Gettysburg, Battle of
(1863)
   A pivotal battle of the American Civil War. It was fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, between the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, numbering 75,000 men and commanded by General Robert E. Lee, and Union forces, eventually numbering 90,000. Arriving piecemeal, they were commanded by General George G. Meade. On July 1, Confederate troops looking for shoes at a Gettysburg factory encountered Union cavalry commanded by Brigadier General John Buford. Lee’s cavalry, command by Major General J.E.B. Stuart, was off raiding for supplies. This left Lee militarily blind. On July 2, he nevertheless attacked the Union flanks. His generals failed to effectively execute his orders, so that intense fighting all day for the high ground left many dead with two key hills, Big Round Top and Little Round Top to the south of Gettysburg, still in the hands of the Union. At the same time, fierce fighting took place in a wheat field and peach orchard below as the tide of battle swayed back and forth. On July 3, 15,000 Confederates charged the Union lines on the high ground on Cemetery Ridge led by Major General George Pickett after the greatest artillery duel in American history. They were cut to pieces and too few gained the high ground to achieve a victory.
   Gettysburg was thus one of the most decisive battles in the American Civil War and was the high watermark of the Confederacy. The news of Gettysburg -combined with the simultaneous surrender of Vicksburg, Mississippi, to the Union army of General Ulysses Grant - ended the diplomatic efforts of the Confederacy to gain diplomatic recognition from Britain or the Continental powers.
   FURTHER READING:
    Coddington, Edwin B. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1984;
    Foote, Shelby. The Stars in Their Courses: The Gettysburg Campaign. New York: Modern Library, 1994.
   ANDREW JACKSON WASKEY

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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