The Battle Of Gettysburg Analysis

2501 words - 11 pages

The battle of Gettysburg occurred over three hot summer days, July 1 to July 3, 1863, around the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It began as a meeting engagement, but by its end involved approximately 170,000 Americans. The battle is considered to be the turning point in the American Civil War and is one of the most studied battles in American history. The events that took place at Gettysburg had a tremendous impact on the outcome of the Civil War and the fate of the United States.
It is far easier for us in the present than it was for those at Gettysburg, to look back and determine the path that the leaders should have taken. As students, studying battles such as this, we have ...view middle of the document...

Regardless of the success in the east, the military situation for the Confederacy was becoming more and more difficult. One key development of the war was in the west, on the bank of the Mississippi River. In April of 1863, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant moved 20,000 Union Soldiers from the west bank of the Mississippi River to the east bank, threatening the Confederate garrison at Vicksburg, Mississippi (Reardon, 2013). This, coupled with a necessity to provide war torn Virginia with relief from fighting armies, provoked Gen. Lee to capitalize on the political situation in the north.
Leaders in the south were aware of the political situation within the Union states. There was continued opposition to the war by some northern politicians and segments of the population (Spruill, 2011). The monetary cost of the war, as well as in lives, was growing fast for both sides. In order to maintain its ranks, the Union passed a conscription act. Although it provided an almost endless supply of Soldiers as immigrants came to America, it was highly unpopular. Gen. Lee intended to take advantage of these antiwar movements. His strategy was to win a decisive victory in Union territory, thus persuading the population of the north to force President Lincoln to end the war. In Lee’s opinion, in order for the south to bring an end to the war, with the Confederacy still intact, an offensive was necessary.
President Lincoln acknowledged the danger that Lee posed. In regards to war in the east, Lincoln made his strategy clear in communications to Maj. Gen. Joe Hooker, commander of the Army of the Potomac. Lincoln stated, “I think Lee’s army, and not Richmond, is your sure objective point....Fight him...when opportunity offers.” (Cited in Fullenkamp, 2012, pg. 19). If Gen. Lee were to win a major victory against the Army of the Potomac, it would be one more defeat of yet another Union General.
The strategy for both sides was motivated by most, if not every operational variable. The political motivations have been discussed so far. The military situation in the west at Vicksburg had a significant impact on Lee’s decision to invade as much as what was occurring in the east. General Grant held a position on the Mississippi River, a key piece of economic, as well as strategic infrastructure. Social peace movements in the north made time an important commodity for both sides. For the Confederacy, decisive victory was needed swiftly in order to capitalize on the current social and political environment. In addition, Lee could not sustain operations north of the Potomac for long if not reinforced (Bowden & Ward, 2001). Time was a factor for the Union as well as the Confederates, in that the Union was losing support on the home front. Physical terrain is what determined the location of the battle, due to the ten roads that intersected there. Gettysburg, with its road intersection, provided rapid movement of troop formations in almost any direction. All of these factors forced...

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