Decision 4 of 4
Result: Significant Confederate Victory
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 after an hour and a half to convince the rebels that the artillery preparation had been successful. Little did they realize that it was a diversion.
Over fifteen thousand soldiers of Pickett's division and brigades from the Confederate I and III Corps surged toward the Union left flank, smashed into it, and sent it falling back beyond the Tenytown Road. The Union commander, General George Meade, had expected an attack from this direction and deployed his reserves into the fight.
The Confederate army was able to retain control of the Rock Creek Bridge on the Union right while pushing hard on the left. Fearing complete encirclement, the Union army rapidly began to evacuate its positions and withdrew headlong to the vicinity of Washington, D.C. (Continued below map)
Both sides suffered over twenty thousand killed, wounded, or captured each -- nearly a quarter of their respective army's strengths. In addition, the Union rearguard lost over 3,000 prisoners in the vicinity of Cemetery Hill as the trap fell partially closed.
The battle was over. The Army of the Potomac had suffered a major defeat but most of it would live to fight another day. The rebels rampaged throughout Pennsylvania over the next two months but could not force the North to capitulate. By winter, the campaign had moved back into Virginia with a new Union general in charge, Ulysses S Grant.