Gettysburg in 1863

It was a strange decree of fate which settled upon the town of Gettysburg on the morning of July 1, 1863. This peaceful, quiet country village was to become the scene during the Civil War of one of the world's most desperately fought battles. Stranger still was the fact that the Confederate Army led by General Robert E. Lee was approaching this small Pennsylvania town from the north while the Union Army was coming from the south. As neither one knew of the other's position, these two armies were to meet quite by accident at Gettysburg. What happened there is now history.
The site of Gettysburg was originally settled by thrifty German colonists in 1779. Just three years following the American Declaration of Independence. The town was founded by James Getty in 1780, became the county seat of Adams County in 1800, and was incorporated in 1807. It started out with a handful of residents in a few scattered cottages, but boasted of fifteen hundred inhabitants at the time of the famous battle. Most of the town's brick buildings were nestled between Seminary Ridge on the northwest and Cemetery Ridge and Gulp's Hill on the southeast. For three days the great armies of the North and South were locked in a struggle for survival on these ridges above the town of Gettysburg. Finally on July 4th with the failure of Piekett's Charge, the battle was over and the Union was saved. Lee retreated, leaving behind him a scene of terrible devastation. Over 51,000 human bodies and 5,000 dead horses lay on the battlefield. It was for the town's citizens to bury the dead and care for the remaining wounded from both sides. It is difficult to image the hardships the townspeople endured as the fighting raged around them and the anguish they suffered after both armies retreated in 1863.
Dwight D. Eisenhower retired to Gettysburg after his presidency. He bought a small farm not far from town because the view of South Mountain in the distance reminded Mamie Eisenhower of her childhood home in Colorado. Ike made the following statement, "History is far more than the excitement of battle, the flags and guns and desperate assaults. In a place like Gettysburg, the visitor may easily become absorbed in the three days of conflict, forgetting that history was also made here in quiet lives, on farm and village street, through a century before the battle, through the century after it."