“Fourscore and seven years ago our father brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equalâ€¦.â€
Date July 4th 1863 – Place Gettysburg, PA.Â – A clash between the Army of the Potomac and the Confederate States. By 1860, the town of Gettysburg boasted some 2,400 citizens with ten roads leading into the town, and a few small but thriving industries. Approximately 450 buildings housed carriage manufacturing, shoemakers, and tanneries as well as the usual merchants, banks and taverns as well as several educational institutions. These roads and industries would lead two armies into the county in 1863. General Leeâ€™s Army of Northern Virginia, with 75,000 men strong, was advancing north into central Pennsylvania. General Meede with his 95,000 men of the Union Army of the Potomac was moving to counter. By July 1, both armies would converge on Gettysburg. Much has been written about the battle, all the maneuvers have been analyzed and re-analyzed and become the source of stories and legends. The three-day battle saw 51,000 men dead, wounded or missing. Leeâ€™s defeated forces marched out on July 4th admitting defeat. President Lincoln came a few months later to dedicate the cemetery for the Union dead where he delivered the famous Gettysburg Address. As history would record, that same day â€“ July 4th, 1863 also saw another major defeat for the Confederacy, Vicksburg fell on the same day, opening up the Mississippi to the Union. Yet the war raged on for another two years.
We spent the afternoon exploring Gettysburgâ€™s battlefields, for its spread over a very large area where many impressive monuments to the fallen have been erected. Many of the 1860 houses and buildings are still standing in downtown Gettysburg which were filled with the wounded and dying during the battle. As you drive the battlefield trails, you have to look out and wonder about the tragic loss of life, the suffering and the heroic acts on both sides of the battle. HowÂ much blood lies in those open fields.