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Editorial: July 4th is result of their sacrifice at Gettysburg, Vicksburg

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opinion Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

The Fourth of July is time to celebrate the birth of the United States 237 years ago and to reflect on the courage and challenge of maintaining the freedom of the American revolution.

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This year is historic as the Fourth of July represents the 150th anniversary of the end of the two major battles of the Civil War:

The Battle of Gettysburg — A Union victory in a small Pennsylvania town, which was the high-water mark of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee. The battle ended on July 3 and Lee began the withdrawal of his forces on July 4.

The Battle of Vicksburg - The surrender of Confederate forces within the city of Vicksburg on July 4. General Ulysses S. Grant’s Union victory at Vicksburg split the Confederacy and gained control of the Mississippi River.

Neither of these battles came cheaply, with Gettysburg resulting in more than 50,000 dead, wounded or missing and Vicksburg resulting in nearly 20,000 combined deaths, wounded or missing and nearly 30,000 Confederates surrendered

Lee’s defeat at Gettysburg and Grant’s victory at Vicksburg 150 years ago were the beginning of the end of the Civil War. The war would drag on for nearly two more years, but on July 4, 1863, the winds of war finally shifted to the Union favor.

Minnesota infantry regiments were at both Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

The Minnesota First Volunteer Infantry Regiment was at Gettysburg. On July 2, the regiment charged into a superior Confederate attack and despite a horrendous loss of life held the line long enough for a Union victory that day.

Minnesota’s Third, Fourth and Fifth Volunteer Infantry Regiments participated in the Vicksburg campaign, engaged in several battles and were at Vicksburg when the city surrendered.

So as you celebrate America’s birthday Thursday, take a minute to remember the sacrifice of those who served and died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Without their courage and service 150 years ago, the outcome of the Civil War and our history could have different.

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