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Letter: Discrepancies In Speech

(Editor’s note: The following is in response to “The Minute of History—Gettysburg 150: The Farmingdale Connection” by Serena Carter Brochu that printed in the Farmingdale Observer on Friday, July 19.)

It was quite refreshing to read about the 150th Anniversary of the deciding battle of the American Civil War. The article written by Serena Carter Brochu was an interesting article about Farmingdale’s involvement.

Not to be picky, but there are two errors in her reporting of the greatest battle on America’s soil.

First, Pennsylvania had the most troops involved, not New York. The Pennsylvania Memorial built on the Gettysburg battlefield is the largest monument there to represent their majority participation.

Second, the first two days of the battle were not entirely successful for the confederates. Confederate attacks on the northern flank of the Union Army were repulsed on Culps Hill and Seminary Ridge. The southern flank was attacked and beaten off on Little Round Top, the Devils Den and the Peach Orchard. This was where the bloodiest part of the battle took place. Some of it was hand to hand.

Lee’s failure on the first two days of the battle set the stage for the disaster that was know as Pickett’s charge. Lee’s strategy was to smash the Union center after feeling that was where they were the weakest, having attacked both flanks the previous two days and believing the Union would have set reserves to those areas leaving the center vulnerable.  Lee had his artillery pound the Union center with sustained fire. However, Lee was unable to see, because of all the smoke on the field, that his cannon fire was overshooting the Union lines and hadn’t damaged the Union cannons. When Pickett ordered his men forward they walked into the open field of fire. The Union artillery punched wide holes in the advancing infantry, then as the remainders moved forward they were devastated by Union fire.  Half of Pickett’s men were either dead or wounded when they retreated back to their original lines. Lee ordered Pickett to reform his division, he replied “General, I have no division.”

Lee retreated back to Virginia in a wagon train 20 miles long. He was never to invade Union territory again.  While the war lasted almost another two years Lee had suffered his first defeat.  His army of northern Virginia was dealt a terrible blow and never again was the same undefeated force it was.

Again, I enjoyed reading about the battle in the Farmingdale Observer. It is quite sad that many Americans have no idea about the American Civil War and those first three days of July 1863.

“The government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Bill Hartenstine