United States citizens celebrated Independence Day on Thursday (4 July) in a series of observances held all over the world.
United States citizens celebrated Independence Day on Thursday (4 July) in a series of observances held all over the world.One of the most ambitious observances took place the day before, when the decisive Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (100 miles north of Washington in the American north), was re-enacted on its one hundredth anniversary.
The Battle lasted for three days (1-3 July, 1863), with the northern forced occupying defensive positions on a fish-hook shaped ridge south of Gettysburg and the southerners mounting constant attacks.On the third day, General Robert E.Lee, commanding the southerners ordered a charge against the central northern position to be carried out by Major General George Pickett's division.The charge was bloodily repulsed, and Lee retreated back into the south.Pickett's charge was the turning point of the battle -- and is considered by some historians to be the turning point of the war.It is the point at which the southern wave broke; the first major victory by the northern forces; and the farthest north that the southern armies penetrated.
The re-enactment took place on the Gettysburg battlefield, which has been preserved as a national monument.Five hundred mock southern soldiers marched across the ground where Pickett charged and met five hundred Yankees drawn up behind small stone wall by three chestnut oaks, the point at which Pickett's charge was aimed.Some was released to give battlefield atmosphere, and battle sounds were played over loudspeakers.When the two groups met, they sang the Star Spangled Banner as a symbol of United States unity.
There were thousands of spectators enjoying the pleasant summer weather.Four were overcome by heat, one 14-year-old boy in southern uniform fell off his horse -- and one youth suffered a broken leg when he fell from a monument.The re-enactment marked the high point of three days of observances at the battlefield site.
The State of Pennsylvania paid $128,000 for the ceremonies Pennsylvania legislators, asked to appropriate the funds, argued that there-enactment was costing more than the original battle.