Gettysburg The Battle of Gettysburg, fought from July 1 through July 3, 1863, marked a turning point in the Civil War. This is the most famous and important Civil War Battle that occurred, around the small market town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Most importantly Gettysburg was the clash between the two major American Cultures of there time: the North and the South. The causes of the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg, one must understand the differences between these two cultures. The Confederacy (the South) had an agricultural economy producing tobacco, sugar, and cotton, were found to thrive in the South.
With many large plantations owned by a few very wealthy rich white males. These owners lived off the labor of sharecroppers and slaves, charging high dues for the use of their land. “The Southern or Confederate Army was made up of a group of white males fighting for their independence from federal northern.” (McPheron, 33) The cooler climate and rocky soil in the North were not suitable for establishing plantations or large farms. The Northern States, dedicated to a more modern way of life and to end slavery. The Union (the North) economy was based on manufacturing, and even the minorities in the North were better off than those in the South most of the time.
As a result, the North’s economy came to depend more on trade than on agriculture. “Such an economy favored the growth of cities, though most Northerners still live in rural areas.” (McPheron 43) The Northern politicians wanted tariffs, and a large army. The Southern plantation owners wanted the exact opposite. The Southerners enjoyed a prosperous agricultural based on slave labor and wished to keep their old way of life. The South was fighting against the government that they thought was treating them unfairly.
They believed the Federal Government was overtaxing them, with tariffs and property taxes making their lifestyles even more expensive than they already had been. The North was fighting the Civil War for two reasons, first to keep the Nation Unified, and second to abolish slavery. Abraham Lincoln, the Commander and Chief of the Union or Northern forces along with many other Northerners believed that slavery was not only completely wrong, but it was great humiliation to America. One can see that with these differences a conflict would surely occur, but not many had predicted that full-blown war would breakout. One did and after three bloody and costly years for both sides we come to the date of July 1, 1863.
Before the Battle of Gettysburg, major cities in the North such as Philadelphia, Baltimore, and even Washington, were under threat of attack from General Robert E. Lee’s Confederate Army of Northern Virginia which had crossed the Potomac River and marched into Pennsylvania. On Tuesday morning, June 30, 1863, an infantry brigade of Confederate soldiers searching for shoes headed toward Gettysburg. “The Confederate commander spotted a long column of Federal cavalry heading toward the town. He withdrew his brigade and informed his superior, General Henry Heth, who in turn told his superior, A.P.
Hill, he would go back the following morning for shoes that were desperately needed.” (Coddington, 289) The battle began on July 1, 1863, when some of General Ambrose Powell Hill’s advance brigades entered the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania looking for shoes. “Due to General Stuart’s failure to complete his mission of tracking the Union Army, Hill’s troops encountered a Union cavalry division command by Major General John Buford.” (Microsoft Encarta, Battle of Gettysburg) During battle in front of Cemetery Hill, General Hill was faced with stubborn resistance from the Union forces trying to hold until the rest of the forces could arrive and help out. “Having made his decision to stay at Gettysburg and go on the offensive, General Robert E. Lee pondered the best way to carry it out. From the close of the first day’s fighting until late that night he discussed battle plans with his generals.
He held no council of war, nor time, even informally. Instead he himself rode out to consult with each corps commanders and his chief subordinates, and he saw other officers individually or in groups at his headquarters.” (Coddington, 363) General Robert E. Lee ordered several brigades to travel east to check their location and to search for supplies for his troops. Northwest of the town of Gettysburg they met. A skirmish ensued and as the battle heated, word was sent back to both commanders that the enemy was found and reinforcement troops proceeded to the area.
Over the next two days General Robert E. Lee’s army converged onto Gettysburg from the west and north while General George Meade’s army arrived from the south and southeast. Thus a battle never planned occurred simply by circumstance. Although, the Confederates won the day, General Ewell made the mistake of not allowing General Hill to force the Union troops with higher ground, and this the conclusion of day one. As Southern forces continued a relentless attack against the entrenched Union troops, the additional arriving Confederate forces launched an all-out offensive which drove the Union forces through the streets of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, to a defensive line south of town.
Thus, after the first day of battle the five mile Confederate line traveled from Seminary Ridge on the west side of the town of Gettysburg, through the town and eastward toward the area called Culp’s Hill. On the following day, July 2, 1863, a series of uncoordinated and fragmented Confederate attacks on the Union defensive position south of the town. While simultaneous attacks were supposed to have occurred on Culp’s Hill and Cemetery Ridge, the attacks took place six hours apart and were unsuccessful. The Union forces held onto Culp’s Hill, the Confederate forces did drive back the Union troops in areas referred to as the Peach Orchard, Wheat field, Valley of Death and Devils Den with a staggering amount of casualties. The Confederate advance of the right flank had initially succeeded but was stopped by heroic efforts of Union forces in an area known as Little Round Top. “All during the morning of Thursday, July 2, as both Lee and Meade planned their operations and deployed their troops, advance detachments of both armies kept up a lively fire.” (Coddington, 385) General George Meade, Commander of the Union Army of the Potomac arrived, along with the majority of the army.
“General George Meade, formed his forces in a widely recognizable horse shoe formation, anchored at Big and Little Round Top on the West Culp’s Hill on the East, and got positioned in behind a stonewall along Cemetery Ridge. The large Union forces faced an ad-hoc formation of Southern Troops preparing for a hasty attack. The Confederate forces roughly mirrored the Union line, commanded left to right or east to west by James Longstreet, Amrose Powell Hill, and Richard Ewell.” (Coddington, 392) Having been basically successful in two days of battle with the Union Army, General Robert E. Lee, believing his Army was invincible and undefeatable, decided to attack what he thought to be the weakest position of the Union line the next day. At the some time General George Meade held a conceal of war with his crop Commanders and decided made by both Commanders would lead to one of the most famous days of the American Civil War. History Essays.