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The Union Army of the Potomac, long the nemesis of Lee's army in Virginia, met the Confederate invasion at the Pennsylvania crossroads town of Gettysburg in 1863. Under the command of Major General George Gordon Meade, the Union army fought with a desperation not always seen before on other battlefields. The town was enveloped by war and despite initial Confederate success, the battle turned against Lee on July 3rd, and with few options remaining to him, the general ordered his army back to Virginia. The Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg resulted not only in Lee's retreat to Virginia but an end to the hopes of the Confederacy for independence.
Gettysburg invokes memories of some of the most poignant moments in American military history, and also echos with the names of unforgettable landmarks like The "Devil's Den", the "High Water Mark", and "Little Round Top" to name a few. Aside from the battle itself, Gettysburg is probably known best as the primary source of inspiration for one of the greatest speeches ever given by Abraham Lincoln.
One of the lingering questions to this day about the Battle of Gettysburg is what if General Lee's trusting cavalry commander J.E.B. Stuart had arrived on time prior to this definitive engagement. Would it have made a difference? Some scholars think so. One of the events that made Stuart late on his ride to Gettysburg is his engagement with Union troops in Fairfax County.