The 5 Most Important Battles That Shaped Modern America And Europe

Published April 10, 2017
Updated November 7, 2023

Battle of Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863

Battle Gettysburg

Wikimedia Commons“Hancock at Gettysburg” by Thure de Thulstrup

The three-day battle of Gettysburg was the turning point in the American Civil War.

After two years of fighting conducted mostly in the South, Confederate general Robert E. Lee decided to take the war to the North. And so, after weeks of maneuvering and skirmishes, the Northern forces, led by George Meade, met the Southern forces in the hills of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Robert Lee

Wikimedia CommonsGen. Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army

The armies engaged in a standoff for two days on the battlefield before Lee decided to fully assault the North’s line by charging with his troops. The result was the infamous slaughter known as Pickett’s Charge. Though both sides suffered heavy losses, the South struggled the most to recover.

Lincoln At Gettysburg

Wikimedia CommonsCrowd of citizens and soldiers with Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg just before delivering the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. (The red arrow points to Lincoln.)

The war continued for two years, but the setback at Gettysburg kept the Southern forces on the defensive and entrenched in their own territory, leading to their eventual defeat.

Alexander is a Brooklyn-based cofounder of All That's Interesting with an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in History and Economics and an MSc from the School of Oriental and African Studies in Economics. He specializes in American history, the Cold War, and true crime.