The battle of Gettysburg, fought in July 1863 was pivotal in the Civil War and ultimately changed the future of the United States. The largest and bloodiest battle fought on American soil halted General Robert E. Lee’s second Confederate invasion of the North.
Following recent victory at Chancellorsville, General Robert E. Lee made the decision to invade the North. Initially he planned to find new foraging grounds for his troops before turning his attention on the Union Army. However, the Union Army of the Potomac had already deployed north from Washington in anticipation of Lee’s advance. The outcome was a meeting engagement, between Confederate reconnaissance troops and Union cavalry west of Gettysburg, leading to a major battle of the two armies which ultimately left over 7,000 dead and 40,000 wounded or missing.
No major Confederate invasion of the North would be mounted after this point and although the war continued for another two years, after Gettysburg it was fought on southern ground.
Given this tactical battle had operational outcomes and huge strategic significance it is fitting that the Directing Staff of Army Division, Defence Academy of the UK visited Gettysburg 155 years later. Deploying on Ex EAGLE OWL alongside US Army Officers at the Command and General Staff College Kansas, the British instructors took the opportunity to develop their understanding of this pivotal battle.
Given this impact and the sheer scale of battle, Gettysburg could never be forgotten, but President Abraham Lincoln immortalised the action through his Gettysburg address in November 1863. In less than 300 words, Lincoln expressed the nation’s dedication to the cause of war, and used Gettysburg to justify the cost.
The team discussed lessons that could be relevant to modern conflict. One of the most prominent themes across the weekend was that of mission command, and in particular, how contemporary commanders might communicate in a hostile electronic environment that renders modern systems unusable.
Army Division staff visited the National Cemetery at Gettysburg to reflect upon the enormity, sacrifice and cost of the battle. They laid a wreath, near the site where Lincoln delivered his address, to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom that formed the modern United States.
Major Philip Carrotte, Directing Staff, Army Division said “This was an extremely poignant visit to see where such an important battle in the forming of modern American took place. It was extremely fitting to be able to lay a wreath in memory of the vast amount soldiers who lost their lives during the battle of Gettysburg. The visit also gave us the opportunity to continue to build relationships with one of our biggest allies.”
You can read more about the battle by visiting https://www.nps.gov/gett/index.htm