To visit Gettysburg and not convey a little of its history, so as not to repeat it, would be an injustice to the souls lost here. I also want to say on a personal level, as an army veteran myself, my heart ached for the soldiers who fought and died here during this bloody, sickening battle and I am humbled to walk the same ground as they fought, defended and died on. The Battle of Gettysburg was fought on July 1–3 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War and is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's invasion of the North. Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee quickly concentrated his forces there, his objective was to engage the Union army and destroy it once and for all. The low ridges to the northwest of town were defended at first by a Union cavalry division commanded by Brig. Gen. John Buford, but was soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry.
However, two very large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, totally collapsing the hastily deployed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the town to the hills just to the south as fast as they could. On the second day of battle, most of both armies had reassembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling the letter “J”. In the late afternoon of July 2, Gen. Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting sometimes as close as a few feet apart raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines. On the third and last day of battle, July 3, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main engagement was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett's Charge. The charge was beat back by Union rifles and artillery fire. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle. President Abraham Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and give his now historic Gettysburg Address.