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Gettysburg Campaign

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The seeds of the Gettysburg Campaign were planted in the wake of the dramatic Confederate victory in the Chancellorsville Campaign. On June 3, Lee began to move his troops west from Fredericksburg towards the Shenandoah Valley.  The campaign was almost undone on June 9 at the Battle of Brandy Station but, despite the initial shock of the Federal attack, Confederate cavalry held them off.  Lee’s vanguard entered the Shenandoah Valley and won the Second Battle of Winchester. 

 

Confederate forces crossed the Potomac River from June 15-26.  Hooker, meanwhile, learned of the capture of Winchester and began to move his army north in pursuit of Lee who began to concentrate near Chambersburg on June 27.  On June 28, President Abraham Lincoln replaced Hooker with General George G. Meade who continued pushing the army north.  Upon discovering Federal forces closing on his position, Lee ordered his army to concentrate near Cashtown, Pennsylvania.

 

On July 1, the two armies met at Gettysburg, fighting for three days before Meade emerged victorious.  The two armies suffered more than 50,000 combined casualties in the war’s bloodiest battle.  Lee retreated on July 5, and reached the Potomac on July 12 only to find the river too flooded to cross from heavy rains.  Finally on July 14 the Army of Northern Virginia was able to cross the Potomac River at Williamsport despite a Federal breakthrough at Falling Waters.

Battlefields Today
Many battlefields are already preserved and restored to their 18th and 19th Century state. Many are also open to visitors by national, state and local battlefield park organizations. For information on how to visit the site of one of America's early battles, visit our Battlefields Section.
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