Confederate casualties lie where they fell in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, just two days after the decisive Union victory.
Photograph by Alexander Gardner, courtesy Library of Congress

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  • On July 3, 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg ended with a decisive Union victory. The Battle of Gettysburg would emerge as the turning point in the U.S. Civil War, often regarded the Confederacy’s last, best chance for an ultimate victory.
    Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, became the “High-Water Mark of the Confederacy.” This is not just a metaphor, but an actual location nicknamed “the Angle” in the Cemetery Ridge section of the Gettysburg battlefield. Hundreds of meters from the Angle, Confederate General Robert E. Lee ordered troops under General George Pickett to attack a Union stronghold. The High-Water Mark was the furthest north Pickett’s soldiers forced the Union to retreat, although nearly all Confederate soldiers were quickly captured or killed.
    The devastating failure of “Pickett’s Charge” and the loss at Gettysburg were disasters for the Confederacy—although not immediately. Lee retreated, never organizing an offensive maneuver on the scale of the Gettysburg campaign. He surrendered, and the Confederacy collapsed, two years later.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    battlefield Noun

    specific place where violence is carried out, as part of a larger war or other conflict.

    campaign Noun

    activities designed to achieve a social, political, or military goal.

    Civil War Noun

    (1860-1865) American conflict between the Union (north) and Confederacy (south).

    Confederate Adjective

    having to do with the Confederate States of America (south) during the Civil War.

    decisive Adjective

    able to make decisions with certainty.

    devastating Adjective

    very destructive or damaging.

    disaster Noun

    terrible and damaging event.

    emerge Verb

    to develop or come into view.

    location Noun

    position of a particular point on the surface of the Earth.

    Encyclopedic Entry: location
    maneuver Noun

    a skillful movement.

    metaphor Noun

    word or phrase used to represent something else, or an understanding of one concept in terms of another concept. 

    offensive Adjective

    invading or attacking, not defending.

    retreat Verb

    to go back to a familiar or safe place.

    surrender Verb

    to give up.

    troop Noun

    a soldier.

    ultimate Adjective

    final or maximum.

    Union Adjective

    having to do with states supporting the United States (north) during the U.S. Civil War.