by Ted Cleary, ASLA
JULY of 1863: following earlier Confederate victories that spring, Robert E. Lee has pushed northward into Pennsylvania. His Army of Northern Virginia bumps up against Union troops in the small town of Gettysburg, and skirmishes escalate. By the early afternoon of July third, two days of intense fighting has built to a climactic showdown, when Lee sends in a 12,000 troop offensive to cut the North’s Army of the Potomac’s flanks in half. After launching the largest artillery barrage the western hemisphere has ever seen to soften Union defenses, the cannons’ acrid smoke and thunderous noise, heard as far as forty miles away in Harrisburg, ceases from both sides.