Bill Baxter's Award Winning Speech on The Battle of Gettysburg won
the Best Speaker Trophy and the Spark Plug Award in Toastmasters Club 873-F on June 22, 2004.
After the outbreak of the Civil War in the Early 1860's, General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate
Army pretty much had contol of The Eastern Campaign. The he obtained with major victories at 1st and 2nd Bull Run, Fredericksburg,
and their greatest victory was the sneak attack at Chancellorsville, even though that battle costed General Lee his best right
hand General--namely Stonewall Jackson. General Ulysses S. Grant and the Union Army, on the other hand, dominated the Western
Campaign, which they sealed after they bomeberd the bajeebers out of Vicksburg, MS; for a few days. Now as you know, Grant
was not our greatest president, as his administration followed similar patterns to that of Richard Nixon, and Warren Harding,
with corruption in the ranks. But, I have to say, he was the best Army General in the History of America, which he demonstrated
with his millitary tactics during the Western Campaign, and throughout the entire Civil War. With Grant in control of the
West, and Lee in control of the East, now came time for The Show Down--The battle that would decide the fate of The Civil
War. Which Side was going to win--The Union or The Confederacy? The Battle would be between the Union Army under General George
Meade, and the Confederate Army under General Robert E. Lee. The place of the battle was in a place somewhere in Pennsylvania--
A Place Called Gettysburg.
Fellow Toastmasters, and Honored Guests....
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The Battle of Gettysburg lasted for about three days. On one side of the battlefield
was a ridge overlooking the battlefield, which is where General George Meade and his Army encamped, and the set up their Artillery
at the center of the ridge. On the other side of the battlefield was a forest of trees, where General Lee and his Army encamped.
Nothing went on in the way of fighting, during the first day of battle, except firing cannons at each other, to slow down
each others' efforts. Things didn't heat up until the 2nd day of battle. During the 2nd day of battle, General Meade had his
Union Army Flanked out in a line, all along the ridge overlooking the battlefield. Lee had accessed this, and under his orders,
Gen. James Longstreet, who had replaced Stonewall Jackson, as Lee's Right Hand General, commanded an Army of Confederate Soldiers
to make repeated assaults on the far left flank of Meade's Army, in attempts to eaken it, so the Confederate Troops could
move around and behind Meade's Army. The far left flank was located in a place called Little Round Top. The men in the far
left flank were under command of Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Chamberlain's orders from Gen. Meade, were, he and his
men were not to budge from that spot, no matter how hot the batle got, no matter how low on men they got, no matter how low
an ammunition they got, they were to stand pat, or face court martial later on. If Chamberlain's Men had retreated at any
time, the Confederate Troops could have easily moved around and behind Meade's Army, boxing them in. If that had happened,
we'd all be clogging our arteries on grits and gravy, and whistling "Dixie" on Monday Night Football. But, Chamberlain and
his men obeyed Meade's Orders, and bravely stood their ground. The Confederate Soldiers made several assualts on the far left
flank, but couldn't get by Chamberlain and his men. Finally, the Conferate had only one charge left in them. By that time
Chamberlain's men were out of Ammunition. As Lee's men made one last attempt, Chamberlain's men swept them down the hill with
their bayonets, and defeated them. So ended the second day of battle, but Lee was not ready to give up yet. There was to much
* * * * *
On the third day of battle, Lee devised a new strategy. Under his orders, General Longstreet
commanded the Confederate Artillery Team to move the cannons up and bombard the center of the ridge, until they ran out of
cannonballs. The objective here was to eliminate as many Union Cannons and Soldiers of the center of the ridge as possible,
thus creating a gap in the middle of Meade's Flanked Army, so the Confederate Troops could charge up the middle, through the
gap, and around and behind Meade's Army from both sides. Leading the charge was a Brigade under command of Gen. George Pickett.
Following Pickett's Brigade was another Brigade of Virginia Soldiers under the Command of Brigadeer General Lewis Armistad.
The one thing Armistad had in common with Gen. Lee, was his strong love and devotion to The State of Virginia, which is pretty
much the sole reason why these two Generals took up Arms with The Confederacy. The Confederate Artillery Team didn't take
as many Union Cannons and Soldiers of the center of the ridge, as Gen. Longstreet had hope for, but Pickett's Charge was carried
out nevertheless, and the results were disasterous! Gen. Pickett's Division was blown off the face of the Earth completely,
except for Gen. Pickett, who hung back with Lee and Longstreet. Gen. Armistad's Division sffered very heavy losses, including
Armistad himself, who was motally wounded during Pickett's Charge. And so, the Battle of Gettysburg was over, and the Victory
at Gettysburg, and the fate of The Civil War belonged to the Union.
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In the aftermath of The Battle of Gettysburg, President Abraham Lincoln paid a visit
to the battlefield, and gave his shortest, but one of the most famous speeches in American History--The Gettysburg Address.
Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery and valor at Little Round Top,
during the 2nd day of battle. He later obtained the Rank of Major General, and later became Governor of Maine. As for the
Confederacy, they were broken, and never regained momentum again for the remainder of The Civil War. Infact, they just kept
falling apart more and more, until finally Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant, and America once again became, THE UNITED
STATES OF AMERICA.