Undaunted by his failure at Antietam, Lee marched into Northern territory again in the summer of 1863, this time into Pennsylvania. There, he met Union forces at the Battle of Gettysburg in early July. At the end of a bloody three-day struggle in which more than 50,000 died, Lee was once again forced to retreat. The battle was a resounding victory for the North and a catastrophe for the South.
At the same time Lee was losing in the North, Grant was besieging the city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, in the West. Eventually, the trapped Confederates caved in to Grant’s demand for an unconditional surrender. This major victory at the Battle of Vicksburg gave the Union control of the Mississippi River and thus split the Confederacy in half.
Lincoln commemorated the Union victory at Gettysburg several months after the battle with a speech at the dedication of a national cemetery on the site. Though very brief, the Gettysburg Address was poignant and eloquent. In the speech, Lincoln argued that the Civil War was a test not only for the Union but for the entire world, for it would determine whether a nation conceived in democracy could “long endure.”