The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg – 30 June to 4 July 2013
This year marks the sesquicentennial of the Battle of Gettysburg, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the American Civil War. The confederacy’s push into the north was repelled and the northern victory became the catalyst for one of the greatest presidential addresses of all time – Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
With his invasion of Pennsylvania General Robert E. Lee hoped to distract union forces in Virginia while bringing the war to northern cities. Southern hopes were that a great victory in Union territory would not only help gain vital British recognition of the Confederacy but strengthen an already growing peace movement of war weary northerners wanting to see a negotiated peace with the south.
With a hard fought battle over 3 days, the Union forces were in the end victorious but with heavy losses on both sides it was a costly engagement with almost fifty thousand soldiers dead, wounded or missing. A turning point in the war, the battle has left an indelible mark on the history of the United States and to truly appreciate its impact a visit to Gettysburg National Military Park is a must.
Today this battlefield is peaceful and beautiful and to walk those fields where so many died is cause for introspection. A place of great preservation efforts the park is an amazing adventure back in time, one that brings insight and thoughtful recognition of the great sacrifices made on this now hallowed ground. This is a wonderful memorial and a national treasure that should not be missed.
The battle itself took place between 1 – 3 July 1863 however anniversary events at the park begin on 30 June and continue up to 4 July. The National Park Service has a very informative website with events listings. With special Park Ranger talks and tours, kids and family activities, recreations and historical programs there will certainly be something for everyone to enjoy.
Do you have a favourite Civil War location?