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John A Nilsen

 

 

Evergreen Cemetery, on Cemetery Ridge, where the overwhelmed Union army retreated to on the first of the three days of hell known as the battle of Gettysburg. Peaceful and beautiful now, it's hard to imagine the carnage that hill saw on the 3rd day of July, 1863. Having tried the Union left and right flanks the day before, Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to make an all out assault on the Union center, where the cemetery lies. After a horrendous cannonade some 12,000 Confederate troops marched in perfect ranks towards the Union army which was waiting behind a stone wall along Cemetery Ridge. The Confederates, marching pretty much out in the open, were mowed downed en masse by a combination of Union artillery and musketry. Only a few hundred reached the stone wall and every Confederate who breached Union lines was either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. Thousands lay dead and wounded on the Pennsylvania farm fields, and on July 5th, in the rain, Lee retreated back to Virginia. Evergreen Cemetery, which is adjoined by the National Cemetery dedicated by Abraham Lincoln, is also the final resting place of Jennie Wade...the only civilian killed in the battle while she was baking bread for the Union troops in her sister's home.

 

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