July 3, 1863

The final day of the  Battle of Gettysburg started with both sides licking their wounds.  The Union troops had been driving from their positions on the first day of the battle and the Confederates had been hammered hard on the second day. Lee, feeling his momentum slipping away, decided on an all out attack on what he perceived to be the weakest part of the Union line – directly in the center.

Pickett's Charge

Pickett’s Charge left the sanctuary of the trees that and attacked the Union line a mile or so in the distance.  From this perspective, you can see the small copse of trees (the small clump of trees  in the background of the image in the center right) that the Charge reached.  You can also see, in the right foreground, the place where Lee consoled the survivors of Pickett’s charge after their defeat at the hands of some 7,000 Union troops.

From this view, within the Union lines, you can see the High Water Mark – the farthest expansion north of the Confederacy during the battle – and the Civil War as a whole.  Fighting in and around the copse was fierce – and after getting repulsed, the Confederates had to retreat all the way back to the treeline in the distance across the killing field.

High Water Mark

The National Park Service has done an outstanding job with the battlefield, keeping treelines and open spaces very close to what they were at the time of the battle.  Gettysburg is one of those rare places where you can feel the history of the place all around you; it practically seeps into your subconscious at every step.

Even now, nearly 150 years after the battle, you are still overcome with the historic weight of the place, and it still has to power to move you.


~ by Derrick Birdsall on July 3, 2010.

4 Responses to “July 3, 1863”

  1. Nicely done Derrick.


  2. Thank you paisan!


  3. I have been enjoying these posts on the history of the Civil War, which was anything but civil. Great on-location photos here. I remember the eerie feeling of visiting one Civil War battleground and your writing captures that well too.


  4. Thanks, David. I may have mentioned in my posts that I have felt that strong connection with the past at a few other historical sights – it’s almost as if you can feel the pressure of those who were there. Gettysburg is one of those places too. Very, very powerful stuff.
    These pics gave me the chance to combine my emerging photography skills with my “real” job. 😉


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