The Battle of Gettysburg marked the turning point of the Civil War. The Battle of Gettysburg photos that were collected over the years are now freshly colorized, and we are able to see the preparations, as well as the consequences of the battle.
There were more than 50,000 estimated casualties in this battle. To this day, it is considered the bloodiest singular battle of the conflict. It lasted for three days.
The events that led to the battle are many. General Lee grew confident due to many wins in Virginia. His objective was to win a battle north of the Mason-Dixon line. He wanted to do this because he tried to force the Union into the negotiations that would end the fighting. However, his loss at Gettysburg prevented him from realizing that goal.
Instead, after this battle, Lee was defeated. The wounded general fled south with his wagon train of wounded soldiers. They turned tail and felt toward the Potomac. Union General Meade decided not to pursue the army as it was retreating. This caused him to miss a crucial opportunity to trap Lee. It could have forced the Confederates to surrender. However, the war continued for another two years.
The Battle of Gettysburg photos show us the losses on both sides and reveal just how bloody this conflict was.
Before The Battle
The battle started on June 3. General Robert E. Lee led his troops north in his second invasion of enemy territory. He had a 75,000-man strong army called the Army of Northern Virginia.
They were in high spirits. These Battle of Gettysburg photos show the soldiers on both sides before the battle started.
When General Lee moved on the other side, General Hooker headed north. However, he did not want t to engage with Lee directly due to the Union's defeat at Chancellorsville. General Hooker was relieved of command in late June due to his hesitance.
Hooker's successor, Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade decided that it was time for conflict. He moved their 90,000 strong armies called the Army of Potomac. They moved northward and had followed the orders that would position the army between Lee and Washington.
D.C. Meade had chosen this position to defend the Union's supply routes and be able to protect the Capital if needed.
On June 15, three corps of Lee's army went across the Potomac River. On June 28, they have reached the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania.
During this time, Lee had slowed down. He waited to learn more intelligence on Union troop positions. His errant cavalry commander, Gen. Jeb Stuart, was the one that was supposed to keep him informed. Eventually, a spy told him that Meade was very close.
Caught in an unfair position, General Lee knew they had to move. Using major local roads, Lee ordered the army to move to Gettysburg. All the paths converged in this small town, making it a seat of the country.
Photographer Timothy H. O'Sullivan took this one, among the other Battle of Gettysburg photos. This is a stereo view of Alfred R. Waud, artist of Harper's Weekly, while he painted on the battleground near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in July of 1863.
Battle Of Gettysburg Photos
The battle lasted for three days. All of them were bloody. Plenty of photos were taken of the battle that would soon leave the nation speechless.
The battle started on July 1. On this day, the Confederate division under Maj. Gen. Henry Heth moved toward Gettysburg to seize supplies. They had provoked an engagement with the Union cavalry.
Brig. Gen. John Buford led the Union. He managed to slow the Confederate advance, waiting for the infantry of the Union I and XI Corps. They soon arrived to relieve them.
On the second day of battle, the Union was able to defend a fishhook-shaped range of hills and ridges. They were on the south of Gettysburg. The Confederates wrapped around the Union position in a long line, and the fighting that ensued was bloody.
It was that afternoon that General Lee would launch a heavy assault commanded by Lieut. Gen. James Longstreet. They moved to seize the Union left flank.
These Battle of Gettysburg photos testify to the fierce fighting that raged at Devil's Den, Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, the Peach Orchard, and Cemetery Ridge.
After the battle, bodies littered the ground around the town of Gettysburg and the surrounding countryside.
Using their formation of short, interior lines, Union II Corps commander Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock and his entourage moved in with their reinforcements quickly. They managed to blunt Confederate advances.
Even if that day the Confederates gained ground on both ends of their line, they were still pushed back. As the day came to a close, the Union defenders held strong positions.
During the battle, there were so many casualties that field hospitals had to be erected without any planning. They performed first aid and, in most cases, amputations of the severely damaged limbs.
On the last day, thinking his enemy to be weakened, Lee moved quickly. He wanted to use the gains of the previous day's. This is why he renewed attacks on the Union line. On the last day of battle, heavy fighting resumed on Culp's Hill. This day Union troops attempted to recapture ground lost. To the east and south, cavalry battles flared up.
The main event of the final day was a vast infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates. However, this wasn't enough to win.
It was a rainy afternoon of July 4 when Lee was forced to withdraw his army from Gettysburg. He was forced back to Virginia. The ranks of his troops were severely reduced. His men were wasted and battle-scarred.
The Aftermath Of The Battle
The count of the killed soldiers on both sides was over 51,000. Many more soldiers from both armies were wounded, captured, or missing after the battle. The carnage that transpired in Gettysburg was overwhelming. However, it was a victory for the Union. It was what boosted Lincoln's hopes of ending the war.
The corpses that littered the ground in these gruesome Battle of Gettysburg photos wore the uniforms of both sides.
In the Battle of Gettysburg, 1,500 horses were lost. More than a million were killed in the Civil War in total. At the beginning of the war, more horses were dying than warriors.
The trenches dug all over the surrounding area were filled with corpses.
The surroundings of the city of Gettysburg were forever changed, as numerous Battle of Gettysburg photos suggest.
What was left of the city's buildings and structures was trampled by horses and men alike.
Gen. Meade that led the side of the Union had won a great battle. However, he was also known for being characteristically hot-tempered. He often ran into problems, even after the war, for his outbursts.
After the battle, though they were instrumental in the Civil War, the Third Regiment was eventually decreased in size and demoted to being Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's headquarters guards.
This is among Battle of Gettysburg photos that show Burns, a 70-year-old civilian living nearby, grabbing his flintlock musket and powder horn and walking out to the battlefield to join in with Union troops. He was an excellent sharpshooter who received a commendation after the battle.
Months after the battle, a large crowd gathered in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863, the day of President Abraham Lincoln's address.
Reenactment Of The Battle Of Gettysburg Photos
Decades after the battle, Civil War enthusiasts gather on the anniversary to reenact the battle. Here are some Battle of Gettysburg photos that show Confederate Civil War reenactors launching an evening attack during a three-day Battle of Gettysburg re-enactment on June 29, 2013.
Around 8,000 reenactors from the Blue Gray Alliance participated in events that marked the 150th anniversary of the July 1-3, 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.
This is a photo of Union Civil War reenactors repulsing an evening attack.
On the other side, Confederate Civil War reenactors from Hood's Texas Brigade launched an evening attack on Union troops.
The Battle of Gettysburg looked amazing being reenacted in such a number.
Geoff Roecker, an actor from Brooklyn, New York City, played a member of the Constitution Guard.
Female reenactors watched a demonstration of a battle during ongoing activities commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg.