THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
ORVILLE J. VICTOR EDWARD A. POLLARD
About midway on the ridge running south from the village of Gettysburg where the Army of the Potomac fought its greatest battle was a small, umbrella-shaped clump of trees, which is spoken of as the highwater mark of the Rebellion, since the centre of Pickett's column in the famous charge was directed toward that point, the battle culminated in that charge, and the military efforts of the Confederate Government culminated in that battle. It was the second attempt of their strongest army to invade the Northern States, both had failed, and it was also the last.
The full force of the event is realized only when it is considered in connection with the fall of Vicksburg. This great battle in the East was fought in the first three days of July, and on the fourth the Confederate stronghold at the West surrendered to General Grant with nearly thirty thousand prisoners.
Much has been written of Gettysburg, the later narratives abounding in criticism, controversy, and conjecture as to what might have been done. We have chosen to present the earlier accounts of Victor and Pollard (Federal and Confederate), which give all the essential facts with admirable clearness, and to add Lincoln's famous address at the dedication of the cemetery.
ORVILLE J. VICTOR
NEVER was a commander suddenly called to a graver responsibility than fell to the lot of General George G. Meade. A quiet, undemonstrative person, the contrast of Hooker in temper and personal bearing, his choice for the succession was surprising. Whatever the prompting motive, the selection was, to a certain degree, fortunate, since, with most of the corps commanders, his relations were those of professional confidence. Fewer personal animosities were excited by his promotion than had been caused by previous changes in the army's control. His assumption of command was followed by no change in Hooker's general disposition. On the contrary, having the power, he ordered the abandonment of Maryland Heights, and French's brigades ere long contributed to his field strength. He was further sustained by having all forces operating against Lee made tributary to his orders. Even from the defences of Washington a few more men were spared to augment the efficiency of his columns.
His plan, as communicated to the General-in-Chief, was: "To move my army as promptly as possible on the main lines from Frederick to Harrisburg, extending my wings on both sides of that line as far as I could consistently with the safety and rapid concentration of that army, and to continue that movement until I either encountered the enemy or had reason to believe that the enemy was about to advance upon me; my object being at all hazards to compel him to loose his hold on the Susquehanna and meet me in battle at some point." Only a day was lost. On June 29th the columns were put in motion up the Monocacy Valley toward Gettysburg, preceded by Buford's and Kilpatrick's cavalry divisions, which Hooker, before retiring, had thrown forward, as a prelude to his advance on the same line.
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
– Isaiah 43:2