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How the Battle of Gettysburg Worked


Results of the Battle of Gettysburg
The cemetery at Gettysburg National Military Park
The cemetery at Gettysburg National Military Park
Dennie Cody/Taxi/Getty Images

Of the 88,000 Northern troops in the battle, more than 23,000 were killed or wounded, about 26.1 percent. Of 75,000 Confederate troops, more than 28,000 were killed or wounded, approximately 37.3 percent. More than 7,000 men died over the course of those three days. More important for the war, however, the Confederate Army was forced to retreat back to Virginia and would not return to the North. That eased tensions for Northerners worried that the war was coming to their doorstep, and it ensured that Robert E. Lee would not capture Washington, D.C., and force a peace from Lincoln.

The Battle of Gettysburg did not end the war. Some in the North, including Lincoln, blamed Gen. George Meade for not pursuing the defeated Confederate Army and for allowing it to cross the Potomac and regroup. In fact, Lincoln would fire Meade shortly after the battle because of this. However, some historians argue that the Union Army had suffered greatly at Gettysburg, too, and may not have been physically able to pursue the enemy, especially since Meade had lost two of his top generals, Reynolds and Hancock.

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