American Military History Through Stamps (1775-1913)

The Battle of Gettysburg

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The 5-cent Battle of Gettysburg stamp was issued July 1, 1963, on the 100th anniversary of the start of the Battle of Gettysburg.

More men fought and died in the Battle of Gettysburg from July 1-3, 1863, than in any other battle ever fought in the United States. Confederate General Robert E. Lee did not want to sit and wait for the next Union attack, so he decided to go on the offensive and draw the main scene of the war out of Virginia and further north, into Pennsylvania. After the battle, about 28,000 of the 75,000 participating Confederate soldiers and 23,000 of the 88,000 participating Union soldiers were dead, wounded, or missing. General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia had never been stronger in manpower and morale than it was preceding the Battle of Gettysburg. However, the Union victory dramatically swung the morale-boost in favor of the previously discouraged Union side.

The 5-cent Battle of Gettysburg stamp in blue, gray, and black was designed by Roy Gjertson. A Confederate soldier on the left and a Union soldier on the right are locked in hand-to-hand to combat. After the stamp’s release, however, the Post Office Department received some complaints that the stamp celebrated the vilest aspects of the battle.