Jul 10

5 Little Known Facts About Gettysburg

Tuesday, July 10, 2018 12:01 AM

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The Battle of Gettysburg is commonly known as the battle that changed the course of the Civil war. Most people know the general location of Gettysburg; they know who the combatants were; everyone knows the outcome of the battle. However, there are some things that most people do not know. Below are 5 things that may surprise you about the Battle of Gettysburg.

 

1. General Meade’s Command

General Meade (Photo: Wikipedia)

General Meade (Photo: Thoughtco.com)

General Meade was the commander of the Union army during the Battle of Gettysburg. He was a brilliant officer and was respected by his troops. Few know that Meade was given command of his army less than a week before the battle. In General Meade’s own words “at 3 A.M. I was aroused from my sleep by an officer from Washington… he handed me a communication to read, which I found was an order relieving Hooker from the command and assigning it to me.”(1) This was on June 28, 1863. The Battle of Gettysburg started on July 1.

 

2. Troop Casualties

Gettysburg National Cemetery (Photo: wikipedia.org)

Gettysburg National Cemetery (Photo: wikipedia.org)

Most know Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles in American history, but what does that mean? In total, there were 51,112 casualties during the battle, including 7,058 dead, 33,264 wounded, and 10,790 missing(2). To put that in perspective, since 2001 there have been 56,422 killed or injured in the U.S. War on Terror. In only three days there was enough death and destruction to nearly match the past 17 years of conflict.

 

3. Robert E. Lee Graduated From West Point

General Lee (Photo: Battlefield.org)

General Lee (Photo: Battlefield.org)

The legendary general of the Confederate Army graduated from West Point. As a cadet, Lee graduated second in his class without any demerits. Commissioned into the Corps of Engineering, Lee served the U.S. with distinction until he resigned his commission at the beginning of the Civil War.

 

4. 3,000 Horses Were Killed

Horse Drawn Cannons (Photo: Civilwartalk.com)

Horse Drawn Cannons (Photo: Civilwartalk.com)

Horses were a vital necessity in the Civil War. They were used for cavalry charges, for messengers, and as beasts of burden. Six horses were required to haul some artillery pieces into place, and more were needed to haul the ammunition.

 

5. John Burns

John Burns (Photo: findagrave.com)

John Burns (Photo: findagrave.com)

John Burns was a civilian in Gettysburg that took up his old musket and went to fight for the Union. A veteran of the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War, Burns was 69 years old during the Battle of Gettysburg. Although captured by Confederate troops during the battle, he was able to talk himself free and sent home. Today, a statue of John Burns honors the memory of the aged fighter.

 


1Great Battles and Their Great Generals
2HistoryNet