In mid-June, Lee led his Army of Northern Virginia into Maryland and Pennsylvania in his second invasion of the North, hoping to take pressure off Virginia’s farms during the growing season and seeking a victory on Northern soil. His men encountered the Army of the Potomac, now under George Gordon Meade, at a crossroads town in southeastern Pennsylvania on July 1. Capturing the town but failing to take the high ground around it, Lee assailed the Union flanks the next day. The fighting on the Union left was particularly costly to both sides, memorializing Little and Big Round Top, Devil’s Den, the each Orchard and the Wheatfield. On the right, the Confederates nearly broke through on Culp’s and Cemetery hills before being repulsed. On July 3, Lee made perhaps his greatest mistake of the war, ordering a frontal attack across open ground against the Union center on Cemetery Ridge. Known as “Pickett’s Charge” for the commander of the largest Confederate division involved, George Pickett, the attack failed, leaving thousands of Southern soldiers dead and wounded. On Independence Day, a wagon train of wounded over 14 miles long began Lee’s retreat. With the Confederate’s loss of Vicksburg, Mississippi, that same day, July 4, 1863, is often described as the turning point of the Civil War. Read more about the Battle Of Gettysburg.
One of the reasons Farragut found so little opposition at New Orleans was that the Confederates were consolidating their forces in the West for a counterstrike at the Grant forces. After seizing the river forts on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers, General Grant had moved upstream (southward) on the Tennessee River to Pittsburg Landing near a small country church called Shiloh. There, on April 6, 1862, Confederate forces under Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston caught him by surprise, and in a furious dawn assault nearly drove his army into the river. The next morning Grant counterattacked and won back all the ground he had lost . Shiloh was the first battle that foreshadowed just how bloody the Civil War was likely to be as nearly 24,000 men fell killed, wounded and captured in the two days of fighting, seven times the losses at Bull Run-Manassas.
The American Civil War , arguably the most traumatic event in the history of the United States, was fought from 1861 to 1865, and was the culmination of sectional issues which deeply divided the country between a pro-Federal government North and a pro-states rights, in the pro-slavery South, whose eleven states formed a breakaway government called the Confederate States of America. The costliest war in terms of human lives, the American Civil War claimed in excess of 620,000 battle or disease-related deaths - roughly two percent of the country's total population, and nearly more deaths than all other American wars combined.