Tuesday, July 2, 2013

16,800 American Killed in One Day: The Battle of Gettysburg

Lew Lee
Thursday, 1 July, 1863
Gettysburgthe first day of battle

It was on this day, 150 years ago today at approximately 4:30am that two brigades of Confederate Major General Henry Heth's division [Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill's Third Corps, of Confederate Commanding
General R. E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia] were delayed from reaching the town of Gettysburg, Pa. by dismounted United States Cavalry under Brigadier General John Buford.

Buford's Union horse soldiers were armed with fast-firing Spencer repeating carbines.

That delay proved to be of pivotal importance, as tens of thousands of Federal reinforcements under United States Army Commanding General George Meade [Army of the Potomac] constantly poured in from the east and south of town to establish the Union Army's defensive lines from Culp's Hill south along Cemetery Ridge to Little Round Top.

Thursday, 2 July, 1863
Gettysburg—the second day of battle

It was on this day, 150 years ago today that Confederate Commanding General R.E. Lee attempted to dislodge well emplaced United States Forces under Union Commanding General George Meade from the high ground of Cemetary Ridge, Cemetary Hill.

The Confederate States Army attempted to turn the Right Flank of the United States Army under General Meade at Culp's Hill and Meade's Left Flank at The Peach Orchard, The Wheatfield, The Rose Woods, Devil's Den and Little Round Top.

General Lee Failed.

Casualty figures for the second day of Gettysburg are difficult to assess because both armies reported by unit after the full battle, not by day.

One estimate is that the Confederate States lost approximately 6,000 killed, missing, or wounded from Hood's, McLaws's, and Anderson's divisions, amounting to 30–40% casualties.

United States casualties in these actions probably exceeded 9,000.

An estimate for the day's total casualties (including the Culp's and Cemetery Hill actions) by historian Noah Trudeau is 10,000 Union, 6,800 Confederate..
Gettysburg Battlefield
This is in comparison to approximately 9,000 Union and 6,000 Confederate casualties on the first day, although there were much larger percentages of the armies engaged the second.

It is a testament to the ferocity of the day's battle that such high casualties figures resulted even with much of the fighting not occurring until late in the afternoon and thereafter lasting about six hours.

By comparison, the Battle of Antietam—known famously as the bloodiest SINGLE day in American military history with nearly 23,000 casualties—was an engagement that lasted twelve hours, or fully twice as long.
Yes, it is hard to believe it is the 150th Anniversary. I remember the 100th and people took it VERY seriously. Today, many issues still reverberate, for though there is no official slavery, and no slave owning autocracy, massive poverty is still great, the Union of our Nation is still threatened by those separatists who desire States Rights, and there is still very deep and endemic racism.

No comments:

Post a Comment