Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
Imagine sitting on a hill being shot at from down below. Sharpshooters hidden in rocks are shooting troops left and right. Blood splattering on the grass. The battle at Gettysburg was at hand. The Battle of Gettysburg was the battle with the most casualties, from both sides, in the Civil War. It’s astonishing to see many other historical events that went on “behind the scenes” of all the fighting. There were many other crucial and smaller battles that took place within the main battle. The Civil War itself was fought over slavery, economics, and political control between the Union and Confederate states.
Gettysburg was fought on July 1-3 in 1863 after the Confederates won a battle in Chancellorsville. General Robert E. Lee marched his Confederate army from Northern Virginia to Pennsylvania in late summer. During the first three days of July, the Battle of Gettysburg got intense with many casualties of soldiers from both sides. Although the Battle of Gettysburg was bloody and intense, there were many other facets that took place, including Devil’s Den, Jennie Wade, and Pickett’s Charge.
Devil’s Den was one of the many side-battles that took place in Gettysburg. Devil’s Den is located in Gettysburg, PA in Adams County. It is about 500 yards west of Little Round Top. The origin of the name is uncertain. Devil’s Den has two humongous boulders and other massive rocks that are tightly packed together. The broken ground lies in an angle between Plum Run and a small tributary branch. To clarify, Plum Run is a stream flowing southward from the Gettysburg battlefield. A tributary branch is a small stream or river that flows into a larger one.
The Confederates were having trouble. General Robert E. Lee and other lower generals were discussing how to attack the Union. Which side should they attack them? What time? Disputes started to break out. Major General John Bell Hood was one of these generals. He ignored the orders of his superior, General Longstreet, and moved his troops eastward and attacked Devil’s Den and the Round Tops. General Hood attacked at around 4 p.m and intense fighting broke out.
Confederate sharpshooters were wedged in the rocks firing at the Union Soldiers at Little Round Top, giving the Union an unfair advantage because they barely had any cover. 5,500 Confederate soldiers versus 2,400 defending Union Soldiers. The Confederates successfully captured Devil’s Den with casualties ranking up to 1,800 for the Confederates and 800 for the Union. This was a victory for the Confederates. It was one of the few battles the Confederates won that day of fighting because of their battle strategy(“Devil’s Den”, HistoryNet).
Born on May 21, 1843, Mary Virginia Wade, also known as Jennie Wade, was a brave woman who showed intense bravery. Jennie’s father was a tailor but had frequent problems with the law. Eventually, he was sent to a poorhouse as a lunatic. To clarify, a poor house was a farm or an estate that poor people, mentally ill, and orphans would go to. They were supposed to help people who were financially struggling. So, with Jennie’s father gone, she and her mother made their earnings by being seamstresses. She and her mother also took care of a 6-year-old boy named Isaac Brinkerhoff who was disabled.
When the Battle of Gettysburg broke out on the first day in 1863, Jennie, her mom, and Isaac went to her sister’s house. Georgia McClellan, Jennie’s sister, just had a son who was 5 days old. Her sister’s house was also considered safe from the battle zone, and the family wanted to help Georgia with the new addition. But, that afternoon, Union soldiers retreated into the hills south of the town. The house was in direct line of fire. Jennie kept a cool head as she gave out water and bread to the Union Soldiers. Following that day, bullets flew.
They would hit the red brick house, leaving dents and holes and shattering windows. An artillery shell crashed through the roof. Knocking a hole into the wall, it rested in the eaves for 15 years. Thankfully, the shell never exploded. Jennie would occasionally faint throughout the day, but never stopped working. Giving water and food to the soldiers while caring for her postpartum sister. The next morning, Jennie collected some firewood with her brother. After, she ate some breakfast and read out of the book of Psalms. Around at 8:30 a.m, Jennie has nearly finished kneading the dough when a bullet penetrated through two doors, and right into Jennie’s heart. Union soldiers rushed when they heard Georgia scream.
The soldiers helped the whole family move into the cellar, safe from Confederate sharpshooters. Jennie was wrapped in a quilt and temporarily buried in the front yard of the house. In January 1864, she was moved to the town’s cemetery next to the German Reformed Church. In November 1865, she was moved to Evergreen Cemetery and has remained there ever since. A monument was built over her grave in 1900. Jennie Wade was often known as a hero. She took the time out of her day to give water and bread to the soldiers fighting nearby. She was the only civilian who died during the three days of Gettysburg.
Other citizens perished after the battle due to faulty muskets and artillery shells exploding in their hands. The Jennie Wade house has become a popular tourist attraction despite it not being Jennie’s house, but her sisters. The households ghost tours, tours, and a little shop next to the house still to this day. Jennie Wade showed bravery by going out during battle to give water and bread to soldiers. Not everyone can do that. She is recognized as a hero for stepping out there and doing the extreme(Greenspan, Jesse).
An infantry assault of 15,000 Confederate soldiers was coming to attack the Union General Meade. General Meade’s troops were lined against Cemetery Ridge. 6,500 Union soldiers were ready to defend the ridge. A charge was about to happen, and make another part of history. It was early morning on July 3, Union forces had pushed back the threat of the Confederate soldiers at Culp’s Hill after an intense seven-hour fight. Confederate General Robert E. Lee had confidence that he was on the edge of victory.
So, he sent three divisions with an artillery barrage against the Union soldiers. These few 15,000 troops would be lead by George Pickett(Knauer, Kelly). He was ordered to march some three-quarters of a mile across open fields to attack Union dug-in infantry. General Longstreet argued with Lee, saying it was a bad idea, but Lee ignored Longstreet and went forward with the attack, known as Pickett’s charge. Pickett leads his division forward around 3 p.m, after an artillery charge by about 150 Confederate guns.
With this, the Union troops opened fire on the advancing and open troops. To make matters worse for the Confederates, regiments from Vermont, New York, and Ohio attacked the Confederate’s flanks. Barely half of the Confederates survived. General Lee, Longstreet, and the soldiers scrambled away to safety after being taken over so easily by Union soldiers. Pickett was absolutely humiliated on how easily he was defeated during this battle. This assault went down in history. It completely failed and almost two-thirds of Pickett’s troops were gone. Without this failed attacked, Confederate soldiers would have kept moving North and take over Union territory(“Battle of Gettysburg”, History.com).
Devil’s Den, Jennie Wade, and Pickett’s Charge are important events that happened during the Battle of Gettysburg. From an unfair advantage to the only civilian to die during the war, to the failed attack that went down in history. The U.S didn’t have much faith with the Union. The Union didn’t win any major battles in the east. Prior to Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee had a tremendous victory at Chancellorsville and started to march his army towards the union. Robert E. Lee victory got to this head. After Gettysburg, Lee’s army was forced to retreat and never recovered.
The Union never lost a battle after Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg is known for the intense fighting and the historical events that took place. This battle is what changed history, and the events in it. The importance of recognizing the battle and events is crucial. Who knows, up north could have been the southern territory.