Sunday, July 3, 2011


In the year 1863 this was the last day of the battle at Gettysburg. It has been called a turning point and the beginning of the end of the Confederacy. Over the three day battle, enough men were killed and wounded to fill a modern day sports stadium. There was only one civilian casualty: Jennie Wade, who was hit by a stray bullet that passed through her kitchen wall and killed her while she was baking bread.
Most people know a little about what happened at Gettysburg during the three day battle, but few know of what came after. In what has become known as one of the greatest feats in warfare, General Robert E. Lee led the successful retreat from Gettysburg.
For those who would like to know move I suggest the book, Retreat from Gettysburg: Lee, Logistics, and the Pennsylvania Campaign by Kent Masterson Brown. About the book from Amazon: In a groundbreaking, comprehensive history of the Army of Northern Virginia's retreat from Gettysburg in July 1863, Kent Masterson Brown draws on previously untapped sources to chronicle the massive effort of General Robert E. Lee and his command as they sought to move people, equipment, and scavenged supplies through hostile territory and plan the army's next moves.
More than fifty-seven miles of wagon and ambulance trains and tens of thousands of livestock accompanied the army back to Virginia. The movement of troops and supplies over the challenging terrain of mountain passes and despite the adverse conditions of driving rain and muddy quagmires is carefully described, as are General George G. Meade's attempts to attack the trains along the South Mountain range and at Hagerstown and Williamsport, Maryland. Lee's deliberate pace, skillful use of terrain, and constant positioning of the army behind defenses so as to invite attack caused Union forces to delay their own movements at critical times.

Brown concludes that even though the battle of Gettysburg was a defeat for the Army of Northern Virginia, Lee's successful retreat maintained the balance of power in the eastern theater and left his army with enough forage, stores, and fresh meat to ensure its continued existence as an effective force.

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