Battle of Gettysburg Lesson for Kids: Summary & Facts

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  • 0:05 The Northern Invasion
  • 0:52 The Battle of Gettysburg
  • 2:49 Gettysburg's Aftermath
  • 3:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Crystal Ladwig
Can you imagine a single battle so severe that more than 50,000 men would be killed, wounded, or lost in just that one battle? That's what happened at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1863. Continue on to find out why this battle was so important.

The Northern Invasion

Robert E. Lee was the top Confederate (Southern) general during the Civil War. In the summer of 1863, he led the Confederate army into Union (Northern) territory. Lee needed supplies he couldn't get easily. He also wanted to get food from the North and take the fight out of the South so farm lands wouldn't be destroyed by battles. Lee thought that a win in the North would force France and Britain to recognize the Confederacy as a new, independent nation. Finally, an attack in the north would force the Union to move troops away from Vicksburg, where Confederates were fighting another tough battle. When they entered the North, the Confederates did get the supplies they needed, but they also faced one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War: the Battle of Gettysburg.

The Battle of Gettysburg

As Confederate troops traveled north, they were met by the Union army, eager to defend their territory. The Confederate army was led by General Lee, while the Union army was led by General George Meade. These experienced soldiers recognized the importance of the battle and how it could bring an end to the war. Their armies met in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in July 1863.

Now, let's take a look at each day of the battle itself.

July 1, 1863

The first day of the battle was won by the Confederates. There were more Confederate soldiers than Union soldiers. The attack was fierce and the Union army retreated (or pulled back). General Lee wanted to continue attacking, but there were costly delays. By the time the Confederate army was ready to attack again, the Union troops had received reinforcements (more soldiers) and set up their defense.

Gettysburg battlefield

If you want to be struck by the reality of this first day, check out this photo before moving on. This is an actual photo taken of the Gettysburg battlefield after the first day of the battle.

July 2, 1863

By the second day of battle, many more Union soldiers had arrived. There were now 94,000 Union soldiers and 72,000 Confederate soldiers all fighting this one battle. Fighting was fierce and bloody. Many men died that day, but the Union army was able to hold their position.

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