Decision 4 of 4
Result: Decisive Union Victory
All of your decisions have repeated the actual course of events that transpired 144 years ago . . .
On the afternoon of July 3rd, a thunderous artillery barrage opened fire on the Union center. Northern guns returned the fire with solid effect, but were then ordered to cease their fire after an hour and a half to convince the rebels that the artillery preparation had been successful.
Over ten thousand soldiers of Pickett's division and brigades from the Confederate III Corps surged forward towards Cemetery Ridge. The Union commander, General George Meade, actually believed the final assault would again fall on his left flank and placed his reserves there. However, the relatively small size of the Confederate attack, the exposed terrain, and the ferocity of the Union defense doomed the attack. (Continued below map)
What became known as "Pickett's Charge" ended in failure. After it breached the Union lines on Cemetery Ridge for just a moment, counterattacks sent the assaulting troops reeling back to their starting positions. Both sides suffered over twenty thousand killed, wounded, or captured each during the terrible three days -- nearly a quarter of their respective army's strengths.
The battle was over. By not winning a decisive victory, the South had lost perhaps its last, best chance, to end the war on its terms. The next day, on July 4th, the rebels retreated south towards Virginia. They would never again invade the North.