By Richard D. Land
As Americans prepare to celebrate Independence Day, July 4th, it is important that we reflect on the tremendous sacrifices that hundreds of thousands of Americans have paid to secure and protect the freedoms declared as our God-given right by our forefathers on the first July 4 in 1776.
As we approach this Fourth of July, we also commemorate the 150th anniversary of the greatest blood sacrifice on the altar of freedom that ever took place on American soil, the battle of Gettysburg. For three days, July 1-3, 1863, the Army in Northern Virginia (70,000 men) and the Army of the Potomac (94,000 men) collided in a three-day struggle that haunts and captivates us to this day. These three days of desperate combat resulted in 46,000 estimated causalities, killed, wounded, and missing – all of them Americans, North and South.
The nation’s fate was hanging in the balance. If Lee had won at Gettysburg it is extremely doubtful that Lincoln would have been re-elected and the Union would have survived.
Such a terrible loss of life characterized America’s Civil War battles. In many ways it was the first “modern” war with far more lethal weapons than those used in previous wars. The unprecedented and unexpected losses traumatized the mothers, fathers, spouses, children, relatives, and neighbors of these dead and maimed men.