Throwback ThursdayIt's #Throwback Thursday and today is a special day in history because, on July 3, 1863, Union forces defeated General Lee's army in the Battle of Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg followed the Battle of Chancellorsville, where General Lee was victorious against the northern army led by General Hooker. In the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee was hoping for another victory that would inspire France and Britain to join forces with the Confederates to help them defeat the north, but he failed.

Both Armies Converged on the Town of Gettysburg

General George Meade was ordered to replace General Hooker by President Lincoln on June 28. The battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, after a division of Lee's army entered the town of Gettysburg to commandeer supplies. In Gettysburg, Confederate forces were met by three Union cavalry brigades, which led to the armies of the north and south converging on the town. The Union cavalry successfully fended off Confederate forces until northern troops arrived.

The heaviest fighting at Gettysburg took place on July 2 with the total death toll reaching 35,000. On July 3, Lee tried to break through the Union centerline. First, he organized a column of 15,000 troops under the leadership of General George Pickett to stand at the ready. Then, he ordered a violent bombardment of artillery, cannon and gunfire, which raged for over an hour. After the onslaught of cannons, General Pickett tried to break through the northern lines, but failed when the Union responded with its artillery and infantry. By the time Picket's charge made it to the Union line, only several hundred southern troops remained -- all of whom were dead, dying or captured in no time.

Meade's Victory at Gettysburg Was a Turning Point in Civil War History

The northern and southern armies maintained their positions until July 4, when Lee decided to retreat. Southern forces left the North and never came back again. Historians recognize the Battle of Gettysburg as the most important battle of the civil war, when Union forces gained the advantage. Still, the Civil War did not officially come to an end until April 1865, when General Lee's Army finally surrendered.