The Battle of Gettysburg began on July 1, 1863 – exactly150 years ago this week – and after the course of three days wound up as one of the bloodiest battles of the expensive, tragic and significant four-year-long Civil War.
The battle in the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, represented a sign of hope for the Union – and a crucial turning point toward completion of “the unfinished work which they who fought [there] so nobly advanced,” as historian James M. McPherson recounts in the new book Gettysburg: Turning Point of the Civil War.
The Civil War stands as one of the nation’s earliest major fiscal tests: In 1860 the national debt was $65 million – and by 1865 that debt stood at $2.7 billion.
This holiday week, as we recall the anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg and celebrate Independence Day as well, here is a look at some of the numbers that comprise this critical event in our nation’s history:
Total estimated cost of the Civil War in today’s dollars ($4.2 billion then).
Number of individuals who died in the war.
Combined Union and Confederate forces who fought in the Battle of Gettysburg.
Number of Union forces at the Battle of Gettysburg.
Number of Confederate forces at Gettysburg.
Salary per month of white Union soldiers during the war.
Salary per month of black Union soldiers during the war. (These salaries were later amended by Congress.)
Total estimated casualties at Gettysburg (over 31,000 Union losses and over 27,000 Confederate losses). Gettysburg residents were left to care for the wounded and bury the dead after the Confederates retreated. Ultimately the soldiers’ bodies were reinterred in what is today known as Gettysburg National Cemetery.
Population of the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, at the time of battle. The town had three newspapers, two institutes of higher learning, several churches and banks – and ten roads leading to its center, all used by the armies.
Population of the town today.
Amount in taxes (federal, state and local) that visitors to Gettysburg contribute annually.
Number of annual visitors to historic Gettysburg (tourism is the largest industry in Adams County, PA).
Number of visitors to Gettysburg expected for this week’s celebratory events alone.
Number of Civil War re-enactors (including 300 from other countries) who are participating in anniversary events at Gettysburg.
Number of people employed by the tourism industry in Adams County, PA.
Gettysburg’s rank in the list of bloodiest battles of the Civil War, out of a total of 50 major battles and 50,000 minor skirmishes fought over a three-year period.
Number of generals from both sides who were present during the battle. Nine were killed or mortally wounded.
Number of Medals of Honor awarded to soldiers who fought at Gettysburg.
Cost per body of reburial on the 17 acres that were purchased by attorney David Wills in October 1863.
Number of monuments, markers and tablets at Gettysburg today.
Age of the oldest soldier, John L. Burns, who volunteered to fight in the Civil War on behalf of the Union. Burns was a veteran of the War of 1812.
Number of preserved acres of land where the Battle of Gettysburg took place. According to the Civil War Trust, there are112 acres still in need of saving. The trust has collected $250,000 in donations so far for that preservation.
“Four score and seven years ago . . .” The beginning of President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, one of the best known speeches in American history. The text is carved into a stone cella on the south wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and mentioned in countless works of American pop culture. “Four score and seven years ago” was a reference, of course, to 87 years earlier – or 1776, the date of the Declaration of Independence. Most spectators at the time did not think the Gettysburg Address was all that captivating: The London Times wrote, “The ceremony was rendered ludicrous by some of the sallies of that poor President Lincoln. Anything more dull and commonplace it would not be easy to produce.”
Number of words that make up the Gettysburg Address.
Number of known manuscripts that contain Lincoln’s handwritten Gettysburg Address, each differing in its details. Two of these copies are preserved in the Library of Congress.
Number of minutes it took for Lincoln to speak his Gettysburg Address.
Sources: Gettysburg: Turning Point of the Civil War (Time Books); Gettysburg Foundation; Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau; civilwar.org; fee.org; historical.whatitcosts.com; Wikipedia.