In the battle of Gettysburg there were more casualties than any other battle during the Civil war. It affected both the Union and the Confederacy. This essay will discuss how it affected the soldiers of both armies, others who learned of the results, and the nation overall.
Union soldiers like the gentleman posing for a portrait may have lived to tell the tale to others or that one photo may have been the last for any of them. The casualty count, dead, missing, and wounded, was very high with Confederate losses at twenty- eight thousand and the Union at twenty-three thousand. Many men wrote home, to reassure family and friends of their continued existence while others wrote to keep a sense of connectedness and sanity, hoping for an end to the madness, knowing that if they made it through the entire battle, they might ultimately make it to the end of the war itself.
Three Confederate prisoners out in the open, like there is no war going on and they do not have a care in the world. The Confederates “lost” this battle but the war went on for two more years. The desired effect and outcome they wished to achieve against the Union was not achieved by the battle, yes, but they did not just lay down and die. More importantly the confidence in General Lee and that of his subordinates was sort of like that of a presidential approval rating. If the results are not to the satisfaction of the people then all of a sudden one becomes an incompetent, ineffective leader.
Dead Union soldiers in the battle site. Like all soldiers they died valiantly in the field of battle in defense of what they thought was right, only to be looted and rummaged through like so much garbage.This photo represents the true impact of war; death, final and permanent. We fight wars for so many reasons but when it ends up being ones’ own people, it makes it so much harder to stomach. No matter what people called themselves during this battle, not so long ago they were a nation, now terribly divided.
Two points of view from a “Union” perspective. Mrs. Henry sees the horrors of the battle in the wounded in the hospital and finds out that the fight was so bad that not one but two generals were killed there alone. The news of victory for the Union seemed to inspire hope in her for continued success. The writer of the newspaper article is obviously inspired similarly as he uses the news of victory as a propaganda tool to sell papers and hope to a much larger audience.
The battle of Gettysburg was not so much a turning point as some have described it but a reminder that the war was far from over and no end was in the immediate future. The impact of the battle only reinforced to all involved of how devastating war can truly be.
Smithsonian Institution archives, “Institutional History Division, Battle of Gettysburg 1863“, Mary Henry Diaries, http://siarchives.si.edu/history/exhibits/documents/gettysburg.htm
( accessed February 26, 2009)
The Valley of the Shadow, “Civil War-Era Newspapers, Franklin Depository, July 8th, 1863 p. 4″, The Victory at Gettysburg http://valley.vcdh.virginia.edu/saxon/servlet/SaxonServlet?source=/xml_docs/valley_news/newspaper_catalog.xml&style=/xml_docs/valley_news/news_cat.xsl&level=edition&paper=fr&year=1863&month=07&day=08&edition=fr1863/pa.fr.fr.1863.07.08.xml#04
The Library of Congress, American Memory, “Selected Civil War Photographs, Time line of the Civil War, 1863, The Gettysburg Campaign”, Three Confederate Prisoners, July 1863 http://memory.loc.gov/service/pnp/cwpb/01400/01450v.jpg (accessed February 25, 2009)
The Library of Congress, American Memory, “Selected Civil War Photographs, Time line of the War, 1863, The Gettysburg Campaign”, Bodies of Federal soldiers, killed on July 1, near Mcpherson Woods O’Sullivan, Timothy H, 1840-1882, (photographer)
( accessed February 25, 2009)
Will Munny, Unforgiven, Warner Bros. 1992.
The Library of Congress, American Memory, “Selected Civil War Photographs, Time line of The Civil War, 1863, The Gettysburg Campaign”, Six officers of the 17th New York Battery, June 1863, http://memory.loc.gov/pnp/cwp/4a40000/4a40100/4a40138r.jpg
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Ohio History Central, An Online Encyclopedia of Ohio History, Battle of Gettysburg
http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=475&nm=Battle-of-Gettysburg (accessed February 26, 2009)
The Valley of the Shadow, “Letters and Diaries, Franklin County”, Diary of Samuel Cormany (1863) http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/browse-valley?id=FD1007&images=images/modeng/public/FD1007&data=/texts/english/civilwar/diaries&tag=public ( accessed February 26, 2009)