Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Second Day

How close had the Confederates come to success?

There were two, perhaps even three, times on July 2, 1863, when the Confederates were within view of complete success. The arrival of one or two of their regiments would have carried the day, and the Army of the Potomac would have suffered yet another injurious defeat. On each occasion, however, it was a Union regiment or brigade that appeared at just the right moment, and the federal positions held.

As night came on, Lee and his staff looked at the situation and found it painful. General Hood was out of combat; numerous other prominent leaders were down; and in the two days of battle the Confederates had already suffered twenty thousand men killed, wounded, or missing. This was the time, General Longstreet believed, that the Army of Northern Virginia must move away from Gettysburg to take up a defensive line. Lee would not hear of it, however.


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