Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2013

Department 1

Civil War Era Studies

Department 2



The president of the United States had been more than usually agitated ever since the news of a major collision of the Union and Confederate armies around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, first flew along the telegraph wires to the War Department on July 1, 1863. For days, he was clouded with “sadness and despondency” until the message arrived, announcing a great victory for the Union. That was followed almost at once by news from Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles: another dispatch had come in, “communicating the fall of Vicksburg [Mississippi] on the fourth of July.” At once, Abraham Lincoln’s mood changed, and he was “beaming with joy.” That night, the war-swollen population of Washington City joined in reveling over the twin victories. “The news immediately spread throughout the city, creating intense and joyous excitement,” and “[f]lags were displayed from all the Departments, and crowds assembled with cheers.” A large throng marched up Pennsylvania Avenue with the U.S. Marine Band at their head, milling in front of the White House and calling on the president for a speech. [excerpt]


This essay is adapted from Dr. Allen Guelzo's 2013 book, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion.

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