GregCherryDr.HeadleyUSHistory B411December 17The Turning PointThe Battle of Gettysburg led to the combineddeath and injury of over 50,00 Union and Confederate soldiers, a numberunsurpassed to this day in any battle fought on American soil.
The Unionremained in a weakened state after they suffered a major loss of 12,000 men atthe Battle of Fredericksburg and Union General Joseph Hooker’s retreat at theBattle of Chancellorsville on May 5, 1863. The Confederate General Robert E. Leeresponded to the win at Chancellorsville by devising and executing a plan tobum-rush the Union forces in the Northern town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.Abraham Lincoln responded to the Union’s loss at Chancellorsville by removingGeneral Hooker from his command and replacing him with General George Meade. Meademarched north to extinguish Lee’s forces almost immediately after he wasassigned as the Union’s General.
Lee had already begun his forage of thePennsylvania farmlands near the end of June 1863. Lee sent troops into the townof Gettysburg in order to gather more intel on the enemy. The troops discoveredthat the Union cavalry was already waiting for them. The Confederate troopspushed the Union into the hills near Gettysburg and the battle had begun. Gettysburgbecame the turning point of the Civil War for the Union due to the military expertiseof the Generals, the pivotal location of the battle, and the overall battlestrategy.Robert E.
Lee was the general in commandof the Confederacy and General George Meade was in command of the Union duringGettysburg. Lee was born in Westmoreland County Virginia on January 19, 1807.Lee’s father, Henry Lee, was an exemplary cavalry officer during the AmericanRevolution. Henry Lee gained the nick-name “Light Horse Harry” forhis skill as a cavalry officer in the American Revolution. When Lee was a youngadult he was forced to move his family to Alexandria due to financial problems.While in Alexandria, Lee went to school and participated in outdoor activities.In 1825, Lee entered the US Military Academy at West Point. While attending theAcademy, Lee showed immense skill in his studies and military training.
Leeended up completing his studies second in his class. He married Mary AnnRandolph Custis two years after he finished school. Mary was a close descendentof Mary Washington. The family eventually moved with Lee due to his assignmentin the Midwest and then on to Washington. During the War with Mexico, Lee wasassigned to the army under General John E.
Wool and General Winfield Scott.During Lee’s assignment, he was wounded at the Battle of Chapultepec. Leereceived several promotions in rank after he distinguished himself as a soldierduring the war. General Robert E.
Lee and his army managed to accomplish fourdemoralizing losses against the Union army in 12 months. Lee’s most daringvictory was the Battle of Chancellorsville, although this battle cost Leenearly a fourth of his army, including one of his best commanders, GeneralThomas “Stonewall” Jackson. The battle caused Lee’s army to be lacking insupplies. General Lee believed his best hope lay in an invasion ofPennsylvania.
Lee knew that this would be a risk, but he decided to lead hisarmy north, although some of his officers were commanding a corps for the firsttime. Lee knew that a Confederate victory in Gettysburg would damage Northernmorale and corrupt the Union’s plans for that summer. He also was aware thatmoving the fight north would give Southern farmers enough time to plant andharvest, which would supply the Confederacy with food.General Meade was the Union Generalduring the battle of Gettysburg. Meade collected an expansive amount ofmilitary expertise throughout his life.
Meadewas born outside of the United States in Cadiz, Spain on December 31, 1815.Meade grew up for the most part in Philadelphia although his family later movednear Baltimore. Meade’s studies began at the US Military Academy at West Pointin 1831. Meade managed to finished 19th overall in his class. Meadewas assigned to the 3rd US Artillery and was moved to Florida.
Meade becameexhausted of the frustrations that came with military life, so he decided toresign in 1836. He went on to work as an engineer for a railroad company, buthe eventually decided in 1842 to re-enter into military service. He needed tojoin the military in order to provide a financially stable home for his newwife. His military life would eventually take him to Texas in 1845. While Meadewas in Texas, he was assigned to General Winfield Scott’s Army. He joined thearmy during the War with Mexico.
After the War with Mexico, Meade went back toPhiladelphia and engineered lighthouses on the Delaware Bay. The Civil War soon began and Meadedecided to offer his services to Pennsylvania. He was soon declared Brigadier Generalof volunteers. This meant that he would be in command of a brigade ofPennsylvania regiments. Meade became known for his short temper and hisstubbornness with the junior officers and sometimes the superiors as well, givinghim the nickname “The Old Snapping Turtle”. Meade became very woundedafter he refused to leave the battlefield during the Battle of Glendale on June30, 1862. Eventually the loss of blood was so drastic that it would prevent himfrom even resting in the saddle of his horse.
Meade later recovered from hiswounds and was enlisted as the Commander of the Division of “PennsylvaniaReserves”. Meade managed to lead his troops who were fighting at the Battles ofSouth Mountain and Antietam, Maryland, and Fredericksburg, Virginia, whileholding the position. He soon marched northward, catching up to Lee’s Army oncethey had crossed the Potomac River. Meade soon finalized a plan to move thearmy northward in order to find Lee. Meade continued to fight against Lee inGettysburg during the Confederate push north.Gettysburg became the turning point ofthe war due to its pivotal location in the North.
General Lee and theConfederate troops needed to push through the Mason-Dixon Line in order toreach Meade with the Union at Gettysburg. The Mason-Dixon Line is also known asthe dividing line between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Before and during theCivil War it was known as the dividing line between slave states and freestates.
The slave states would primarily be south of it and the free stateswould primarily be north of it. The soldiers of Gettysburg left their mark onthe terrain during the Confederate’s final push of the Mason-Dixon line inorder to breach into Northern territory and win the battle during the Civil Warone hundred years after Mason and Dixon mapped out the line. The 14thAmendment, which freed all men north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line nomatter what skin color they were, would also be created one hundred and oneyears after they completed the boundary. The pivotal location of Gettysburgalso affected the outcome of the timeline in which the battles within theregion of Gettysburg played out. Gettysburg had many fields, but also had manyhills with some small trees to provide cover.
The land contained peach orchardsand had small, boulder sized rocks.The battle strategy and materials used onboth sides of the Union and the Confederacy had a direct impact on the Unionvictory. Gettysburg used many different materials to fight the battle and usedabout three different types of bullets. The .
69caliber Round Shot was used in the older smoothbore weapons. The bullet had adeadly range of around 100 yards. The bullet was used throughout the action severaltimes during the first two years of the Civil War. The production of rifledmuskets improved during the war. The smoothbore muskets eventually becameobsolete. The second bullet used at Gettysburg wasthe .
577 Caliber Enfield, which can be found in many different shapes andsizes, more than any other Civil War bullet. It was also used by many differenttroops and was a large portion of the Federal Infantry. It was designed for acartridge that would be packed with the bullet positioned that was oppositefrom the usual American position because it was made in England. The bottom ofthe bullet would normally have engraved letters or numbers stamped on it. Theletters would tell of where the bullet was made and which caliber it was. TheU.S. Infantry eventually adopted a new standard for small fire arms that beganthe muzzleloading of .
58 caliber rifles and rifle muskets. These were designedto use for the newly developed Minié Ball bullet. The Minié ball was inventedin 1849 by Captain Claude Minié of the French army. The bullet was designedwith a hollow base which would expand once it was fired in order to grip thegrooves of the gun bore. This design would help make the range farther and increasethe accuracy of these new rifles. This design would make the Minié Ball thedeadliest bullet used during Gettysburg.
The battle strategy for both sidesof Gettysburg was carefully planned out and executed. The Union ended up responding to Lee’s forces moving northby deciding to move their Army of the Potomac to stop the Confederate forces atGettysburg. The two armies began fighting on July 1. The Union settled near theoutskirts of Gettysburg. The Confederate forces soon moved down from the Northin a massive assault in order to push the Union defenders to the high groundsthat were south of the town. The Union was disappointed that the first day hadbeen a strong day for the Confederates, but the Union remained in control ofthe high ground. Lee created a plan for the Confederate troops to attack bothflanks of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge.
The fight would result in threehours of devastation and killing that won nothing of significance for the army.The Confederate forces pushed on the second day of the battle against the Uniondefenses. Lee’s troops would soon attack the northern end of the Federal linein a non-direct fashion, from south to north, using three of his fourdivisions. The fourth division was still in route which made them unavailable.One division would capture two hills that were just beyond the end of CemeteryRidge. They would sweep over the hills and hit the Union flank and drive them northwardnear Cemetery Ridge. The Confederates failed to remove the Northern army fromthe high ground position they were maintaining. The final day of the battle hadLee desperately trying to overwhelm the Union, but failing.
The Union defensesmaintained their position, destroying the Confederate assaults. The totalnumber of men who fought for the Union during Gettysburg was 104,256. 14,500men would be injured and 3,150 men would be killed. The total number of men whofought for the Confederacy during Gettysburg was 73,00.
12,950 men would beinjured and 4,400 men would be killed.General Meade of the Union army andConfederate General Lee had a multitude of military experience. Lee was secondin his class at the Military Academy in West Point and participated in manydifferent battles such as, the Battle of Chapultepec and the Battle ofChancellorsville. Meade finished 19th overall in his class and heldmany different roles in the field.
Meade once refused to leave the battlefieldalthough he had been severely wounded to the point that he couldn’t even stayon his horse. Meade managed to lead his troops who were fighting at the Battlesof South Mountain and Antietam, Maryland, and Fredericksburg, Virginia. The locationof Gettysburg and the Mason-Dixon Line had a large effect on the outcome of thebattle. General Lee and the Confederate troops needed to push through theMason-Dixon Line in order to reach Meade with the Union at Gettysburg.Gettysburg also had many fields and many hills with some small trees to providecover.
The battle strategy and materials used on both sides of the Union andthe Confederacy had a direct impact on the Union victory. Gettysburg became theturning point of the Civil War for the Union due to the military expertise ofthe Generals, the pivotal location of the battle, and the overall battlestrategy. If it were not for the Battle of Gettysburg, Congress might not haveever agreed to sign the 14th Amendment, which freed all men north orsouth despite their skin color. Works Cited”TheBattle of Gettysburg Timeline.” Visit Gettysburg, 1 Aug. 2016,www.
visit-gettysburg.com/the-battle-of-gettysburg-timeline.html.”CivilWar Battle of Gettysburg Facts.
” The Battle of Gettysburg, gettysburg.stonesentinels.com/battle-of-gettysburg-facts /.
TheEditors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Mason and Dixon Line.” EncyclopædiaBritannica,EncyclopædiaBritannica, Inc.
, 6 June 2017, www.britannica.com/place/Mason-and-Dixon-Line.”History& Culture.” National Parks Service, U.S.
Department of theInterior,www.nps.gov/gett/learn/historyculture/index.htm.History.comStaff. “George G.
Meade.” History.com, A&E Television Networks,2009, www.
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