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The Maundy Monday Newsletter - This Week in History June 26 - July 2.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee was determined to take the fight to the North. By 1863, most of the Civil War had been fought in war-weary in Virginia, and Lee had grand plans to change the dynamic after a few victories.
By heading North, Lee hoped to draw Union troops away from the Mississippi River while, at the same time, convincing Northern politicians who were also war-weary to push for peace and, therefore, give Lee’s Confederate States of America their independence.
Having won the Battle of Chancellorsville, Lee’s confidence sent him toward Pennsylvania through Maryland. When his troops reached the town of Gettysburg, they encountered what they thought was a small militia. Instead, it was the Army of the Potomac, led by Major General George Meade, who was promoted just a few days earlier after Major General John Hooker was defeated at Chancellorsville back in May.
Escalation came quickly; the Battle of Gettysburg was fought over three days, July 1-3, 1863.
Day One saw the Confederates seize control of the town while Union troops built their defense line in the south. Reinforcements arrived for both sizes, which meant this would not be over swiftly.
Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia relentlessly attacked Meade on Day Two, trying to wrest control of the Union's various strategic positions. The Confederates fell back around 7:30 p.m. on July 2 and waited for the next day.
In the late afternoon of the final day of battle, 12,000 Confederate troops marched toward Cemetery Ridge to attack the Union’s line, which remained strong because the rebel’s cannons had overshot their mark. Picket’s Charge would see over half of his men killed in the open field while Lee watched in the distance.
Rain began to fall as Lee waited for Meade to counterattack. He never did, so the Confederates slipped back to Virginia, ending their only attempt to take the fight to the north.
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Okay, let's highlight what else happened this week. Here's what I got:
1. President Kenney delivered his Ich bin ein Berliner speech on June 26, 1963. Bobby’s Brother wrote a few notes before announcing himself aligned with the people of Berlin. Kennedy has three speeches in the top 100 speeches, which I wrote about one given by Lincoln, who has two. My Lord and Savior has one.
2. James Thurman, Sr. died at 100 on June 26, 2003. My Lord and Savior finally put off taking in the former South Carolina statesman, affectionately known as Strom. He served as governor, House representative, presidential nominee, and the fourth longest-serving senator in history. Oh, he also spent most of his life protesting civil rights.
3. Federal Income Tax Withholding began on July 1, 1943. The Current Tax Payment Act, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, allowed the government to withhold federal income tax from workers so they never had to worry about it. There’s a yet-to-be-ranked Constitutional Amendment regarding Income Tax. That will be as fun to write as Jesus meeting Strom in 2003.
If you haven’t been to Gettysburg, I can’t recommend it enough. Anonymous and I went in 2021, my first time in many years, and there is so much history to take in; it’s impossible to do with just one trip for a few hours.
I could totally nerd out for a long weekend. I’d like to get a tour guide who would personally take me around the entire area to understand better what occurred over 160 years ago.
Have you been to Gettysburg? If so, what are some of the memorable moments? The gravestones marked only with numbers are something that stays with me today.
I mentioned on Friday that I would have an announcement, but I’m holding off on that until later.
I hope you have a great week!