Battle of Gettysburg Ends: On This Day, July 3

The Battle of Gettysburg, fought in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, from July 1 to July 3, 1863, ended with a victory for Union General George Meade and the Army of the Potomac.

The three-day battle was the bloodiest in the war, with approximately 51,000 casualties. Even with such heavy losses, it proved to be a significant victory for the Union. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, under General Robert E. Lee, had invaded Union territory and was moving through southern Pennsylvania with an eye to Harrisburg, the state capital. General Lee hoped that defeating the Union army in a large battle on Northern territory would deliver a great, perhaps final blow to the war-weary United States. But the Union victory effectively ended the Confederate invasion of the North and provided a much-needed boost of morale for US soldiers and civilians alike.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought not only on the field, but on the streets of Gettysburg as well. On July 1, Confederate soldiers chased retreating Union soldiers through the town, then looted homes and cellars for valuables, clothing, and food. Despite this initial Union retreat, the battle ended on July 3 with Pickett’s Charge, in which a force of 15,000 Confederate soldiers charged through open fields at Union lines but failed to break through them.

In this video, take a virtual tour of the battlefield with historian Matthew Pinsker, Associate Professor of History and Pohanka Chair in American Civil War History, Dickinson College, as he provides a guide to the battle’s most important locations.

Explore Gettysburg: Insights and Perspectives, a special issue of History Now that features essays by leading historians and Featured Primary Sources from the Gilder Lehrman Collection.