Around a small hamlet in southern Pennsylvania, Robert E. Lee’s vaunted Army of Northern Virginia was stymied and driven back after three days, July 1st through the 3rd, of bloodletting at the Battle of Gettysburg.
A turning point in the Civil War in retrospect.
On July 4, 1863, the Confederate bastion of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the “Gibraltar of the Mississippi River” capitulated to Union forces under General Ulysses S. Grant.
A turning point in the Civil War in hindsight.
The evacuation of Tullahoma on the first day of July and the surrender of the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River at Port Hudson, Louisiana on July 9, 1863, are two other significant actions in July.
Both can be considered turning points when studied through the lens of history.
Yet, there was a much more significant engagement, this time a Union defeat, that also turned the tide of the American Civil War. This assault took place on July 18, 1863 on Battery Wagner, part of the defenses of Charleston, South Carolina. In the waning moments of daylight, the 54th Massachusetts charged determinedly toward the sandy approaches and abates that was Battery Wagner. Their assault failed with the loss of their commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. In this example though, the heroism of the charge, the courage that these soldiers portrayed, and what their actions meant advanced the Union war effort.