Daniel wasn't aware of the railroed cut that lay there. Once he was within 40 feet of the cut Union guns opened up on his flanks. The US troops began closing in on the Cs troops but A.P. Hill's men opened up at the Unions troops. The US trops began to retreat back to the cut. The Union opened up again on Daniels men when they were only 20 feet away, decimating the ranks.

On the afternoon of July 1st, General Lee arrived on Herr Ridge to watch the fighting. He rode with I Corps but once he heard artillery fire he rode ahead and passed through I Corps. When Lee arrived on Herr Ridge he saw that the US troop were deployed in and angle fashion and he wanted to crush the with I Corps. The battle began to tip in favor of the CS when Early's Division arrived.

The only US troops that were not fighting were Abner Doubleday's men. CS General Heth began to move towrd McPherson's ridge. He was hit in the head but didnt die, when he was crossing Willoughby Run. His second in command took over and 14 colorbearesr were killed within 15 minutes of fighting for the CS. However the CS troops did manage to push Doubleday's troop back to Seminary Ridge. The defense for McPherson's Rdge was costly. 1,829 of 1153 US troops died, and 1,500 of 1,700 of Heth's men were killed.

Winfield Scott Hancock then took command of the forces at Gettyxburg but was still outranked by General Howard. Hancock and Howard worked out a way of sharing command. The had an advantage that Lee noticed and he ordered Ewell to attack the US III and XII Corps. Ewell still did not attack even after Lee had cam epersonally to order hi to attack. Since Ewell did not attack Lee lost his chance to take cemetary hill.

During the second day of fighting, the two main battles were those of BigRound Top and Little Round Top. By the second day the Union had embedded themselves in a 3 mile long pickett line on Cemetary Hill. Meade first arrived at Gettysburg on July 2. During the day Meade expected 95,00 of his men to be at Getysburg, which was his full army. There was a small hill called Devils' Den just NW of Big Round Top. Devil's Den was surrounded by a small creek called Plain Run.

CS General Mood was ordered to go to Devils Den,but he disobeyed and went to try to outflank the US Army on Big round Top. When CS General Oates stood at the bottom of Big Round Top he knew that if he could get artillery pieces on top of it he could control Gettysburg. He boasted and said he could hold Big Round Top against ten times the amount of men he had. He and his men began to ascend Big round Top but US soldeires behind boulders opened up fire on them. They were deployed there by General Sykes from the V Corps. US soldiers were ordered to kepp Little Round Top. They placed artillery pieces on Little Round Top and began firing upon approaching Confederates.

By the end of the second day the US V Corps controlled Little Round Top and Big Round Top. They had places a pickett line fron the crest of Little Round Top to the crest of Big Round Top.

During the fighting on the third day, the main event was Picket's Charge. General Pickett received a letter telling him to advance on the Union forces at the angle. The angle was a stone wall that formed a right angle. It was a weak point in the Union lines. When General Pickett went to ask General Longstreet if that was an acceptable order, all Longstreet did was nod his head because he knew what Pickett was going to do was suicide for his men. Picketts men were ordered to move silently through the woods before the angle. The US troops saw the Cs troops coming but waited fro the last possible second to fire. When Pickett came out of the woods his men were being knocked down by Union guns. Picketts men moved across the Emmittsburg Rd. to the angle. Only a small part of his charge was effective. The Union line was not broken but if it had been then Meade would have most likely been killed because his headquarters were 1/8 of a mile past the Union line. Picketts men began to retreat after they realized a hole could not be made in the Union line. The battle ended July 3rd. Pickett lost 7,00 men in the charge.

The aftermath of Gettysburg was astonishing. 150,000 men went into the battle and 50,000 of them died. There were 5,000 dead horses. There were so many dead horses the people of Gettysburg had to pile the bodies and burn the horses. The US lost 23,049 men. There was only one civilian casualty. It was a woman who was kneading dough in her kitchen when a bullet pierced through two wooden doors and killed her instantly. General Meade would be replaced by General Grant later on. 

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