Introduction to Gettysburg

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Introduction to the movie Gettysburg.  Released on the 130th anniversary of the battle, I will have it playing at my home during the 150th anniversary next week.  Overlong, and historically suspect, especially as to its Longstreet-could-do-no wrong  perspective, it still is a masterpiece.  It captures perfectly the desperate nature of the battle that has become the symbol of that fratricidal conflict.  The late Shelby Foote once said that to understand this country you needed to understand the Civil War.  I concur, and I would also suggest that it is impossible to understand the Civil War without understanding Gettysburg,  a battle which marked the end of Lee’s perceived invincibility and gave Lincoln an opportunity to explain to the people why so many men had to die so their nation might live.

Stay tuned to The American Catholic for several posts in the next few days on Gettysburg and the Civil War.

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  1. “Spoiler alert” . . .

    I’m kidding.

    Summer 1862 the Peninsula – drove McClellan from Richmond BUT the Federals reached safety at Harrison’s Landing on the James River.

    August 1862 – Second Manassas – Pope’s army escaped critical damage by retreating to the DC defenses.

    September 1862 – Antietam – Lee’s narrow tactical victory – too weakened to force a showdown. Lee surrendered the strategic initiative until June 1863. He learned (McClellan testimony) about the “lost order” and thought without that he could win in an invasion

    December 1862 – Fredericksburg, Lee easily defeated the Federals. Big victory, but Federals escaped across the Rappahannock River. Lee said “. . . had gained not an inch of ground and the enemy could not be pursued.”

    May 1863 – Chancellorsville, Lee again beat the Federals – against longer odds, but less easily. However, it was done at high cost. Lost Jackson and 13,500 casualties – Rebel KIA slightly exceeded Union KIA.

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