Saturday, July 3, 2010


The din of muskets and cannon had faded but the stench and pall of battle still hung in the air; two American armies stared at one another in a heavy rain across bloody fields on the Fourth of July in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 1863.

Both armies began to collect their remaining wounded and bury some of the dead. Between 46,000 and 51,000 Americans were casualties of the three-day battle. Union casualties list 23,055 (3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded, 5,369 captured or missing), while Confederate casualties are estimated 23,231 (4,708 killed, 12,693 wounded, 5,830 captured or missing).

Bear in mind this was an era when anything more than a simple flesh wound meant certain slow death by infection, and prisoner-of-war captivity was almost a death sentence.

Gettysburg Day 1: Union dead along McPherson Ridge.

Nearly 8,000 Americans were killed outright; the bodies lying in the hot summer sun needed to be buried quickly. A proposal by Lee for a prisoner exchange was rejected by Meade. Nearly a third of Lee’s general officers were killed, wounded, or captured in the Gettysburg campaign. Total casualties for both sides during the entire campaign were 57,225.

Gettysburg Day 2: Union and Confederate dead near the Emmittsburg Road.

Gettysburg Day 3: "Harvest of Death" - aftermath of Pickett's Charge.

Lee started moving the Army of Northern Virginia late in the evening of July 4 towards Fairfield and Chambersburg. Meade’s army followed, although his pursuit was half-spirited. The recently rain-swollen Potomac trapped Lee’s army on the north bank of the river for a time, but when the Federals finally caught up, the Confederates had forded the river.

Also on July 4, 1863 the Vicksburg garrison surrendered to Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant; another significant turning point of the war when the Federals regained control of the Mississippi, an important supply route.


On July 1, 2, and 3, 1863, more Americans fought and died here than any other battle in American history. Although the Battle of Gettysburg did not end the war, it was the turning point when the ultimate victory of the North over the South – and the preservation of the Union – was determined.

As brilliant as the Founding Fathers were in establishing the Republic, they knew their work was not complete as long as the question of States Rights could not be resolved, in the areas of commerce but most visibly with slavery. This struggle was addressed and postponed for almost seventy years until things finally came to flash point at Ft. Sumter.

The Civil War was not only the most important war America ever fought, it was also the most stupid; because it was Americans killing Americans. What occurred at Gettysburg was not simply a key battlefield victory of a single war but THE pivotal battle that preserved our Republic from a tragic war that had to be fought, and just as importantly had to be won. Without a Union victory at Gettysburg, the Confederacy may possibly have prevailed; had such a circumstance come about, America as we know it would not exist.

This point was driven home by Lincoln’s brilliant Gettysburg Address, given five months later on the same battlefield:

Despite my sympathies for the Southern Cause - particularly regarding States Rights – I am aware that the Union had to ultimately prevail. This is the sad irony of this terrible war. This Fourth of July I will travel with my family to pay my respects at Gettysburg. - Sean Linnane


  1. No offense, but as my grampa said:

    "Lincoln caused over half a million Americans to be killed over something when there did NOT NEED TO BE A WAR and if you look at the history, Lincoln machinated INTENTIONALLY at Sumter to start a war, because he didn't realize how long and devastating it would be."

    This post brought to you by somebody who has studied the War Between The States for a LONG time.

    Every other country ended slavery and sorted out their unions without a bloodbath. Historical fact.

    Another Historical Fact, Gettysburg made the feller I'm named after go up in rank from Pvt. to Sgt. He lived through the war. A lot of family on both sides didn't and it wasn't a necessary war. I'll go to my GRAVE arguing with you that it was NOT NEEDED.

    Articles of Confederation weren't working out, we had a Constitutional Convention. Constitutional principles related to States Rights were being VIOLATED by the industrial north that wanted to subjugate the south anyway, you got a war...

    Many of the Yankee Generals kept slaves. When Lincoln "freed slaves" it only applied to Confederate Areas...AND Robert E. Lee didn't keep slaves and the Southern side of the war was primarily fought by poor whites, not plantation owners.

    Pardon the verbiage, but it's true, if you read oral histories of the era, a lot of slaves said "Better to be a nigger than poor and white." And it was true.

    So people from the Bronx and poor Southrons had to die because Abraham Lincoln was a MORON, as were some of the southern leaders, but Lincoln was very calculated in provoking the attack at Sumter and igniting the war.

    He gambled that it would be fast, easy, and cheap and he was WRONG ON ALL COUNTS.

  2. Every other country ... sorted out their unions without a bloodbath. Historical fact


    not so sure about that

    1. I agree w/ 'hmmm'... to mention two other bloody civil wars: Russia and Spain.

    2. also vietnam and korea

  3. And on July 4, 1863, Vicksburg fell. The city
    refused to celebrate Independence Day until 1976.
    The Bicentennial year.

  4. Like Stormbringer I am sympathetic to the South's States Rights issues. However,seven of the southern states seceded before Lincoln even took office. So the argument that "it was all Lincolns fault" is somewhat lacking...

  5. I am not from the South, even though I live here now. I was born in California but lived in both places, Minnesota, Virginia, Texas, Florida. I submit to you that many believe the North did not win the Civil War. Many Southern schools teach the South won. My personal opinion, everyone lost. What's the difference between a slave and a low paid field hand? Both are trapped in a system they did not choose.

  6. There wasn't a war until Lincoln sent naval forces in an intentionally provocative manner. Secession wasn't an act of war nor was it Constitutionally prohibited.

    I'll clarify the slavery/bloodbath issue: Modern Western nations of that era were successfully ending slavery at the time of the War Between The States without bloodbaths. The UK is a leading example.

    Re-The difference between a slave and a low paid field hand (or white indentured servant)? The difference was a slave was worth money to the land owner so often taken better care of...hence the quote in my post above. They were both discriminated against but black slaves were worth money and poor/indentured whites were throw-away items. A shocking percentage of poor whites died at young ages and lived in abject poverty Before the war. After a war, there were a couple occasions where the poor whites and poor blacks joined together in rebellion against the elite, but they were successfully played against each other, as the elite didn't want to see that happen again. The American lower class was divided and conquered in Reconstruction. Yes, the American economic system and the frontier offered SOME of the impoverished chances to better themselves, but not by any means all.

    Speaking of California, we sure chewed up a lot of Chinese laborer's as basically slaves AFTER the war building the railroads.

    America didn't become a purely egalitarian "FREE" country after Gettysburg, or the war end, or even this very day.

  7. There is no possible way a Southerner could believe the South won; after the devastation of Sherman's March, Atlanta burning, the fall of Richmond, Petersburg, twelve years of Reconstruction (more aptly named DE-Construction or perhaps even more aptly named Rape & Rampage) . . . almost a hundred and fifty years later the South is STILL the poorest part of the United States . . . and States Rights lay trampled in the mud by a Federal Government that is near-tyrannical in its omnipotence . . . you still think the South won? "Sic Semper Tyrannis" is just a saying . . .

  8. South didn't win and they also spoiled their chances at truces and victory, especially early on when they had chances to take D.C., and then later when they stomped Rosecrans but didn't follow up and then Grant took over from Rosecrans...Won like Japan won WW II...At times did very well at winning battles but didn't have the population, industry, navy, or resources to win a war of attrition.

  9. FWIW, even if everything came out lopsided like Shiloh instead of Gettysburg for the Confederacy, leaving out the lack of a decent navy and falsely assuming equal industrial capacity per capita:

    Union Losses
    1,754 dead
    8,408 wounded
    2,885 missing

    Confederate Losses
    1,723 dead
    8,012 wounded
    959 missing

    The South only had 9 million people to start with and the Union had 20 million.

  10. Bro. Sean,

    Something that might be of interests to you:

    You and yours have a safe and wonderful trip. Take care...

    A.S. Layman

  11. Bro. A.S. Layman -

    Thank you for the wonderful link. I have long heard of this and now I enjoy reading all about it.

    May the God of Love and Peace delight to dwell with and bless you.

  12. We can all examine the war with 20/20 hindsight and come to a thousand conclusions. The fact is that what resulted is probably the absolute best country in the world. (At least until resently when the progressives and then Obama weaseled their way in and started trying to deconstruct the US). There are way more important things that should make up our agenda today than a past that can not be changed.

  13. Some might say it's the kind of thinking people should do to avoid another tragedy in the future. Those that don't learn from the past being condemned to repeat it and all that. Yamamoto knew the Japanese couldn't beat the U.S. in a war, and yet, he and many others went along with the militarists...Not unlike Union leaders who thought the South would be a push-over and Confederate leaders that knew that, if the battles raged for long, they couldn't win...even having mostly attended the same schools and universities.

    There's a difference between Monday morning quarterbacking and learning from history, in my worldview.

    It's the best country in the world, but that doesn't mean it couldn't get better. Have a Happy Fourth.

  14. Bro. Charles,

    It's always my pleasure to share how the light illumines the way. So shall we ever meet, act, and part. May God bless you and yours.

    A. S. Layman

  15. One evening, sitting on Little Roundtop, after the masses had left, I was looking over the battlefield and from behind me a man just started playing a banjo. It is a sacred place,

  16. "On July 1, 2, and 3, 1863, more Americans fought and died here than any other battle in American history."

    Actually, about 20,000 more fought at Fredericksburg.
    Gettysburg had more casualties.

    Army of the Potomac: approx. 114,000 engaged
    Army of Northern Virginia: approx. 72,500 engaged

    Army of the Potomac: 93,921
    Army of Northern Virginia: 71,699

    ** troop strength numbers from Wikipedia