Gettysburg: The Decisive Battle of the Civil War

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Gettysburg: The Decisive Battle of the Civil War

The battle of Gettysburg was an extremely important battle of the Civil War. Gettysburg was the decisive battle of the Civil War because the South lost an irreplaceable amount of troops and officers; it caused the European powers not to intervene in the war; it created dissension among the officers of the Confederacy; it strengthened the Northern population's will to continue the war, while it hurt the Southern population's will to stay in the war.

At Gettysburg, Lee lost an immense amount of men, which the Southern population could never replace. "Losing at Gettysburg, the Confederates had lost more than they could well afford to lose." (Alexander, p. 328) "The Federals lost 23,000 men and the Confederates at least that many--which meant Lee lost nearly a third of his whole army." (Leekley, p. 237) The South had so many casualties that "Lee's train of wounded stretched more than fourteen miles."

( The South could not sustain such heavy losses, and "...[Lee] returned to Virginia with a crippled army that never again, in the two years that followed, would be able to launch a major offensive." (Davis, p. 175) Since the war had already been in duration for almost three years, "The Confederacy no longer had resources to replace men or equipment." (Smolinski, p. 25) The Confederates gained almost nothing and lost everything. At Gettysburg, "Meade had forced Lee to return home with nothing but substantial booty and manpower losses to show for his much advertised invasion." (Stackpole, p. 307) "A lieutenant in the 11th Virginia summed it up for all when he declared, 'We gained nothing but glory and lost our bravest men.'" (Trudeau, p. 527)

The Confederate Army's officer corps was decimated. "Lee suffered staggering losses with... losses among his officers...