On this date in 1863, 150 years ago today, the third, final and most bloody day of the Battle of Gettysburg was in progress. That afternoon, about fifteen thousand Confederate troops would make a suicidally gallant, but doomed, charge towards the center of the Union line. It would become known as Pickett’s Charge, after one of the three Confederate generals who commanded the attack, George Pickett. A few Confederate troops breached the Union line at The Angle, but could not hold it. This place later became known as ‘The High-Water Mark of the Confederacy‘.
I make it a point, every year at about this time, to watch the magnificent movie ‘Gettysburg‘. Released in 1993, in my opinion it’s one of the greatest war films ever made.
It covers the battle in compressed form, focusing on some of the more dramatic incidents, with outstanding portrayals of participants by a star-studded cast. It’s unique in having used the services of thousands of Civil War reenactors to portray the combatants. They provided their own historically-accurate weapons and equipment, allowing the producers to make the film without incurring prohibitive expense. I highly recommend the film to those who haven’t yet seen it. The most complete version currently available is the Blu-Ray DVD ‘Directors Cut’ edition, which reincorporates several scenes that were deleted from the original VHS and DVD editions. In my opinion, it belongs in every American’s collection.
Total casualties during the battle have been estimated by many historians using many sources. The most frequent estimate is between 50,000 and 51,000 killed and wounded, with a low estimate of 46,000 and a high estimate of 53,000. Whatever the figure, it was undoubtedly the most bloody battle ever fought on American soil, and the casualty toll was the greatest of any single battle in history involving American troops (even though they were fighting each other at the time).
May those who fought there, particularly those who died, rest in peace, and may their sins be forgiven them.