Gettysburg (1166 words) Essay

GettysburgThe Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 through July 3, 1863,
marked a turning point in the Civil War. This is the most famous and
important Civil War Battle that occurred, around the small market town
of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Most importantly Gettysburg was the
clash between the two major American Cultures of there time: the
North and the South. The causes of the Civil War and the Battle of
Gettysburg, one must understand the differences between these two
cultures. The Confederacy (the South) had an agricultural economy
producing tobacco, sugar, and cotton, were found to thrive in the
South. With many large plantations owned by a few very wealthy rich
white males. These owners lived off the labor of sharecroppers and
slaves, charging high dues for the use of their land. “The Southern or
Confederate Army was made up of a group of white males fighting for
their independence from federal northern.” (McPheron, 33)
The cooler climate and rocky soil in the North were not suitable for
establishing plantations or large farms. The Northern States,
dedicated to a more modern way of life and to end slavery. The Union
(the North) economy was based on manufacturing, and even the
minorities in the North were better off than those in the South most of
the time. As a result, the North’s economy came to depend more on
trade than on agriculture. “Such an economy favored the growth of
cities, though most Northerners still live in rural areas.” (McPheron
43) The Northern politicians wanted tariffs, and a large army. The
Southern plantation owners wanted the exact opposite. The
Southerners enjoyed a prosperous agricultural based on slave labor and
wished to keep their old way of life.

The South was fighting against the government that they thought was
treating them unfairly. They believed the Federal Government was
overtaxing them, with tariffs and property taxes making their lifestyles
even more expensive than they already had been. The North was
fighting the Civil War for two reasons, first to keep the Nation
Unified, and second to abolish slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the
Commander and Chief of the Union or Northern forces along with
many other Northerners believed that slavery was not only completely
wrong, but it was great humiliation to America. One can see that with
these differences a conflict would surely occur, but not many had
predicted that full-blown war would breakout. One did and after three
bloody and costly years for both sides we come to the date of July 1,

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Before the Battle of Gettysburg, major cities in the North such as
Philadelphia, Baltimore, and even Washington, were under threat of
attack from General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern
Virginia which had crossed the Potomac River and marched into

On Tuesday morning, June 30, 1863, an infantry brigade of
Confederate soldiers searching for shoes headed toward Gettysburg.
“The Confederate commander spotted a long column of Federal
cavalry heading toward the town. He withdrew his brigade and
informed his superior, General Henry Heth, who in turn told his
superior, A.P. Hill, he would go back the following morning for shoes
that were desperately needed.” (Coddington, 289)
The battle began on July 1, 1863, when some of General Ambrose
Powell Hill’s advance brigades entered the town of Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania looking for shoes. “Due to General Stuart’s failure to
complete his mission of tracking the Union Army, Hill’s troops
encountered a Union cavalry division command by Major General John
Buford.” (Microsoft Encarta, Battle of Gettysburg) During battle in
front of Cemetery Hill, General Hill was faced with stubborn
resistance from the Union forces trying to hold until the rest of the
forces could arrive and help out. “Having made his decision to stay at
Gettysburg and go on the offensive, General Robert E. Lee pondered
the best way to carry it out. From the close of the first day’s fighting
until late that night he discussed battle plans with his generals. He
held no council of war, nor time, even informally. Instead he himself
rode out to consult with each corps commanders and his chief
subordinates, and he saw other officers individually or in groups at his
headquarters.” (Coddington, 363) General Robert E. Lee ordered
several brigades to travel east to check their location and to search for
supplies for his troops. Northwest of the town of Gettysburg they met.
A skirmish ensued and as the battle heated, word was sent back to
both commanders that the enemy was found and reinforcement troops
proceeded to the area. Over the next two days General Robert E.
Lee’s army converged onto Gettysburg from the west and north while
General George Meade’s army arrived from the south and southeast.
Thus a battle never planned occurred simply by circumstance.
Although, the Confederates won the day, General Ewell made the
mistake of not allowing General Hill to force the Union troops with
higher ground, and this the conclusion of day one.

As Southern forces continued a relentless attack against the entrenched
Union troops, the additional arriving Confederate forces launched an
all-out offensive which drove the Union forces through the streets of
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to a defensive line south of town. Thus,
after the first day of battle the five mile Confederate line traveled from
Seminary Ridge on the west side of the town of Gettysburg, through
the town and eastward toward the area called Culp’s Hill.

On the following day, July 2, 1863, a series of uncoordinated and
fragmented Confederate attacks on the Union defensive position south
of the town. While simultaneous attacks were supposed to have
occurred on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Ridge, the attacks took place
six hours apart and were unsuccessful. The Union forces held onto
Culp’s Hill, the Confederate forces did drive back the Union troops in
areas referred to as the Peach Orchard, Wheat field, Valley of Death
and Devils Den with a staggering amount of casualties. The
Confederate advance of the right flank had initially succeeded but was
stopped by heroic efforts of Union forces in an area known as Little
Round Top. “All during the morning of Thursday, July 2, as both
Lee and Meade planned their operations and deployed their troops,
advance detachments of both armies kept up a lively fire.”
(Coddington, 385)
General George Meade, Commander of the Union Army of the
Potomac arrived, along with the majority of the army. “General
George Meade, formed his forces in a widely recognizable horse shoe
formation, anchored at Big and Little Round Top on the West Culp’s
Hill on the East, and got positioned in behind a stonewall along
Cemetery Ridge. The large Union forces faced an ad-hoc formation of
Southern Troops preparing for a hasty attack. The Confederate forces
roughly mirrored the Union line, commanded left to right or east to
west by James Longstreet, Amrose Powell Hill, and Richard Ewell.”
(Coddington, 392)
Having been basically successful in two days of battle with the Union
Army, General Robert E. Lee, believing his Army was invincible and
undefeatable, decided to attack what he thought to be the weakest
position of the Union line the next day. At the some time General
George Meade held a conceal of war with his crop Commanders and
decided made by both Commanders would lead to one of the most
famous days of the American Civil War.

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