The American Civil War was raging on in 1863. The war had begun in 1861 when serious differences arose between the southern states and the northern states. This led the southern states to separate from the Union and form their own government called the Confederacy. The northern states remained a part of the Union and decided to fight the southern states so that USA would remain united.
In May, 1863, the Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee had won a famous victory against a much larger Union army at the Battle of Chancellorsville. After this victory, the morale of the Confederate was high. So General Lee now decided to invade one of the northern states and hope that this would force the northern politicians to stop fighting with the south. For this purpose, he began the invasion of Pennsylvania. On the other hand, a Union army under Major General George E. Meade was sent to intercept him and stop his invasion.
The Union army was led by Major General George E. Meade. He commanded around 95,000 soldiers and his army was called the Army of the Potomac.
The Confederate army was led by General Robert E. Lee. Other famous Confederate commanders who were a part of this army included Lt. General James Longstreet and Brigadier General George Pickett. The Confederate army comprised of around 73,000 soldiers and was called the Army of Northern Virginia.
The battle began on July 1, 1863 and continued until July 3, 1863. It was fought in and around Gettysburg town in Pennsylvania.
On July 1, 1863, a large number of the Confederate soldiers reached near Gettysburg. The area was defended by a small number of Union soldiers while most of the Union army had not yet arrived. So the Confederate soldiers were able to quickly defeat the Union soldiers and forced them to retreat from the town of Gettysburg.
On July 2, 1863, the rest of the Union army also arrived and formed strong defenses. On the other side, the Confederate army also assembled and organized itself. The Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee launched many attacks on the Union army but despite heavy losses on both sides, the Union army was able to hold its defenses.
On July 3, 1863, General Robert E. Lee was desperate to win the battle. He sent 12,500 men under Brigadier General George Pickett to take the Union army head-on and attack the center. This was a devastating move. This attack was famously called the ‘Pickett’s Charge’. Nearly half of the men under General Pickett died in the attack and the attack was repulsed by the Union army. This finally forced Robert E. Lee to pull back the Confederate army and retreat.
The Battle of Gettysburg was a decisive victory for the Union. This battle is considered one of the turning points where the war started to turn in favor of the Union. But this was also the deadliest battle of the entire war. The Union army suffered 3100 deaths and a total of around 23,000 casualties. The Confederate army suffered much more deaths and a total of around 25,000 casualties.