Union Victory in Battle of Gettysburg Marks Turning Point in Civil War

A primary care physician with multiple certifications, Dr. Kevin R. Buckwalter practices medicine in Las Vegas, Nevada. In his spare time, Kevin R. Buckwalter enjoys outdoor activities such as fishing, camping and hiking. He also travels and studies the Civil War.

Students of Civil War battles will come into contact with a few particularly well-known engagements such as Bull Run, Vicksburg, and Gettysburg. The last battle in particular has gained fame as a major turning point in the war.

The Battle of Gettysburg took part in the aftermath of the Confederate victory at Chancellorsville in Virginia. General Robert E. Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania sought to seize the strategic initiative and force the Union onto a defensive footing, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the position of Northerners who wanted the Lincoln administration to pursue a negotiated peace.

In the initial skirmishes of the battle, the Confederates pushed Union cavalry and infantry out of Gettysburg and into the hills to its south. Union forces under General George Meade dug in and withstood courageous but ultimately futile assaults by the rebel forces culminating in Pickett’s Charge, a failed frontal assault by the Confederate infantry. By inflicting more casualties than they received and forcing Lee’s forces to retreat to Virginia for the second time, Meade and his army won a strategic and tactical victory for the Union.

Four months after the battle, President Lincoln delivered the famous (and famously short) Gettysburg Address commemorating the thousands of federal troops who died in the battle.