American Civil War Essay

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American Civil War Essay: Battle of Gettysburg

I. American Civil War: Battle of Gettysburg

The battle of Gettysburg is one of the battles recorded during the American Civil War and is responsible for the largest number of causalities ever to occur in the history of American society. The battle of Gettysburg commenced in the year 1863 on the month of July for only three days. The war began on July 1 and ended on the 3rd of the same month. For the reason of the largest number of causalities obtained during the war, it was vivid that the people of America referred to the battle of Gettysburg as the turning point for the country (Burgan 63). The army of the Potomac, under the leadership of General George Gordon Meade, defeated the Army of Northern Virginia, which was headed by General Robert Lee.

Although General Robert Lee had invaded most of the parts of North America, his entire army was stopped and all his attacks backfired, hence forcing the Army of the North to retreat. Immediately after defeating the war in 1963 in Chancellorsville in Virginia, General Lee decided to head to Gettysburg through Shenandoah and influence the politician in the North. It was an added advantage to him since his politicians were all in shape and high in spirit, ready to face any enemy because of the victory received from the previous fight (Haskell 51). The key aim of General Lee was to influence the Northern politician into giving up the fight, hence penetrating into Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and even Harrisburg. However, at the moment, president Abraham Lincoln pushed the army in pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia under General Meade after firing General Joseph Hooker. The two armies collided on 1 July in Gettysburg, going through the second day and ending on the 3rd day (Allison 26).

II. First day of battle

July 1, 1963 was the first day of the battle of Gettysburg whereby General Lee assembled his entire army and attacked Gettysburg with the aim of destroying the opposing army after engaging strongly with his army. The first day of the battle was the most vital day that involved a vigorous war between the two conflicting armies. In accordance to the files, it was estimated that approximately one third of Lee’s army, which amounted to 27,000 soldiers and approximately 22,000 men, engaged in the fighting (Burgan 71). Although the number of soldiers of General Lee’s army was higher and they had engaged in the war the first, a resistance force was obtained from Meade’s army which contributed to the successful nature of the North’s army.

Having prior knowledge that the confederates would emerge from the west marching into Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, the army of Meade formed a defense in three distinct positions in nature that would offer resistance to General Lee’s approaching army. The three ridges of defense situated in the West of the town were Seminary Ridge, Herr Ridge, and McPherson Ridge. The obstruction of Lee’s army by the three ridges would create enough time to establish territory vital in fighting defensively against invading enemies. Buying time is one of the war tricks that is currently used in wars and enables the armies to gain more ground (Haskell 70). The more the time is offered to the army, the enemies will always have surprises when ambushing the army. This is the key trick that was engaged by Meade’s army to face the attacks from Lee’s army in the first day. Upon reaching Gettysburg, Lee’s army was already ambushed in the three ridges hence already weakened.

III. Second day of battle

1. Plans and movement to battle

Since the battle of Gettysburg consisted of large numbers of soldiers, not all parts of the infantry of both armies managed to arrive on July 1. For this reason, most of the armies arrived on the evening of first and the morning of July 2. The second, third, fourth and fifth unions arrived and the XII Corps arrived on July 2, hence the war commencing to the second day. The second day was the main day in which the battle of Gettysburg actually took place. This is for the reason that all the participating armies had arrived on time to face the war. The union line occupied Culp’s Hill, which is found in the northwest of Gettysburg. The XII Corps was the main occupier of the Culp’s Hill while XI and I occupied the rest of the cemetery hill (Haskell 83). The II and III Corps occupied the remaining half of the cemetery ridge and contributed to the fishhook shape of the Union army. The Union line was parallel to the Confederate line emerging West on Seminary Ridge curving to the opposite of Culp’s Hill.

The first plan of Lee’s army was to position the Longstreet’s First Corps to attack the Union from the left flank. The order of the attack was to commence with John Bell Hood, who had his army and Lafayette division. The third plan was the army headed by General Richard, which was to occupy the Hill division, hence reinforcing the attack of the entire army. The main aim of splitting the army into the three main divisions was to prevent General Meade from separating his troops and spreading them into the battlefield (Vierow 64). The plan of Lee establishing the second division was to create a demonstration against the federal troops and attack the army if any opportunity emerged.

2. Attacks on the Union left flank

General Meade was forced to reinforce his army with almost 20,000 soldiers after receiving information that the Longstreet division was attacking Union III Corps. The 20, 000 soldiers encompassed the entire Caldwell division, which is the II Corps and XII and the newly recruited soldier forming the VI Corps. The plan obtained from General Lee was not adhered to by most of the divisions consisting of Hood’s division, which decided to move easterly, hence creating more room for the penetration of the confederate army (Burgan 121).

The penetration of the federal army into the territory of the Union army was a major blow to Lee’s army after the attacking of the Devil’s Den. During the attack on the Union left flank, the III Corps was destroyed and the leading general’s leg was amputated. The entire division was destroyed hence killing almost all the soldiers in the troop. In Wheatfield, Caldwell troop was equally destroyed, thus nearly all the soldiers in the troop were killed. It was a difficult moment for Lee’s army since most of the soldiers faced massive resistance from the federal army (Haskell 95).

During the attacks in Wheatfield, less attention was focused on Little Round Top, hence it gave a chance to Colonel Vincent Strong to take over the hill. This was a great opportunity for the federal army, which insured that the other members of the fighting force faced enough resistance. The hill was important to Meade’s army since it gave a bird’s view of the battlefield, hence enabling the army to view oncoming enemies…

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