Gettysburg National Military Park is now the midst of the commemoration of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg. It has been a 150 years since, as I pointed out in my book, the Army of the Potomac, commanded by General George Meade, met the invading force of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was in this small town in southern Pennsylvania where some 165,000 men fought in the largest battle in North American history. It was the high water mark of the Confederacy’s military campaign and after, “three days of battle, with some seven million bullets fired, Lee was defeated and never had the military strength to engage in another large scale offensive. After this setback, the Confederacy was generally in retreat. It was at the ceremony to dedicate a cemetery on the battlefield at Gettysburg that President Lincoln read his famous Gettysburg address.”
While doing research, I, by the way, had the opportunity in Springfield, Illinois, at the museum there, associated to what was called the Lincoln legal papers, to hold one genuine copy of the address in my hands. The curator took me on a tour and then took the copy out their safe, between glass, and I was able to hold it and look at it. There is four copies in existence, written by Lincoln and they are worth millions of dollars each, I understand.
Charles Chiniquy visited the White House after this battle and talked with President Lincoln about it. As I stated in my book:
On the subject of the Civil War, while recognizing the patriotism and bravery of some Catholic soldiers, Lincoln told Chiniquy that many had deserted, according to Fifty Years. The President also stated that while the Catholic general, George Meade, won the battle of Gettysburg, he really couldn’t have lost it with all the brave officers and soldiers surrounding him. According to Chiniquy, Lincoln added that Meade’s “Romanism superseded his patriotism after the battle. He let the army of Lee escape, when it was so easy to cut his retreat and force him to surrender.” Fifteen Historical accounts show that after the defeat of Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg, Meade made little effort to pursue the Confederates and they escaped almost completely, much to President Lincoln’s thorough disgust.
I have visited Gettysburg, in 2001, and found it to be a very pleasant town, steeped in history, and yet the battle ground is considered sacred and no re-enactments occur on location because of all the soldiers that fell there.