From left, Scott Nienberg, Tom Nienberg, Doug Nienberg, and Kurt Nienberg in Gettysburg, Penn. for the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg reenactment.
I attribute my knowledge on the Battle of Gettysburg to my history teacher, Mr. Hotmire and the notes he made me and my classmates take in American History. All details in this article were checked for accuracy using "Gettysburg: The Last Invasion," by Allen C. Guelzo.
By Alex Woodring
GETTYSBURG - The battle that most historians describe as the turning point in the American Civil War took place 150 years ago in a small Pennsylvania town. However, four young men from the Village of Glandorf found themselves in the War Between the States.
Three brothers and a cousin made the pilgrimage from Glandorf to Gettysburg to take place in the Gettysburg 150th Anniversary Reenactment.
"We belong to the 14th Ohio Volunteer Infantry unit, which is comprised of members from northwest Ohio," said Scott Nienberg.
Though Scott, Tom, Doug and Kurt Nienberg find themselves in the year 2013, for a brief three days, they were fighting in Battle of Gettysburg.
During the actual July 1-3 1863 battle, the once United States of America saw itself on the cusp of two very different paths of either a divided or unified nation.
Days leading into the battle saw Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee confident in his men's abilities to march north. Couple Lee's confidence and the southern state's realization that ravaged supplies could not outlast a well-stocked northern army in a prolonged conflict, Lee knew his next move would be an invasion of Pennsylvania.
As the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac rapidly approach each other, the Union outnumbered southern troops by about 20,000 men.
Early June 30, Union Calvary Gen. John Buford spotted troops as they made their way to Gettysburg for supplies. Early that next day the battle begins as confederates advance on McPherson's Ridge. The ridges were defended by Buford who found himself vastly outnumbered at the time. He was eventually reinforced by two corps of infantry.
However, late in the afternoon Confederates consolidate and focused on the northwestern section of the town and attacked Buford and his reinforcements. This lead to collapsing Union lines that forced the Union to abscond their position and reform their lines more south on Cemetery Hill.The carnage continued the next day on July 2 with a Union army in a stout position. The Union held a strong high ground that troubled many of Lee's advisers. Despite warnings to seek better ground Lee pushed the Confederate army forward to attack. The heavy assault railed against the Union's line to no avail.
Many historians attribute the Union's hold of their right flank to Col. Joshua Chamberlain of the 20th Maine and his ability to take deserters and re-turn their coats.
Approximately 120 Maine soldiers from another unit were charged with desertion and imposed onto Chamberlain's command. Chamberlain convinced nearly all of the men to fight under his command which bolstered the Union's right flank. The formerly discontented and duty-less soldiers helped deflect the onslaught of southern soldiers' attack on the Union line.
At the end of the second day the Union successfully held their lines.
The third and final bloody day of battle boiled down to Pickett's Charge.
The Charge was a direct order from Lee himself to "attack the enemy where he is." Lee ordered the Northern Virginia Army to charge onto Cemetery Ridge.
The charge was lead partially under the command of Maj. Gen. George Picket though the charge's top commander was Lt. Gen. James Longstreet.
Gen. Meade foresaw that Lee would follow the same tactics as the previous two days of battle and attack the middle line. Lee indeed did assault the middle line that was a follow up to an artillery bombing in hopes to unstiffen the staunch Union line. Though considered a good strategy the move did little to soften the lines.
Upon the Confederate's charge the Union responded with heavy artillery. The charge proved to be fruitless with the Confederates losing half of their men while barely breaching the Union's frontal defenses.
The lose proved too great for the south and effectively ended the bloodiest three days in American history.
Lee's decision to charge has become one of history's great "what ifs." Historians banter on the varying outcomes that could have taken place had Lee had less confidence in his men and regrouped and sought better ground.
Though the Union's victory at Gettysburg took place just under two years before the Civil War came to an end, the war never looked the same. The victory at Gettysburg all but decimated the spirits of the South and turned the favor of the war to the Union.
The turning of the war is considered by some historians as the second most important moment in American history after the "the shot 'heard around the world."
150 years later the significance is not lost on the Neinbergs who "helped" defeat the confederate army during the Battle of Gettysburg July 1-3, 2013.