Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Battle of Gettysburg - 150 Year Anniversary


The Civil War forever changed the United States of America. In January 1861, South Carolina seceeded from the Union, followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas -- and the threat of secession by four more -- Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. These eleven states eventually formed the Confederate States of America.
Lincoln was inaugurated in March 4, 1861, and he had hoped to bring the states together without war. This was not to happen. Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter. The war was long and bloody. 
After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May of 1863, General Lee led his army North for the second time. Lincoln prodded Major General Hooker into pursuit, relieving him with General Meade three days before the battle. 
Elements of the the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg PA on July 1, 1863. The battle lasted three days, ending with Lee making a difficult retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle. 
The Battle of Gettysburg is often thought to be the turning point of the war. 
The following November, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers. He redefined the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address. 
Our favorite time to visit the park is in the fall - the weather is beautiful and not as hot as when the battle was fought. 
On one of our visits, we took a private tour given by a Park Ranger and it was incredible - he was so knowledgible. And the town itself  can feel a bit like an open-air museum, with people walking its streets in period garb.


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