Often referred to as the turning point in the American Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg was fought in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from July 1 to July 3, 1863.
After the Confederate victory at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30 to May 6, 1863), Confederate General Robert E. Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. Lee intended to move the focus of the war from Virginia and, thereby, influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war. Dissatisfied with Union commander Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's reserved reaction to Lee's invasion, President Lincoln replaced him with General George Meade just three days before the battle began.
Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and Meade's Army of the Potomac met on July 1, 1863, as they concentrated their forces near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Two large Confederate corps assaulted Union troops from the northwest and north this day, collapsing the Union lines, sending the Federals retreating through the streets of the town to the hills just to the south. On the second day of battle, both armies were nearly at full strength. General Lee launched attacks against both flanks of the Union line, which Meade had laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. The Federals held their positions throughout the day, despite fierce attacks that resulted in heavy Union casualties.
On the third day of the battle, fighting continued on both flanks, but Lee focused his attention on the center of Meade's line. At 3:00 p.m., following two hours of heavy artillery bombardment, approximately 12,500 Confederates, led by Major General George Pickett, Brigadier General J. Johnston Pettigrew, Lewis Armistead, and Major General Isaac R. Trimble, began a frontal assault on Cemetery Ridge--the center of the Federals line. At one point during the attack, the Confederates breached the Union line temporarily, but the Northerners were able to recover and repulse Pickett's Charge. The Rebels suffered nearly fifty percent casualties during the ill-fated assault. On July 4, both Lee and Meade were reluctant to be the aggressors, due to high numbers of casualties from the previous three days. Sensing that Meade would not attack, Lee began a retreat back across the Potomac River to Virginia. Meade chose not to pursue the retreating Confederates and was severely criticized by President Lincoln for not trying to crush the Army of Northern Virginia when he had the chance.
Ohio units that participated in the Battle of Gettysburg included:
- 4th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 5th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 8th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 25th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 29th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 55th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 61st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 66th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 73rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 75th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 82nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 107th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 110th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 122nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- 126th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry
- Battery H, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
- Battery I, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
- Battery K, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
- Battery L, 1st Ohio Light Artillery
- 1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry
After three days of fighting, the combined armies suffered between 45,000 and 51,000 casualties, including nearly 8,000 dead, making Gettysburg the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. On November 19, 1863, President Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery, honoring those who had fallen during the battle.
Cite this Entry
"Battle of Gettysburg," Ohio Civil War Central, 2013, Ohio Civil War Central. 19 Jun 2013 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=221>
"Battle of Gettysburg." (2013) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved June 19, 2013, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=221