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Day 3

Lee was confident after the events of July 2. That night, he ordered General Longstreet, who had been reinforced by General Pickett's division, to renew his assault on the Union left. Simultaneously, General Ewell, was to storm Culp's Hill. Jeb Stuart's cavalry, which had rejoined the army late that day, was ordered to march east of Gettysburg, and attempt to penetrate to the Union rear to disrupt communications and distract Meade.

Meanwhile, Meade had determined to hold his position. However, at Culp's Hill he authorized XII Corps to drive Ewell's forces out of the captured Union trenches at daylight. The effort opened with a concentrated artillery bombardment which started a tremendous musketry battle.

With Ewell already engaged, Lee rode to Longstreet's headquarters to observe his preparations for the attack on the Union left. Longstreet misunderstood his orders and was planning instead a movement to turn the Federal left. With the hope of a coordinated attack now lost, Lee was forced to modify his plans. He determined to shift his main attack to the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Longstreet was placed in command of the effort. The plan was first to subject the Union position to bombardment by nearly 140 cannon, then to send Pickett with - nearly 12,000 men - forward to smash the Federal center.>

While Longstreet made his preparations during the morning, Ewell's forces were defeated in their counterattacks on Culp's Hill, and withdrew around 11:00 a.m.

At l:00 p.m., Longstreet opened the great bombardment of the Union line. The Union army replied with approximately 80 cannon and a giant duel ensued which lasted for nearly two hours. Lee did not know that the Confederate cannon had overshot their targets and had little effect. After the bombardment subsided, the infantry went forward.

This has been known throughout history s "Pickett's Charge." Union artillery, followed by musketry, cut Confederate troops to pieces and inflicted devastating losses. A small Confederate force managed one small penetration of the Federal line, but was overwhelmed. The attack ended in disaster, with nearly 5,600 Confederate casualties.

The battle was effectively over. Union losses numbered approximately 23,000, while estimates of Confederate losses range between 20,000 and 28,000.

Credits and Resources

The Charge
A Summary Of Pickett's Charge.
A 46 Minute Video From The History Channel.
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