From a small town to a blood bath, Gettysburg had become a battle with the most casualties during the Civil War. In the summer of 1863, the Civil War was into its third year. Times were tough, and both the Confederate and Union armies were desperate for an end to this brutal war. In many ways, the Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War. Some of the main reasons include the immense number of casualties from both sides, the disadvantages of the Confederate Army, and the persistence to end the war.
The reason the Battle of Gettysburg is so important is because of the massive number of casualties in such a short amount of time. The Union had a total of 23,040 casualties from an army of 918,000 (Doc B). The Confederates’ casualties ranged from 20,000-25,000 and their army consisted of 278,000 men (Doc B). This means that there were about 46,000 casualties in three days! Finally, in a letter from General Robert E. Lee to President Jefferson Davis, Lee states, “It is believed that the enemy suffered severely in these operations, but our own loss has not been light” (Doc C). This sentence shows that both sides had about the same amount of casualties. However, based on the ratio of casualties to army size, the Confederates had a greater loss.
The Confederate Army was at a disadvantage from the start. One leading reason was because the size of their army. Percentage wise, the Confederate Army had more casualties than the Union Army (Doc B). Also, many high ranked people, such as generals, were lost in the Confederate Army (Doc C). In that same letter from General Lee to President Davis, Lee states, “General Barksdale is killed. Generals Garnett and Armistead are missing… Generals Pender and Trimble are wounded in the leg, General Hood in the arm, and General Heth slightly in the head. General Kemper, it is feared, is mortally wounded. Our losses embrace many other valuable officers and men” (Doc C). Finally, the Confederates had taken a risk when invading Union territory. In Document A, it shows that the Confederates were in much of Union land. Due to this fact, it would be harder to retreat from an enemy’s territory after such a severe battle. Their army could risk losing more men. While the Confederate Army was weakened, the Union Army was determined to finish this war, once and for all, and bring the nation back together.
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” (Doc D). This famous quote, recited by President Abraham Lincoln, was the first sentence to the famous Gettysburg Address in November of 1863. At this point of the war, President Lincoln was assiduous to reunite the nation. By first reminding the nation that the Founding Fathers declared all mean are created equal, President Lincoln then goes on to say that now the nation is engaged in a civil war because of the fact that some cannot accept that all men are created equal (Doc D). This powerful speech motivated the Union to end the war and reunify the nation. It allowed people to realize that seven thousand men had died in three days and that the war was not helping the nation at all (Doc B).
Death, injuries, and persistence all contributed in bringing the nation back to its senses on the pointlessness of the Civil War. It allowed people to realize how violent the war was and how that violence might be directed to friends and families from different sides of the nation. It turned the war around and people realized the nation should reunite.