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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gettysburg 150 years ago today

     150 years ago today about 60 miles north of Howard County the pivotal battle of the Civil War took place at Gettysburg.  Howard County was fortunate not to be a site for battles between the advancing Confederate forces as took place in Frederick, Carroll and Washington Counties.  Lee wanted to cross the Potomac farther up away from Washington DC which lead him into Washington County.  
      After fighting for 2 days the decisive battle at Gettysburg was to take place on July 3, 1863 when General Robert E. Lee ordered General George Pickett to attack the center of the Union force on Cemetery Ridge.  

   This frontal assault on the Union troops stationed on Cemetery Ridge was a risky last ditch attempt to break the Union line and achieve the victory on Union soil that the Confederacy was hoping would push the North to divert troops from areas of Virginia and move the battle to northern soil. 

   Unfortunately for Lee and the South the attack on Cemetery Ridge was unsuccessful and Lee was forced to retreat back across the Potomac River into Virginia.  The war moved back onto southern soil in Virginia and continued to retreat until Lee's surrender at Appomattox in 1865.

      As seen in the photos above from Matthew Brady, the casualties on both sides were considerable.  An estimated 50,000 soldiers were either killed, wounded or captured during the 3 day fight from July 1-3.

   In doing some research on this blog I came across some information on the Gettysburg battle reunion of 1913 which was the last time that many veterans of the Battle of Gettysburg visited the site.

   It is interesting to speculate what would have happened if Lee had been successful at Gettysburg and the South would have been able to have the North negotiate a peace that would have allowed the Confederate states to form a different country.  It has been speculated that the increased mechanization of farming would have led to a situation in the South that slaves were not needed in southern agriculture by the 1890's.  What would have happened to slavery is an open question but it may have eventually led to the development of sharecropping as it did with the northern victory.

P.S. 1
   What would our Congress look like today without the Confederate states?  The Senate would be controlled by the Democrats with 47 Democrats and 2 Independents voting with the Democrat caucus against 32 Republicans. A filibuster proof Senate. The House would be controlled by the Democrats by a closer margin of 166 Democrats to 161 Republicans.

    Civil War trivia question.  Remember your American history? What American inventor had two inventions that each played a large role in determining the economies of both the North and the South and led them to war? Answer tomorrow

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