On June 29, 1863, a spy from the Confederate army watches the movement of the Union army. He rode his horse to inform Gen. James Longstreet of the Unions position, surprising Longstreet, who did not know that the Union army was so close to him, about 200 miles of where he was.
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Gen. Jeb Stuart was supposed to keep other Confederates soldiers informed of where the Union was, but failed to do so. Union Gen. John Buford had occupied Gettysburg with his cavalry and sent word to Gen. John Reynolds, who is the infantry commander, to come with reinforcements because the Confederates could attack soon. He had the high ground in some hills nearby, it was a very good defensive position to take up.
July 1 had some storms on the way. Gen. Robert E. Lee had some troubles with his heart, it was because he was getting older. Gen. Robert E. Lee was waiting for some reports on the enemys position, even when they had a spy tell them of the forces whereabouts, Lee didnt not like the word spy or like to use their information .Many of his officers think that the Union army is nowhere close to Gettysburg, but Longstreets spy says there is cavalry already waiting in the town, and where ever the cavalry is, the infantry will be behind them. Lee asks his right-hand man, Longstreet, to stay away from the front line in the upcoming battle because he could not afford to lose him. Lee really trusted Longstreet, and knew he was the future. On the opposite side of the field there was a man named Buford of the union. Some of Buford men didnt think Reynolds, which is another commander, would come to their aid in time if at all. Buford told them if he says he coming he will be there because he thinks him to be an honorable man. Bufords troops defend Cemetery Hill against a Confederate attack, and where almost overrun. Buford sent word to Reynolds to help many time during the battle, after nearly holding out for 6 hours, Reynolds comes like he said he would as their reinforcement. Buford and Reynolds meet up and give each other the information they had before Reynolds is shot and killed, which Buford had a hard time coping with.
Lee then moved his troops toward the direction of Gettysburg. Several small battles take place and to the Unions surprise, the Confederates appeared to be winning. After winning some Lee had some momentum and wanted to attack in full force the next day, but Longstreet thought it was not such a good idea, since theyre outnumbered. Even with their small victories, they were still at a bad spot for attacking up hill, because the Union held the high ground on Cemetery Hill and other nearby hills the confederates could not advance. Lee was mad at Gen. Richard Ewell, because he was new to his command, and for not trying to take the high ground away from the Union even though they were outnumbered by them.
On July 2, the Confederates began to prepare to attack the Union. Lee wants a final, end all be all battle. Lees plan is not that bad, because if you can force a larger army to fight a smaller army in a narrow passing the smaller army has a chance to win. The Confederates think they can reroute Gen. George Meades Union army. An officer from England named Arthur Fremantle was with the Confederates as an observer, and has high hopes and is certain that the Confederates will win because he believes that they are better people and the Union soldiers are trash. Fremantle thinks that American democracy failed because the South has very strict social classes, just like his home country back in England.
On the other side of the army lines and the social beliefs, there was a man named Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the Union Army and he wanted all humans to be equal to each other. His men had found an injured escaped slave, who didnt speak English. Chamberlain makes sure the slave received food and had a doctor treat his wound. Chamberlain felt bad because, he still felt the man to be lower class and really didnt like the guy, but still felt that the other man was his equal and should be treated that way. Chamberlain had a very strong sense of belief and strong fighting spirt, which made him a great Col.
Lee wants to do an echelon attack, which means diagonally arranging units so they arrive one after the other all most like waves. But once the Confederates start marching towards Cemetery Ridge, they seen that the Union has moved its position some, they gave up the high ground and retreated a little bit into a peach orchard which was some ways back. This meant a more marching and moving around the terrain for the Confederate troops, who were already tired. Longstreet then tells Gen. John Hood to attack the peach orchard. Hood says that the Union already knows his position and will see him coming and that such a direct attack will have heavy losses, but Longstreet went against what he knew to be right, because he was not willing to defy Lees orders again. Longstreet tells Hood that he must take the hill known as Little Round Top in order to take the orchard.
Chamberlain received orders to form the regiment, the 20th Maine. They were ordered to hold Little Round Top at any cost, because were the far left section of the Union that holds the left flank; if they failed the Confederates would surround and attack the rest of the army from behind. As the battle goes on, the 20th Maine takes heavy damage, and they soon began to run out of ammo. Chamberlain did not abandon the hill, even though it could mean death for himself and his troops. He orders the men to put their bayonets on and charge. To Chamberlain surprise, the charge was successful and the nearby Confederate troops surrender because he would not give up that hill.
When the fighting was done for that day, Longstreet found Hood wounded in the field hospital and learns that most of Hoods troops put the blame on himself for their major defeat at Devils Den. Longstreet reads the reports of the Confederate death toll for that day and now knows that Lee no longer has enough men for a major assault.
On July 3, Longstreet tries to tell Lee that a frontal assault will not work because they lack enough men, but Lee is hardhead in his ways. As they talk, they heard cannon fire and found that Ewell has taken the fight to him, knowing Lee was weak and had low moral he launched a counter attack their troops, the battle had begun early then they wanted. Lee ordered Longstreet to charge the center of the Union army, in hopes to break their line. Longstreet knows this plan to be flawed and begs Lee to avoid direct frontal attack, but Lee didnt care what Longstreet had to say. Confederate Gen. Lew Armistead prepares to charge the Union line, but began to think of his best friend, Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock, who is fighting for the Union and he promised to never to harm.
As Armisteads troops moved forward over open ground, a man named George Pickett lead the way which was called Picketts Charge after him, the Union cannons fired heavily and killed most of his troops. On the way to the hill the troops did a great job of staying together and staying in line, and pushing the flank but at the very end the men faltered and bunched up which gave the union an opening. Armistead and some troops made it to their objective at the top of the ridge, but by then the small amount of troops couldnt hold and their attack failed, Armistead then died while trying to ask a Union officer to send his apologies to Hancock. Later Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered. During these battles the union always seem to have the upper hand. The union also had very good leaders because they believed what they were fighting for was right, like Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. The Union also held the high ground for most of the battles which made it harder for the Confederate army attack. Even though the Confederate army won some previous smaller battles, they could never figure out the Unions game plan. Robert E. Lee was a good leader but refused to take advice from his men even when it was logical. The Confederate got desperate to take the hills around them and in doing so lost a lot men, Lee didnt seem to care for his man or strategy.
I think Little Round Top Hill was the turning point because the Confederate army lost most of their men in that battle, which led to a counter attack by the Union and took the Confederate army by surprise which won them the fight. The union seemed to be ahead and anticipate the Confederate army, and was determine to hold even at the cost of their own lives. The Union Choose to defend while making the Confederate army attack, making them come in waves and making them lose men little by little until they didnt have enough men, to repel the counter attack. The Union Army seemed to me better suited for open field battle, and had great leadership on their side, this is why the Union North won the Civil War. During these battles people seem to forget that the north was fighting because they belive all men to be equal and won. The south only cared about money and how slaves were tools to be used to make it. It was a battle for human equality vs human greed.
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