War and Conflict

American Civil War

Why was the battle at Gettysburg important?

The 1863 battle, fought when the two sides met accidentally in the southern Pennsylvania town, was a turning point in the Civil War. From July 1 to 3 General George Meade (1815–1872) led his troops (about 90,000 strong) to defeat the advancing Confederate troops (numbering some 75,000) under General Robert E. Lee (1807–1870). The Union win effectively stopped Lee’s invasion of the North.

The following November 19 President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) made the historical address at Gettysburg, as he dedicated part of the battlefield as a national cemetery. Beginning with the now-famous words “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal,” the short speech (which Lincoln rewrote many times) closed by issuing a rallying cry for the nation as a whole, saying, “we here highly resolve that the dead shall not have died in vain—that the nation shall, under God, have a new birth of freedom—and that governments of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


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