Diary

THIS DAY IN HISTORY: July 4, 1863

"The Battle of Gettysburg", by Thure de Thulstrup, showing Pickett's Charge from the vantage point of the Union lines.
“The Battle of Gettysburg”, by Thure de Thulstrup. Shows Pickett’s Charge from the vantage point of the Union lines.
"Battle of Vicksburg", by Kurz and Allison.
“Battle of Vicksburg”, by Kurz and Allison.

Mindful of all the recent hubbub over the Confederate flag…Events of July 4, 1863 marked the beginning of the end of the Confederacy:  In Pennsylvania Robt E. Lee withdrew his broken Army of Northeern Virginia from Gettysburg after suffering as many as 25,000 killed, wounded or captured trying to break the Army of the Potomac on Cemetery Ridge while in Mississippi Ulysses S. Grant accepted the surrender of the fortress city of Vicksburg and its garrison after a 48-day siege.  (full disclosure:  my maternal grandmother’s great-uncle and his brother-in-law were riflemen in the 142nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, fighting at McPherson’s Ridge on Gettysburg’s first day and getting shelled in the preparatory bombardment for Pickett’s Charge on the third day.)

In the East the Army of the Potomac had finally shattered the perception of Lee’s battlefield invincibility while in the West the Army of the Tennessee had cut the Confederacy in two and handed the Union control of the Mississippi River all the way to the sea. The following summer would find the Army of the Potomac (then under Grant’s command) pursuing Lee’s army to defensive lines around Petersburg and the Army of the Tennessee (then under Sherman’s command) on the outskirts of Atlanta.