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Firearm History: Gettysburg 

July 1st marks the 151st anniversary of the three-day-long Battle of Gettysburg, often considered the turning point of the Civil War. With General Robert E Lee’s army in high spirits in the wake of an astounding victory over the Union at Chancellorsville, Lee hoped moving North to face the Union would take pressure off Virginia’s war ravaged farms during their growing season and pressure President Lincoln’s administration to come to a settlement involving the war.
The opening battle on July 1, 1863 was a much larger encounter than is generally depicted, ranking as the 12th bloodiest battle of the Civil War with ultimately 30,000 Confederates defeating 20,000 Yankees, resulting in roughly 15,500 casualties. The second day of battle was the largest and costliest of the three days involving more than 100,000 soldiers with a casualty count of about 20,000. The Confederates gained ground attacking the left and right flanks of the Union blockade, but at the end of the day the Union defenders remained in strong position. By the third day, the confederates had moved their attack to the center of the Union defense; their charge upon the line was met by Union rifle and artillery fire, resulting in great losses to the Confederacy and a torturous retreat of Lee’s army back to Virginia. 
What firearms were used at the Battle of Gettysburg? The opposing armies used a variety of weapons at the Battle of Gettysburg including bayonets, revolvers, and the primary infantry weapon: the single-shot, muzzle-loading, rifled musket. Federal cavalry were equipped with Sharps and Burnside single-shot carbines, and a small number of Spencer repeating rifles were used as well. The two armies also used artillery, such as rifled and smoothbore cannons, with solid shot, hollow shells, and canister rounds as ammunition. The firearms and artillery used at Gettysburg are considered to have greatly influenced the tactics employed on the battlefield, altering infantry formations and combat style.