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The Gettysburg Address: Nov. 21, 2008 through January 4, 2009

Battle of Gettysburg

Lithographic print of the Gettysburg battle

Lithographic print of the battle by Kurz and Allison, 1884.

In June 1863 the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, with over 75,000 soldiers under General Robert E. Lee, crossed into Pennsylvania aiming to strike a crippling blow to Union forces. Lee hoped that a successful attack would end English and French neutrality and turn Northern opinion in favor of a negotiated peace. The Union Army of the Potomac, recently placed under Major General George Meade, was in pursuit with more than 88,000 soldiers. These two great armies met at Gettysburg.

On July 1, 1863, the most famous battle of the Civil War began, and raged for three days. The Union forces repelled assault after assault until Lee recognized the futility of the campaign and ordered his defeated and crippled army back to Virginia.

Photograph by Timothy O'Sullivan

Photograph by Timothy O'Sullivan, Gettysburg, July 1863, published in Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War, 1865–66.

In three days, total casualties rose to over 6,000 dead and more than 45,000 wounded and missing—the largest number for any Civil War battle.

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