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Defining Moment American Nation__Lincoln at Gettysburg PA Force of History Past Present and Future

Updated on February 11, 2013

President's Few Remarks at Battlefield Memorial

The time was in the afternoon of November 19, 1863. The event was dedication of a National Cemetary to the soldiers who died in the Battlefield of Gettysburg, PA. The President of the United States was invited to make a few remarks.

His remarks were scheduled after an oration by the famous orator of that time, Edward Everett, U.S. Congressman and educator. The program organized by the Willis Committee included music by several bands, prayer, oration, remarks by the President, choir, and then benediction. Abraham Lincoln spoke for 2 minutes.

Those remarks became the defining moment for the American nation subsequently linking past, present, today in the second decade of 21st Century and beyond, next generation, impatiently waiting in the wing.

The Battle of Gettysburg which took place on July 01 to 03, 1863 started nearly accidentally. It was as if destiny and force of history dictated the event rather than political leaders or generals in either side of the Civil War.

A Rebel Chief's War Strategy

Quick Victory Over Larger Force & Material

Gettysburg invasion was a second necessary attempt by Robert E. Lee to score a decisive millitary victory on Union territory as was necessary for the Rebel government's stated political wish to secede from the Union.

Abraham Lincoln, the President of United States was determined to keep the nation together, with or without slavery as he repeated many times in his speech and in conversations specially after his election as the President in 1861.

Prior to his millitary invasion, Lee had traveled to Richmond, VA, the Rebel Capitol in secrecy to meet with the Confedrate President, Jefferson Davis and his cabinet .

The agenda was to discuss millitary plan & logical strategy to score a decisive millitary victory in Union territory to create political, millitary, and public urgency to negotiated settlement allowing Confederate government to secede .

Robert E. Lee had accepted the additional responsbility of Field Command of the Army of Northern Virginia in June of 1862 when Joseph E. Johnson, the Field Commander was wounded in Northern Virginia battle.

Lee then had the field command as well as strategic planning command when his rebel forces of 56,000 men had invaded Maryland and battled the Union forces at Antitem Creek near Sharpsburg, MD. The Battle of Antitem Creek took place on September 17, 1862.

Taking The War to Union Soil - __First Effort at Antitem Creek

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Casualty at the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antitem) was appauling, with nearly equal loss for the Union and the Rebels with nearly 23,000 dead, wounded or missing. Antitem is considered a strategic union victory.

But on the battlefield Lee's remaining army was able to writhdraw back into Virginia despite the severe loss suffered in this unprecedented and startling battlefield casualty. Today that record of casualties remains a record in any one day engagement in American soil 150 years later.

The strategic victory of the Union at Sharpsburg allowed President Lincoln to declare his famed "Emancipation Proclaimation" on January 1, 1863 legally freeling all slaves in America.

To include incentives for winning over some of the border states with so called "peace democrats" , there was an element of compensation for owners of "slave property" in his now revered "Emancipation Proclaimation" document.

Rebel Chief Disengage and Retreat Back To Virginia - Try Invastion Again At Next Opportunity

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But the war was far from over. The Battle of Gettysburg, Lee's second attempt for a decisive victory on Union territory still lay ahead with appalling loss life and casualty on July 1-3, 1863.

That Gettysburg battle, with the overwhelmingly larger force and material of the Union forces was again a strategic victory for Union.

But Lee's army was not totally destroyed.

Again Lee's remaining forces escaped back to Virginia once it was clear to Lee that his forces could not win in that battlefield in July 1-3, 1863.

The human loses on both side appauling as they were, but did not allow either side to seek peace through negotiation.

But Abraham Lincoln now had finally found the general he had been searching for who could deliver victory in the battlefield.

Now it was after six successive Commander in Chief who could not deliver final victory to the Union millitary force and end the Civil War.

This new Union Commander in Chief's name was Ulysis S. Grant (1822-1885)

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President Lincoln Reelected - __November, 1864

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In the November election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln had expected to lose the election to his “Peace Democrat” Rival, and former Chief of Staff of the Union Army,.

However Abraham Lincoln was reelcted President over rival George B. McClellan. The 1864 election did not include the Confederate States. Electoral votes were overwhelmingly in favor of Abraham Lincoln , the popular vote relatively close, 55% for Lincoln to 45% for McClellan.

Relentless overland campaign of Grant from Northern Virginia to Petersburg, Va, a key railroad junction for the Confederate supply line, remained ahead.

Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugaral speech pormising “With malice toward none; with charity for all ..” was not to be implemented for millions of suffering and grieving southern families in the South at the end of Civil War .

Lee’s rememnant forces surrendered on April 9, 1865 to General Ulysis S. Grant’s relentless pursuit of the then remnenat forces of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

War Ends With Lee’s Surrender - President Assasinated at Ford Theater, Washington DC

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On April 14, 1865, a Southern sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, an actor at the Ford Theater, assissinated President Lincoln as he attended a theater perfornmance at the Ford Theater in Washingotn DC, a few blocks from the White House, President’s residence in Washington DC.

Booth and his conspirators unilaeral aciton of violence enormously increased the suffering of common people, families both black and white during the reconstruction period of decades to come to end of the 19th Century to the early part of the 20th Century.

New Birth of Freedom promised by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg Speech on November 19, 1863 was far far away for people of America when the assisn of the President chose to end the life of one President who could have delivered justice, peace and charity to the people of the South more than anyone else at the end of the America Civil War.

Thus is a summary of the Defining Moment American Nation__Lincoln at Gettysburg PA Past Present and Future Force of History

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