The 3-day Battle of Gettysburg

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The 3-day Battle of Gettysburg went down as the largest and bloodiest battle to take place in the Western hemisphere, and also as the High Water Mark of the Confederacy, since it was a key component to the Confederacy’s defeat. Despite the odds, and advice from his fellow commanders, General Robert E. Lee devised a plan to attack the Union on their own turf, in hopes of overtaking Cemetery Ridge and permanently moving the battle north.

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His battle plan was simply to find the most vulnerable part of the Union line and make an assault, panicking the Union line and causing a retreat. As a high commander with a winning track record, General Lee had gained the respect and trust of his men, as well as his top commander, Lieutenant General James Longstreet. So when he presented them with a choice, A choice of one of two things: either to retire to Richmond and stand a siege, which must ultimately have ended in surrender, or to invade Pennsylvania, his men agreed to charge the northern territory. However, the Confederates did not wait to weigh in on other viable options, and Lee proceeded with what would be his final major offensive battle. Lee’s defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg has many factors to blame, the main factors being a poor choice of attack strategy given the current circumstances, the use of faulty artillery, and the lack of strong leadership and coherence in the artillery unit. We will diverge into these topics to see how things went awry during the three days at battle.

To start, Lee’s battle plan did not align with his army’s capabilities. One article explained the usually battle-wise Lee depended too much on his experience and not enough on cold reasoning in the light of the latest information available. An example of this is when Lee miscalculated the amount of men needed to cover the battle grounds to have an effective assault. To compare, Lee’s army was comprised of 50,000 men and 34 brigades of infantry, while the Union had nearly 80,000 men and 51 brigades of infantry, already putting the south at a disadvantage to defend themselves. However, General Lee kept on towards his goal of shifting the war north, and out of Virginia as harvesting season approached. The three quarter-mile open ground shooting range left soldiers exposed, and susceptible to a cannon fire attack. Since Lee’s army was outnumbered from the start, it took more energy to cover the grounds. To make matters worse, General Lee wanted to attack from the offensive, charging the Union in hopes of breaking them at their weakest point. The Union’s commanding general, General George G. Meade, who was also a very experienced and well-respected leader, chose to fight on the defensive side, and used a fish-hook formation to cover the battle grounds with his massive army.

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