Before the Battle of Gettysburg even started Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee concentrated his full strength to meet the pursuing federals under Major General George G. Meade at the crossroads of Gettysburg. He did this be cause of what he had heard from a reliable source that the Union forces were weak and not expecting any fighting against the Confederates for a little while.
Some of the artillery used in the battle was the howitzer and napoleon guns, which were made of bronze and could fire up to about a mile. Another was the Parrot rifle, which was made of cast iron and could fire about a mile and a half. The last kind of gun was the three-inch ordnance rifle. This rifle was the strongest for its weight than any other gun. It was made of wrought iron and extremely light weighted.
It could fire as effectively as the parrot rifle. Then, on July first 1863, around eight are the confederates approached Gettysburg along Chambers Pike. They were expecting very minimal resistance. A little while later the Union army met up with them. After heavy fighting the union army was forced to retreat.
They retreated to a place called Cemetery Hill. By late afternoon Cemetery Hill had nearly 9,000 men and 40 guns. The confederate General Robert E. Lee arrived around the same time. He saw all of the men at Cemetery Hill and decided to wait until tomorrow to attack them. All in all the confederates won today’s battle.
On July second General Meade arrived. He spent the second day of battle fortifying and rearranging his army along Cemetery Hill. In the afternoon General Lee received intelligence that the Union army was hanging in the air and was very vulnerable to be attacked. This was not far from the truth. The Confederate army moved their artillery barrage on the Peach Orchard. From there they attacked at about 16:30 (4:30).
The Union army moved to a place called Devils Den. After a while of heavy battling the Union forces were forced to retreat. The fighting continued northeast along the line through Rose’s Woods, the Wheatfield, on the Stony Hill. After Stony Hill they were reinforced at a place called Culps Hill. The fighting continued here till about dark.
The Union forces were able to hold off the Confederate army. When darkness had fell the two armies had ceased fire. The confederate forces were not able to gain any major successes on today’s battles. The Union forces won today’s battles. Both the confederates as well as the Union forces had planned to attack early in the morning.
The fighting resumes early as five Union batteries opened fire on the confederate position on Culps Hill. Shortly after the barrage the confederates renewed their attack against the Union defenders. They attacked three times! But each and every one failed to penetrate the Unions front line. Shortly after the three attacks that failed two units who were virtually impregnable reinforced the Union forces. Lee wanted to finish the battle with a decisive encounter.
He talked with General Pickett about a plan. Pickett’s plan was to conduct a massive artillery barrage along the Union line. This would also be followed by an infantry charge into the Union center. This attack called for nearly one hundred and sixty canons and about twelve thousand men (nine brigades) to march over 1,000 yards across open ground. The Confederate line would stretch for over a mile. Two divisions would comprise of the northern portion of the attack while Pickett’s Division would be the southern wing.
The attack began with over one hundred Confederate guns opening fire along the Union lines. The Confederate shells tended to land over the Union lines and land amidst the rear (near the wagons and hospitals). In fact, General Meade (the Union General at the time) was forced to relocate his headquarters to Power’s Hill. Lee realized the Union batteries were momentarily withdrawing from their positions (only to be replenished and supported with replacement batteries). If any time had come, this was the time to attack. The Confederates decided that the charge should proceed.
The attack started from Seminary Ridge slowly marched eastward. Union batteries from Cemetery Hill to Little Round To immediately opened fire on the advancing line, opening temporary gaps in the units. The Confederates kept coming and after 15 minutes, reformed their lines after crossing Emmitsburg Road. When the Confederates were within 400 yards, the Union artillery began firing canister and was also within Union rifle distance. The Confederate line now compacted to about 1/2 mile long.
The Confederates began to bunch near the center and became a mingled mass. This caused for many casualties. As the confederates pushed forward, the men and artillery poured devastating fire into the approaching units. After about two hours of fighting General Meade realized that his ammunition was getting limited. He ordered for his men to cease-fire.
The confederates were also getting low but they did not cease as the Union did. They kept firing for about an hour and a half. They were just about out of ammunition and were forced to use hand-to-hand fighting. They charged at the Union regiment. The Union killed many men after they charged.
The Confederates had lost there original position were surrounded. They were now outnumbered and cutoff from any reinforcements. Soon anyone left in the Confederate forces was either captured or killed. The remaining Confederate units near the battle but not yet surrounded slowly retreated and made their way back towards Seminary Ridge. Pickett lost nearly 3,000 men (over half) of his Division. When Pickett returned to Lee, to report the massive failure he was ordered to prepare against a possible Union counterattack. Pickett then replied, General Lee, I have no division now.
Many different estimates exist on the number of casualties inflicted during the battle of Gettysburg, but these are the most common estimates. Casualties* The Union casualties were 3,155 men killed, 14,530 men wounded 5,365 men missing. The total men killed from this battle are 23,040. That was 27% of there army they lost. The confederate army had 2,600-4,500 killed, 12,800 wounded and 5,250 missing.
The total was anywhere from 20,650-25000** casualties. This was anywhere from 30%-34% of there army.