The Battle of Gettysburg

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The prelude to the Civil War was traced by political deals, disputes over slavery and polarization between Northerners and Southerners. The confrontation grew and escalated during the war, and the battle of Gettysburg proved to be one of the cardinal conflicts followed by subduing the Southern forces.

One of the principal reasons for Gen. Robert E. Lee – one of the iconic figures of the Confederacy who originated from Virginia – to confront the Union army lay deep in his endeavor to drive the European countries to a specific act: the recognition of the Confederate States of America, established by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas when – in 1860 – Abraham Lincoln won the elections for president, and later on joined by Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia provoked by the outcome of the Battle of Fort Sumter.

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Another motivation for Gen. Lee to seize the North was rooted in his ambition to demoralize the opponents of the values and goals of the Confederacy.

Under Gen. Lee’s command, his Second Corps person in authority – who was LTG Richard Ewell – was directed to Gettysburg. That strategic move was also inspired by the appointment of Gen. George Meade by Lincoln as a commander of the Union Army of the Potomac – the Union’s shield and blade. Gen. Meade was supported by the cavalry, too, during his advancement to Gettysburg.

The battle started on July 1, 1863. Gen. Lee’s Confederate army amounted to seventy-five thousand troops. The Union took advantage of new weaponry – rifles of seven repeating shots. The grave losses on each side indicated the nature of the fighting during the first day.

The second day was characterized by attacks and counteroffensives – desperate in their nature and outcome for both sides. Rocky hills, terrains, and locations like the Peach Orchard, Devil’s Den, Little Round Top, Cemetery Hill, etc., were the main targets for securing and gaining control over the enemy.

It was Cemetery Hill that LTG Ewell was instructed by his commander, Gen. Lee, to be attacked – if advantageous – in order to defeat utterly the position of the Union forces. LTG Ewell did not follow the instructions to storm. Some historians consider – from a present, neutral perspective – that the act of failure to adhere to the plan played a part in the defeat of the Confederate forces. Gen. Lee’s report of the battle, however, threw light on his own remark for an overall seizure of the hill to be avoided up to the time that other divisions would arrive as a support for the offensive. The delay allowed for the Federal forces to re-group, and make use of the position as the main pillar for their defensive line.

That third day when the battle’s culmination developed in full swing, three Confederate brigades amounting to a total of fifteen thousand, led by Gen. George E. Pickett, undertook an offensive widely known as Pickett’s Charge. They were massively attacked, however, weakened by the Federal heavy weaponry, and retreated. Nineteen battle flags were left on the battlefield; the Confederate flag was the Stainless Banner in 1863. The rebel flag was known as the flag that “started a war” from the Battle of Fort Sumter.

 

During the night of July 4, Gen. Lee launched the Confederate retreat back to Virginia.

The total losses of the battle were among the Civil War’s most massive.

Confederate Flag and Racism

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The Confederate flag was first created for the army of the South that fought to preserve their right (at the time) to legally own and trade slaves in the United States. Although the American Civil War has long since ended, questionable groups, often associated with racism and hate, as well as many average people in the south continue to pay homage to the flag. The issue of the Confederate flag has been a hot button issue for years, and with the recent murders of nine African-Americans in a southern church, the debate was reignited: is the Confederate flag racist?

 

Well, it depends on who you talk to. Some people try to claim that anywhere that has the confederate flag for sale is racist. To African-Americans, many of whom had ancestors traded or owned as slaves, the answer is unquestionably yes. However, to those in the southern United States who has family ancestors fight and die for the South in the civil war, the answer is a little less clear. Many of them see the flag as a symbol of the sacrifices of their ancestors and believe that the flag and racism are not inherently connected. It seems like Americans really can’t decide, as recent national polls seem to show a split that’s almost 50/50 on the question.

 

 

Whether or not the Confederate flag is truly racist or not is undoubtedly a tough egg to crack, but to truly understand the flag, it’s origins and context, as well as its purpose today, are definitely important. By taking a closer look at the flag’s history, one thing is immediately apparent – that the flag existed at the time in support of slavery. The Confederate flag did not exist before the civil war, and the main issue at stake between the North and the South was the issue of slavery. Now, if we look in a modern context, I’m sure that the flag is used as more of heritage or historical item, but the question has to be asked – is there not a more suitable memento than a flag 50 percent of the country believes to be racist?

 

I think we can all agree that slavery – whether during the United States civil war era or any other period in history, is racist. So then, if we understand that the Confederate flag was created for the pro-slavery side of the war, it stands to reason to understand that the Confederate flag is a racist symbol. If these racist beginnings were long forgotten then it would be reasonable to consider the flag as merely a symbol of Southern history and pride today. Unfortunately, though, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other hate groups still fly the flag and racist attacks have been associated with the flag in recent years as well. Regardless of the flag’s beginnings, evidence is clear in showing us that in modern times many of us associate the Confederate flag with white supremacy.

 

At the end of the day, though, banners are meant to connect many people under one banner – just as the stars and stripes unite all Americans. If your flag seriously offends 50 percent of the population and its only purpose is to show your history and pride…well, then it might be time to find a new symbol for your story and pride.