Battle of Gettysburg

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The Battle of Gettysburg was fought by the largest number of soldiers, totaling 172,000 young men (“American Civil War”). During the Civil War, our nation was divided by the North (Union Army) and the South (Confederate Army) for opposing viewpoints on slavery and states’ rights. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought over three long, arduous days. The soldiers struggled under their respected generals in a 25 mile battle zone (“American Civil War”). This battle was a triumphant victory and a heart-wrenching loss for the troops of the Yankee North and Rebel South. The complexity of the Battle of Gettysburg brought together two fronts whose decisions and commitment would determine its outcome.

Many generals commanded forces during this battle. General Robert E. Lee was a confident Confederate commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. He believed one resolute victory would bring an end to the war. To secure this victory, General Lee devised an offensive attack on Northern land. His Rebel troops were split into three divisions (I, II, III Corps) with approximately 25,000 men each and commanded by Generals James Longstreet, Richard Ewell, and A.P. Hill. Under Lee’s order each Corps traveled north discreetly so as to not raise Union Army suspicion (King 8-9).

However, Lee’s strategy did not go unnoticed by the Union Army of the Potomac commander, Joseph Hooker. The movement of Confederate troops northward reduced the number of soldiers under Hooker’s watchful eye. He sent word to President Abraham Lincoln who, in response, ordered him to move the Union forces in the same direction to defend Washington, D.C. (King 10). However, Hooker moved to take a different course of action and wanted to attack the Confederacy’s capital of Richmond. Because of this breach of conduct, Hooker was replaced by General George Meade and never allowed to forge an attack on Richmond (Appleby 486).

News of Meade’s recruitment and the forward movement of the Union army over the Potomac...
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