Friday, March 11, 2005

The History of Gettysburg

Presently, a borough in Adams County, southern Pennsylvania, Gettysburg is a community whose roots can be traced back to the 1780s, when it was first laid out; the community was incorporated in 1806. The initial community was named after General James Gettys, who was an early resident of this community. Its industries manufacture processed food, textiles, footwear, and electrical equipment and printed materials. Gettysburg is also a tourist center, and is prominent because of the many historical events that occurred there.
One historical event connected to Gettysburg would be the Battle of Gettysburg. The battle fought from, July 1 through July 3, 1863 is considered by many to be the turning point of the civil war. The commanding officers of the battle were George Gordon Mead, commanding officer of the Army of the Potomac, whose troops numbered about 85,000 soldiers. The Confederate general was General Robert E. Lee, leader of the entire Confederate Army, whose troops numbered about 75,000 men. The battle, lasting three days, included a vast number of skirmishes the most decisive and famous of all, led by Major General George E. Picket, Picket’s Charge. The battle resulted in a Confederate defeat and in the loss of the lives of 48,000; the Union had about 23,000 casualties and the Confederacy had at least 25,000.
Another historical highlight in Gettysburg was that of Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address. During this three minute speech, in which Lincoln declared that the Civil War was a test that would show whether a nation founded on democracy could survive, hundreds viewed the cemetery that held the bodies of brothers, son, fathers, and husbands, all whose lives were lost in this epic battle. The cemetery they saw before them was Gettysburg National Cemetery, dedicated to those who fought in the battle on November19, 1863.
Presently Gettysburg holds Gettysburg National park, several museums, and other points of interest such as inns and bed and breakfast hotels, located on different historical landmarks.

The Battle of Gettysburg

The Civil War had a dramatic impact on the political and social evolution of the United States. Indeed, many scholars feel that the Civil War was the most pivotal period in the development of our country. The war preserved our country as one nation, ended slavery, and defined the meaning of freedom, citizenship and equality for all Americans of the Civil War generation and all generations thereafter. The war established a unified nation, propelled our country along an unprecedented explosion of economic expansion, and initiated its growth into a world power. For many Americans today, much of the meaning of the Civil War is represented in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 jarred the Gettysburg area out of its pastoral security. For two years, the people of Gettysburg nervously watched the progress of the war in nearby Virginia and Maryland. In the summer of 1863, the network of roads that assured growth for the community became a curse. The invading Confederate army under General Robert E. Lee crossed the Potomac and began to march toward the Susquehanna River in June. Lee hoped that a victory in the north would erode the Union’s will to continue the fight. From July 1st through July 3rd, the armies of the Union and the Confederacy clashed in a titanic battle at this small crossroads town, a battle that would prove decisive in the ultimate outcome of the struggle.
The three days of battle saw 165,000 participants overrun the ridges, creeks, and farm fields of the region and the streets and houses of Gettysburg itself. Fighting first north of Gettysburg, retreating through the town, and then concentrating in the famous fishhook anchored on Cult’s Hill, Cemetery Ridge, and Little Round Top, the Union army met a series of fierce assaults from Lee’s Confederates on July 1st and 2nd.
On the morning of July 3rd, heavy skirmishing continued near the center of the Union army’s battle line at Ziegler's Grove and along Cemetery Ridge (the site of the park’s current visitor centers and parking lots). The skirmishing ended in the early afternoon when an artillery duel between 250 Confederate and Union cannon drove the skirmishers to ground and covered the battlefield with smoke and deafening thunder for 90 long minutes.
After the cannonade, Lee ordered his infantry to attack. Although he hoped that his artillery barrage had decimated the Union artillery and demoralized its infantry, the fact was that neither had occurred. As more than 14,000 Confederate troops advanced across the field toward Cemetery Ridge, a deluge of artillery shot and shell raked their lines. As a result, the left wing of the attacking column was staggering even before it could scale the double wall of rail fencing that enclosed Emmitsburg Road. Many of those who scaled the fence were shot down in the road. Those who still moved on toward the ridge advanced under a hail of fire. Those who survived to reach the Union defense works fell or were captured in the melee that ensued at the Angle, near the Copse of Trees. Thus, Picket’s Charge ended with losses of more than 50 percent.
The three days of fighting had changed the battle’s participants and the town of Gettysburg forever. More than 51,000 casualties (killed, mortally wounded, wounded and captured) had been inflicted along the streets and in the fields of Gettysburg. The extensive losses suffered by Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia proved impossible for the war-stressed economy of the Confederacy to replace. With the Union victory at Gettysburg simultaneously occurring with the surrender of the besieged city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, on July 4, 1863, which restored Union control of the Mississippi river, the Union armies were able to seize the initiative that led to the almost-inevitable collapse of the Confederacy 21 months later.
Abraham Lincoln helped the world understand what Gettysburg meant, when, on November 19, 1863, he came to the small town to dedicate the Soldiers' National Cemetery. In the few words of the Gettysburg Address, he redefined for the North – and eventually for all Americans – the meaning and value of the continuing struggle for a unified nation: "…that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

Gettysburg


On June 3, 1863, a month after his dramatic victory at Chancellorsville, Confederate General Robert E. Lee began marching his Army of Northern Virginia northwestward from its camps around Fredericksburg, Virginia. Once through the gaps of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Southerners trudged northward into Maryland and Pennsylvania. They were followed by the Union Army of the Potomac under General Joseph Hooker, but Lee, part of whose cavalry under J.E.B. Stuart was absent on a brash raid around the Federal forces, had no way of knowing his adversary's whereabouts.

The two armies touched by chance at Gettysburg on June 30. The main battle opened on July 1 with Confederates attacking Union troops on McPherson Ridge west of town. Though outnumbered, the Federal forces (now under General George G. Mead) held their position until afternoon, when they were overpowered and driven back to Cemetery Hill south of town. The Northerners labored long into the night over their defenses while the bulk of Mead’s army arrived and took up positions.
On July 2 the battlelines were drawn up in two sweeping arcs. The main portions of both armies were nearly 1 mile apart on parallel ridges: Union forces on Cemetery Ridge, Confederate forces on Seminary Ridge to the west. Lee ordered an attack against both Union flanks. James Longstreet's thrust on the Federal left turned the base of Little Round Top into a shambles, left the Wheatfield strewn with dead and wounded, and overran the Peach Orchard. Farther north, Richard S. Ewer’s evening attack on the Federal right at Cult’s Hill and East Cemetery Hill, though momentarily successful, could not be exploited to Confederate advantage.
On July 3 Lee's artillery opened a two-hour bombardment of the Federal lines on Cemetery Ridge and Cemetery Hill. This for a time engaged the massed guns of both sides in a thundering duel for supremacy, but did little to soften up the Union defensive position. Then, in a desperate attempt to recapture the partial success of the previous day, some 12,600 Confederates under Generals George E. Picket, J.J. Pettigrew, and Isaac Tremble advanced across the open fields towards the Federal center. Only one Southerner in three retired to safety.

With the repulse of the Confederate assault, the Battle of Gettysburg was over. The Confederate army that staggered back into Virginia was physically and spiritually exhausted. Never again would Lee attempt an offensive operation of such magnitude. And Mead, though criticized for not pursuing Lee's troops, would forever be the remembered as the man who won the battle that has come to be known as the "High Water Mark of the Confederacy."

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Antietam

GENERAL ROBERT E. LEE'S first invasion of the North culminated with the Battle of Antietam, in Maryland (or Sharpsburg, as the South called it). The battle took place on Wednesday, September 17, 1862, just 18 days after the Confederate victory at Second Manassas, 40 miles to the southeast in Virginia.
Not only was this the first major Civil War engagement on Northern soil, it was also the bloodiest single day battle in American history.
To view the magnitude of the losses, consider that Antietam resulted in nine times as many Americans killed or wounded (23,000 soldiers) as took place on June 6, 1944--D-day, the so-called "longest day" of World War II.* Also consider that more soldiers were killed and wounded at the Battle of Antietam than the deaths of all Americans in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, and Spanish-American War combined.
The loss of human life at Antietam shocked both sides doing battle that day. And it nearly resulted in Lee's entire army, with its back to the Potomac River, being cut off from retreat across the Potomac (through Shepherdstown) and being captured by the stronger Union forces.
The battle also became a turning point, an engagement that changed the entire course of the Civil War. Antietam not only halted Lee's bold invasion of the North (see Why Lee Invaded Maryland) but thwarted his efforts to force Lincoln to sue for peace. It also provided Lincoln with the victory he needed to announce the abolition of slavery in the South. And with that proclamation of Emancipation, Lincoln was able to broaden the base of the war and may have prevented England and France from lending support to a country that engaged in human bondage. The battle sealed the fate of the Confederacy.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Fort Frederick

Horatio Sharpe was the royal souvenir of Maryland from 1753 to 1769, but he was also the builder of Fort Frederick.
The last Lord Baltimore which was during 1731 to 1771 was the one that Fort Frederick was named after this guy. Here's the story.
French successes continued in the early stages of the French and Indian War. Souvenir shapes fears were compounded when he received word that Fort dowses had also fallen to the French. A letter (September 13,1756) to Lord Baltimore he writes "tea flight of the Pensilvanions from the western parts of the province has left our northern frontier beyond mongoose much exposed sixteen enemy has now free aces as there ones & if some measures specially taken for the defense of that colony neither fort Frederick nor its garrison can be of much service" work had already begun beefy these event because we are told that. "It was only after months of wrangling that in may of 1756, the sum of six thousand pounds was put at the disposal of his Excellency, Horatio Sharpe is know for his majesty towards the defense of the colony of Maryland.
The site of which Fort Frederick isolated is on track of land on which "The state had bought fifty-six acres from land slot Jacques a French Uganda merchant of Annapolis, who had been granted for practical nothing." To this was added other parcels which made up the total area connected with Fort Fredericks operation.
souvenir Sharpe quickly constructed Fort Frederick. Then he got souvenir dined who helped him get defenses in Fort Frederick.

Life in Fort Frederick/ Fort Frederick

The soldiers had a fire place in each room to keep them warm, but even with the fire places it was cold used double banks so you could fit two people in each bank. This was so they could share body heat. The solders also lined there bands with straw, to give off even more warmth. In Fort Frederick there was no actual battle. Frederick stood and waited for the enemy's to come but they never showed up so there never was an actual battle.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

History Hounds

This website is going to focus on battles that have effected our area of Washington County. This is important for two reasons. One, that we can help others in the future with information that we have already researched. Two, that we can give students following us a trust-worthy website for correct information.