33 Powerful Photos of The Battle Of Gettysburg, 1863

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. In the battle, Union Maj. Gen. George Meade’s Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, halting Lee’s invasion of the North. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war’s turning point due to the Union’s decisive victory and concurrence with the Siege of Vicksburg.

After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved of command just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.

Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there, his objective being to engage the Union army and destroy it. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division under Brig. Gen. John Buford, and soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry. However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of the town to the hills just to the south. On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. In the late afternoon of July 2, Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, Confederate demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.

On the third day of battle, fighting resumed on Culp’s Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett’s Charge. The charge was repelled by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great loss to the Confederate army. Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history. On November 19, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address. (Wikipedia)

The bodies of several Union soldiers lie on the battlefield. This photo is known as “Harvest of Death.”
All in all, the battle ended with some 50,000 casualties, making it the bloodiest in U.S. history.
Three Confederate prisoners during the Battle of Gettysburg.
About 8,000 Confederate prisoners were taken at the end of the battle.
The Battle of Gettysburg headquarters of the U.S. Sanitary Commission, a private group that aided sick and wounded Union soldiers during the Civil War.
The body of a sharpshooter, his rifle just out of reach, lies dead on the ground.
A surgeon performs an amputation on a wounded man as others stand by to assist.
A Union soldier who was torn apart by artillery lies dead on the ground.
Several men stand near a battlefield hospital
Confederate bodies lie dead in the area known as the “devil’s den.”
A hotspot for artillery and sharpshooters, “devil’s den” marked one of the battle’s bloodiest sites.
The damaged surrounding forest in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Gettysburg.
Two Union soldiers rest behind defensive fortifications during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Men examine the bodies of two dead sharpshooters.
Cannons sit abandoned after the first day of Battle of Gettysburg.
Cannons played a critical role in the battle, especially on the third day when Confederate forces mistakenly believed that Union cannons had been knocked out but were then devastated on their ensuing offensive.
The bodies of a group of Confederate soldiers wait to be buried.
Some 8,000 soldiers were killed outright on the battlefield.
The headquarters of the Army of the Potomac during the Battle of Gettysburg.
Confederate soldiers who were on the receiving end of a Union shelling.
Gen. Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy.
Lee was ultimately the senior commander of all Confederate military forces.
Gen. George G. Meade of the Union.
Meade was only given command of the Army of the Potomac three days before the Battle of Gettysburg and didn’t arrive at the battle until the end of the first day, after which time he was able to organize the Union’s victory over the next two days.
Lt. Gen. James Longstreet of the Confederacy.
Lee’s right-hand man throughout the war, Longstreet was one of the conflict’s most important commanders.
Gen. George Pickett of the Confederacy.
Pickett helped lead the infamous Pickett’s Charge that ended with Confederate defeat, turning the tide of the battle and the war against the South
A field is strewn with the bodies of Confederates.
John L. Burns, a civilian who fought alongside the Union at the Battle of Gettysburg, poses for a photo with his musket.
Burns became famous for fighting despite being 69 at the time.
John L. Burns recovers from his wounds. July 1863.
Dead Confederates lie in the area known as the “slaughter pen” near Little Round Top.
Four soldiers lie dead in the woods near Gettysburg.
People stand in front of the Battle of Gettysburg tents belonging to the U.S. Christian Commission, a group that provided supplies and services to Union troops.
The bodies of several dead horses lie on the battlefield.
Following the battle, some 3,000 horse carcasses were burned, reportedly causing the townsfolk to grow ill from the stench.
The body of a Confederate sharpshooter is left lying where he was shot.
A bridge at nearby Hanover Junction that was burned by the Confederates prior to the Battle of Gettysburg.
The bodies of Confederate dead are gathered for burial.
Union entrenchments on Little Round Top, a hill near the southern end of where the Battle of Gettysburg was fought.
Several bodies lined up for burial.
Crowds gather for the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery (when Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address) in Gettysburg on Nov. 19, 1863.
Abraham Lincoln (identified by red arrow) stands among the crowd before delivering the Gettysburg Address.

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