From July 1 through July 3, 1863, Union and Confederate soldiers fought a fierce battle in the borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, near the Maryland state line.
When the battle ended, 8,900 soldiers lay dead on the field. 22,000 wounded soldiers were treated in homes, schools, and a hospital nearby. Today the area memorializes this sad time in American history.
- Confederate general Robert E. Lee had repeatedly defeated Union troops and was rapidly moving north.
- The Union and Confederate troops met and tangled for three days at Gettysburg. The ensuing battle was the bloodiest of the Civil War. It was also a turning point for the Union army, which defeated the Confederates and stopped Lee’s march northward.
- After the war, Union leaders began burying the dead, many where they had fallen. They soon began discussing the need for a national cemetery, raising funds, and developing plans for it.
- Four months later, on November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln gave a dedicatory speech at the cemetery. This speech became known as the “Gettysburg Address” and is one of the most well-known and influential speeches in American history.
- Lincoln’s speech was very brief – only 271 words – but he talked about how America was founded on the idea that all men are created equal and must be free. He urged Americans to remember the men who died at Gettysburg and to resolve to support the ideals of liberty and equality. He said that our nation would rise or fall based on our ability to do this.
- Today visitors to the Gettysburg Battlefield can view key landmarks, memorials, and the Soldier’s National Cemetery.
- Liberty: freedom and justice
- Landmark: a place that marks an important moment or event
Questions and Answers
Question: Were the Confederate soldiers buried in the National Cemetery?
Answer: They were originally buried on the battlefield, but their bodies were later sent to cemeteries in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
Watch a video about Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
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Declan, Tobin. " Gettysburg Battlefield Facts ." American History for Kids, Aug 2020. Web. 05 Aug 2020. < https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/gettysburg-battlefield/ >.
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Tobin, Declan. (2020). Gettysburg Battlefield Facts. American History for Kids. Retrieved from https://www.americanhistoryforkids.com/gettysburg-battlefield/