Answer: A Giant Reunion
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the Civil War that almost tore our country apart. To this day, the battle holds the record for the largest number of casualties and is considered the most important engagement of the American Civil War. Attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army were thwarted by Union Maj. Gen. George Meade’s Army of the Potomac, thus preventing Lee’s invasion of the North.
All told, roughly 16,000 men died on the first day alone and if the battle only lasted those first twenty-four hours, Gettysburg still would have been one of the 20 highest body counts of any battle in the war. When all was said and done, casualties at Gettysburg totaled 23,049 for the Union (3,155 dead, 14,529 wounded, 5,365 missing) and 28,063 for the Confederates (3,903 dead, 18,735 injured, and 5,425 missing). This number was more than a third of Lee’s army.
While there were certainly lasting scars, some fifty years later men and women from both sides came together for a reunion party at Gettysburg to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its great battle. According to Mental Floss, “the event began on June 29, 1913 and lasted until the sixth of July. Over 50,000 Civil War vets—most of whom were in their seventies—turned up to commemorate the battle. New memorials were dedicated, former enemies took photos together, and President Woodrow Wilson dropped by to give a speech. A highlight was the peaceful reenactment of Pickett’s Charge: 200 men retraced the steps they’d taken half a century prior and then met up on Cemetery Ridge to trade handshakes.” This momentous gathering was made possible by the U.S. War Department, multiple state legislatures and even a former MLB player who had become Pennsylvania’s governor. Needless to say, it was a big step forward in helping to heal our nation, which came just in time as the world was about to plunge into the first Great War.
Cover Photo: 1913 – At the 50th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, Union (left) and Confederate (right) veterans shake hands at a reunion, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Image: Public Domain