Today, many people believe this epic battle still lingers on in the now empty fields of  Pennsylvania, by restless souls that are eternally bound to relive the agony and trauma endured where they died. A terrible war is still being playing out, by those who forever forged the future of America. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought between July 1–3, 1863, in and around the small township of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. To date it has been the single most battle in American history with the largest number of casualties, and the last major conflict of the Civil War. The battle is also taunted was also the largest single battle every fought in the history of the entire Western Hemisphere. Union Major General George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac was  able to deflect the massive attack of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. Ending Lee's onslaught invasion of the Northern States. It was after Lee’s success at Chancellorsville, Virginia in May 1863, that led Lee and his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second campaign against the North army, planned as the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee’ intention was to take the focus away from the war-ravaged hills of northern Virginia into the Northern States. Hoping to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far north as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, possibly even into Philadelphia. Ordered by President Abraham Lincoln, Major General Joseph Hooker moved his army to pursue Lee, but was relieved by General Meade’s reinforcements only three days before the battle ensued. The two armies collided on the fields of Gettysburg farmers on the morning of July 1, 1863, as Lee concentrated his forces just south of the township. His objective was to engage the Union army and destroy it. The low ridges to the northwest of the town were initially defended by a Union cavalry division, which was reinforced by two corps of Union infantry. However, there were surprised by an assaulted from two large Confederate corps from the northwest and north, collapsing the poorly planned and defended Union lines, sending the Union defenders in retreat through the streets of the Gettysburg township to the hills to the south. By the second day of battle, both armies had fully assembled, and the Union line drawn by a defensive formation resembling a fishing hook. Forcing Lee to launch a heavy assault on the Union’s left flank. The fierce fighting raged for many hours in four locations; Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union’s right, what began as skirmishes escalated into full-scale assaults on two fronts; Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill.  While other smaller battles raged on all across the Gettysburg countryside. Yet despite significant losses, the Union Army was able to defend their lines. By the third day of battle, ironically on the 3rd day of July, fighting escalated  on Culp's Hill, as cavalry battles raged to the east and to the south of Gettysburg. However the ‘main event’ was about to unfold with a dramatic infantry assault, by 12,500 Confederates from nine infantry brigades, against the center of the Union line, in a battle known as Pickett's Charge. Over 5,000 Confederate soldier’s were slaughtered by an unexpected Union artillery barrage and rifle fire from the top of the hill, in less than sixty seconds, and the battle raged on for seven long hours. The turning point of the Civil War began with three Confederate divisions, commanded by three of the confederacies brightest generals; Major General George Pickett, Brig. General J. Johnston Pettigrew, and Major General Isaac R. Trimble, whose troops all consisted from Lt. General James Longstreet's First Corps and Lt. General. A.P. Hill's Third Corps. Although the assault has been known throughout history as ‘Pickett's Charge,’ the actual command had been assigned to Lt. General James Longstreet to lead the charge. Pickett was actually one of the divisional commanders. Lee’s specific instructions to Longstreet were that since Pickett's division was ‘fresh,’ they should lead the assault, so the name ‘Pickett’s Charge,’ becomes appropriate. From the beginning, things began to go awry for the confederacy, as the battle was  planned to take place at the ‘copse of trees’ on Cemetery Ridge, and it is unclear how it ended up by the Corpse of Trees instead. While Pickett's division had yet to be used yet at Gettysburg, A.P. Hill's health became an issue and could not participate in the troop selection used for the charge. So it made sense that since Hill's corps had fought lightly on July 1st and not at all on the 2nd. Therefor those troops had been chosen to lead the first assault force in making the charge up the hill. Meanwhile, the Union troops had massed on the far right end of the battle line, to better retain control of the ill. As General Lee attempted to synchronize his offensive across the battlefield, keeping General Meade from concentrating his numerically superior force, unfortunately for the Confederacy, the planned assault had been poorly executed by Major General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson, who led the attacks against Culp's Hill,  petering out just as Longstreet began firing their cannons. Little did the confederate army know of the heavy artillery behind the union troops, taking them by complete surprise. The casualties were extreme among all the commanders in the charge. With Pickett's three brigade commanders and all thirteen of his regimental commanders listed among the casualties.  It became evident, that Pickett's Charge was a bloodbath. While the Union suffered approximately 1,500 killed or wounded, the Confederate casualties were more than half of their forces. Pickett's division - 498 killed, 643 wounded, 1481 captured. Pettigrew's had 470 killed in action, with 1,893 wounded and 337 captured. Trimble's two brigades lost 155 troops, with 650 wounded and 80 captured. With over 600 more troops killed from other confederate brigades. Thus, total losses during the attack were well over 6,555 men, some as young as twelve years old. The Union’s prisoner count was difficult to estimate, but estimated at around 3,750 soldiers. The battle was over, General Lee realized it was a decisive loss to the Confederacy. His army now broken, General Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. The Confederacy severely weakened, and moral low, a doorway had been opened for the Union to enter Atlanta in less than two years. General Robert E. Lee, defeated, he had no choice but to surrender on  April 9th, 1865 in Appomattox, Virginia.

Portrait of General Robert E. Lee, Confederate General from the State of Virigina.
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