The Battle of Gettysburg, 150 Years Later

Monday, July 01, 2013

When Union and Confederate soldiers clashed at the Battle of Gettysburg, 150 years ago today, The Saturday Evening Post sent reporters to cover the fighting. Today, the Post is one of the few remaining publications that covered the Civil War, as the magazine began printing in 1821.

It is because of that legacy that Jeff Nilsson, director of archives for The Saturday Evening Post, is steeped in Civil War history, particularly the history of Gettysburg. The battle still stands as the bloodiest in American history, because at the time, Nilsson explains, "Robert E. Lee did not believe he could militarily conquer the North."

"He believed he could discourage the North out of the war," Nilsson continues. "He had beat the Union Army repeatedly, and now was coming north to, he hoped, beat it decisively on the plains of south-central Pennsylvania."

Nilsson describes the lives of Union and Confederate soldiers and reflects on Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, given just a few short months after the battle. 

"The Gettysburg Address was the commemoration of a cemetery that was built in the town because thousands and thousands of casualties still littered the field far beyond the capability of any townspeople to bury them." 

The town required a cemetery, but, Nilsson says, the commemoration was "a way for Lincoln to memorialize these deaths and also the general cause and to explain to Americans why they had fought and what sense it made for this great slaughter of men."


Jeff Nilsson

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Arwa Gunja and Jillian Weinberger

Comments [3]

Bill Seery

Zwillich explains it. You see it was a posthumous speech that Lincoln decided to give there a couple of years later

Jul. 03 2013 11:52 PM
LeRoy Votto

I echo the astute comment by Geoff Caldwell above. The Gettysburg Address was not "a couple pf years later." The Address was delivered on 19 November 1863 -- and the Gettysburg battle was 1. 2, 3 July 1863.

Jul. 03 2013 12:27 AM
Geoff Caldwell from Joplin, MO

I cannot believe I heard not once but twice and possibly a third time Zwillich reference that Lincoln gave the Gettysburg address "two years" later! One of the most important battles in American history along with Yorktown and D-Day and the interviewer doesn't even know the year that Lincoln gave one of the most famous Presidential speeches in American history dedicating it? No excuse.

Jul. 01 2013 07:06 PM

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