The Battle of Gettysburg: A Tale of Two Flags

In April 1861, the Confederate troops attacked the U.S. military outpost at Fort Sumter , South Carolina . This attack signaled the beginning of a new fight for independence between various sections of the United States. The chief philosophical difference was over the right for men to keep other men as slaves. This was a common practice in the southern states, and was strongly opposed by northern states. Conversely, the southern states believed that the northern states controlled the policies and practices of the United States. Because of these differences, eleven southern states seceded from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America.

The early stages of the Civil War saw the Confederacy achieve many victories and they began feeling confident that they would be achieving victory in the War. However, one of the major turning points of the war occurred on July 1-3, 1863. At the Battle of Gettysburg, the Union Army led by General George Meade defeated the Confederate Army which was led by General Robert E. Lee.

After three days of fighting, both sides sustained heavy losses, but the Confederate Army realized that they were not going to be successful and General Lee ordered a retreat. With over 50,000 causalities to both sides, the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest of the Civil War.

After the Battle of Gettysburg, the Union Army rallied to begin the final battles of the Civil War. Because of the tragic loss of life on the battlefield, the U.S. Government commissioned a national cemetery on the site of the battle. At the dedication ceremony, President Abraham Lincoln delivered one of the most famous speeches of all time – The Gettysburg Address. With the momentum of the victory at Gettysburg, the Union Army began the march that would ultimately lead to the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865.

Most historians agree that the Battle of Gettysburg was one of the most important points of the Civil War and was largely responsible for the victory by the Union Army . However, the victory was not without a price. This battle goes down in history as one of the most costly battles in terms of casualties in the history of our country. And, the fact that this was fought between members of the same country, as was the rest of the Civil War, left long term scars on the country that has taken decades to heal.

To learn more about this turning point of the Civil War, here are some resources: