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In the iconic film Gone With the Wind (1939), Rhett Butler describes the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863) as the decisive battle that would determine the outcome of the U.S. Civil War. Rhett’s description exemplifies an understanding of the Battle of Gettysburg that has taken hold in popular memory. Gettysburg is commonly considered the critical turning point in the Civil War; the Union’s victory there indicated that it would ultimately triumph, while the Confederacy’s defeat foreshadowed its subsequent demise. The scale of the battle seemed to underscore its importance, as it was the single bloodiest battle of the Civil War. And nearly 5 months later, President Abraham Lincoln famously articulated the significance of its unprecedented carnage in his famous Gettysburg Address. Since then, the ...

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