6 July 1560

The Treaty of Edinburgh is signed by Scotland and England.

Treaty of Edinburgh

The Treaty of Edinburgh (also known as the Treaty of Leith) was a treaty drawn up on 5 July 1560 between the Commissioners of Queen Elizabeth I of England with the assent of the Scottish Lords of the Congregation, and the French representatives of King Francis II of France (husband of Mary Queen of Scots) to formally conclude the Siege of Leith and replace the Auld Alliance with France with a new Anglo-Scottish accord, while maintaining the peace between England and France agreed by the Treaty of Cateau-Cambresis.

French and English troops in Scotland

The rule of Mary of Guise in Scotland was supported by French troops. Scottish Protestants challenged her rule in the Reformation Crisis. During the ensuing Siege of Leith, French troops fortified the port and town of Leith against an English and Scottish Protestant force. The English army was invited into Scotland by the Treaty of Berwick made by the Lords of the Congregation. The treaty was concluded on 6 July 1560 just short of a month after the death of Mary of Guise. The fortifications at Leith, Inchkeith and Dunbar Castle were duly removed, and the French garrisons left Scotland.[1] Other conditions discussed involved the joint use of English and French heraldry by Mary, Queen of Scots.[2]

Remains of an artillery fort involved in the siege were found in 2006 in Edinburgh's Pilrig Park, and two gun emplacements can be seen on Leith Links.[3]

Terms of the treaty

Royal arms of Mary, Queen of Scots, France & England

The representatives were Jean de Monluc, Bishop of Valence, and Charles de la Rochefoucault, Sieur de Randan, for France, with William Cecil and Nicholas Wotton, Dean of Canterbury and York.[4] The French deputes were authorised to discuss the withdrawal of their troops with the Archbishop of St Andrews, John Bellenden of Auchnoul, and William Maitland as representatives of the Congregation. The French delegation was also permitted to meet and console the bereaved ladies-in-waiting of Mary of Guise's court.[5] The cessation of hostilities during the negotiation was marked by two cannon shots from Edinburgh Castle at 7 o'clock in the evening of Monday 17 June.[6]

It was agreed between France and England that all their land and naval forces would withdraw from Scotland. Mary and Francis II of France should not use the arms and signs of England and Ireland in their heraldry. Mary and Francis would fulfill the representations made by the nobility and people of Scotland on 6 July 1560.[7]


Royal arms of Mary, Queen of Scots & France (post-treaty).

The terms of this treaty are occasionally confused with the acts of the Reformation Parliament of 1560 which met in August, and sought to establish the Protestant church in Scotland. However the treaty was not ratified by Mary Stuart, the reigning Scottish monarch at the time, despite considerable pressure upon her to do so over the period until 1567. Even so, it had the intended effect of the withdrawal of French troops from Scotland at the time, and the eventual fall of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland.

Mary may not have wanted the Treaty to be ratified as she was heavily attached to France, having been its queen consort, and viewed the Lords of the Congregation as rebels against her mother Mary of Guise. She also did not ratify the treaty because it officially declared Elizabeth the monarch of England, a position Mary desired for herself.[8] The Gowrie Regime attempted to ratify the treaty in April 1583.

See also


  1. ^ CSP Scotland, vol. i (1898), 444
  2. ^ Discussed in June, see HMC Salisbury, Hatfield Manuscripts, vol. i (1883), 240.
  3. ^ Herald & Post (newspaper), Scotsman Publications Ltd., Edinburgh. 7 December 2006.
  4. ^ HMC Salisbury, Hatfield Manuscripts, vol. i (1883), 245-6.
  5. ^ Lodge, Edmund ed., Illustrations of British History, Biography and Manners, vol. 1, London (1791) 320-322, Copie of th'Articles, Cecil Papers.
  6. ^ Lodge (1791), 329-336, Cecil and Wotton to Elizabeth, 19 June 1560.
  7. ^ Donaldson, Gordon, A Source Book of Scottish History, vol. 2, Thomas Nelson, (1953), 171-172, from Foedera, vol. 15, 593-7.
  8. ^ Steel, Tom. Scotland's Story: A New Perspective London, Great Britain: William Collins Sons and Co. Ltd, 1984. Page 74

Further reading

5 July 1934

“Bloody Thursday”: Police open fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco.

1934 West Coast waterfront strike

1934 West Coast waterfront strike
Confrontation between a policeman wielding a night stick and a striker during the San Francisco General Strike, 1934 - NARA - 541926.jpg
  Confrontation between a policeman wielding a night    stick and a striker during the San Francisco General Strike, 1934.
DateMay 9, 1934 – July 31, 1934[1]
MethodsStrikes, Protest, Demonstrations
Parties to the civil conflict
Lead figures
Harry Bridges;
Paddy Morris;
Jack Bjorklund;
Joseph P. Ryan
Arrests, etc
Deaths: 9,
Arrests: >500.[2]

The 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike (also known as the 1934 West Coast Longshoremen's Strike, as well as a number of variations on these names) lasted eighty-three days, and began on May 9, 1934 when longshoremen in every US West Coast port walked out. The strike peaked with the death of two workers on "Bloody Thursday" and the San Francisco General Strike which stopped all work in the major port city for four days and led ultimately to the settlement of the West Coast Longshoremen's Strike.

The result of the strike was the unionization of all of the West Coast ports of the United States. The San Francisco General Strike of 1934, along with the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike of 1934 led by the American Workers Party and the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934 led by the Communist League of America, were important catalysts for the rise of industrial unionism in the 1930s, much of which was organized through the Congress of Industrial Organizations.[3]


Longshoremen on the West Coast ports had either been unorganized or represented by company unions since the years immediately after World War I, when the shipping companies and stevedoring firms had imposed the open shop after a series of failed strikes.[4] Longshoremen in San Francisco, then the major port on the coast, were required to go through a hiring hall operated by a company union, known as the "blue book" system for the color of the membership book.[5]

The Industrial Workers of the World had attempted to organize longshoremen, sailors and fishermen in the 1920s through their Marine Transport Workers Union.[6] Their largest strike, the 1923 San Pedro Maritime Strike, bottled up shipping in that harbor, but was crushed by a combination of injunctions, mass arrests and vigilantism by the American Legion. While the IWW was a spent force after that strike, syndicalist thinking remained popular on the docks.[7] Longshoremen and sailors on the West Coast also had contacts with an Australian syndicalist movement that called itself the "One Big Union" formed after the defeat of a general strike there in 1917.[8]

The Communist Party had also been active in the area in the late 1920s, seeking to organize all categories of maritime workers into a single union, the Maritime Workers Industrial Union (MWIU), as part of the drive during the Third Period to create revolutionary unions.[9][10] The MWIU never made much headway on the West Coast, but it did attract a number of former IWW members and foreign-born militants.[11] Harry Bridges, an Australian-born sailor who became a longshoreman after coming to the United States, would be accused over and over for his acknowledged Communist party membership.[12][13]

Militants published a newspaper, The Waterfront Worker, which focused on longshoremen's most pressing demands: more men on each gang, lighter loads and an independent union.[14][15] While a number of the individuals in this group were Communist Party members, the group as a whole was independent of the party: although it criticized the International Seamen's Union (ISU) as weak and the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), which had its base on the East Coast, as corrupt, it did not embrace the MWIU, but called instead for creation of small knots of activists at each port to serve as the first step in a slow, careful movement to unionize the industry.[16]

Events soon made the MWIU wholly irrelevant. Just as the passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act had led to a spontaneous explosion in union membership among coal miners in 1933, thousands of longshoremen now joined the fledgling ILA locals that reappeared on the West Coast.[17] The MWIU faded away as party activists followed the mass of West Coast longshoremen into the ILA.[16]

These newly emboldened workers first went after the "blue book" union, refusing to pay dues to it and tearing up their membership books. The militants who had published "The Waterfront Worker", now known as the "Albion Hall group" after their usual meeting place, continued organizing dock committees that soon began launching slowdowns and other types of job actions in order to win better working conditions.[16] While the official leadership of the ILA remained in the hands of conservatives sent to the West Coast by President Joseph Ryan of the ILA, the Albion Hall group started in March, 1934 to press demands for a coastwide contract, a union-run hiring hall and an industry wide waterfront federation.[18] When the conservative ILA leadership negotiated a weak "gentlemen's agreement" with the employers that had been brokered by the mediation board created by the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bridges led the membership in rejecting it.[19]

The sticking point in the strike was recognition: the union demanded a closed shop, a coastwide contract and a union hiring hall. The employers offered to arbitrate the dispute, but insisted that the union agree to an open shop as a condition of any agreement to arbitrate. The longshoremen rejected the proposal to arbitrate.[20]

The Big Strike

An engraved billy club commemorates police activity in the Battle of Smith Cove in Seattle.

The strike began on May 9, 1934, as longshoremen in every West Coast port walked out; sailors joined them several days later.[21] The employers recruited strikebreakers, housing them on moored ships or in walled compounds and bringing them to and from work under police protection.[22] Strikers attacked the stockade housing strikebreakers in San Pedro on May 15; police fired into the strikers and killed one and injured scores. The killing of Dick Parker created resentment up and down the coast.[23] Daily similar smaller clashes broke out in San Francisco and Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon,[24] and Seattle, Washington.[23] Strikers also succeeded in slowing down or stopping the movement of goods by rail out of the ports.[25]

The Roosevelt administration tried again to broker a deal to end the strike, but the membership twice rejected the agreements their leadership brought to them and continued the strike.[26] The employers then decided to make a show of force to reopen the port in San Francisco.[27] On Tuesday, July 3, fights broke out along the Embarcadero in San Francisco between police and strikers while a handful of trucks driven by young businessmen made it through the picket line.[28]

Some Teamsters supported the strikers by refusing to handle "hot cargo" – goods which had been unloaded by strikebreakers, although the Teamsters' leadership was not as supportive.[29] By the end of May Dave Beck, president of the Seattle Teamsters, and Mike Casey, president of those in San Francisco, thought the maritime strike had lasted too long.[30] They encouraged the strikers to take what they could get from the employers and threatened to use Teamsters as strikebreakers if the ILA did not return to work.[31]

Shipping companies, government officials, some union leaders and the press began to raise fears that the strike was the result of communist agitation.[32][33] This "red scare" also helped ignite a controversy about the New Deal Public Works of Art Project murals that were at the time being completed in San Francisco's Coit Tower (on Telegraph Hill, close to the location of the strike in San Francisco), leading to the postponing of the tower's July 7 opening, and later to the removal of communist symbols from two of the American Social Realism style murals.[32][33]

"Bloody Thursday"

San Francisco Coroner's Record of Death for Howard Sperry
San Francisco Coroner's Record of Death for Nicolas Bordoise
San Francisco Coroner's Records of Death for Howard Sperry and Nicolas Bordoise

After a quiet Fourth of July the employers' organization, the Industrial Association, tried to open the port of San Francisco even further on Thursday, July 5.[34] As spectators watched from Rincon Hill, the police shot tear gas canisters into the crowd, then followed with a charge by mounted police.[35] Picketers threw the canisters and rocks back at the police, who charged again, sending the picketers into retreat.[36] Each side then refortified and took stock.[37]

The events took a violent turn that afternoon, as hostilities resumed outside of the ILA strike kitchen.[38] Eyewitness accounts differ on the exact events that transpired next. According to some witnesses, a group of strikers first surrounded a police car and attempted to tip it over, prompting the police to fire shotguns in the air, and then revolvers at the crowd.[16] Other eyewitness accounts claim that police officers started shooting in the direction of the strikers, provoking strikers to defend themselves. Policemen fired a shotgun into the crowd, striking three men in intersection of Steuart and Mission streets. One of the men, Howard Sperry, a striking longshoreman, later died of his wounds. Another man, Charles Olsen, was also shot but later recovered from his wounds. A third man, Nick Bordoise – a Greek by birth (originally named Nick Counderakis) who was an out of work member of the cook's union volunteering at the ILA strike kitchen – was shot but managed to make his way around the corner onto Spear Street, where he was found several hours later. Like Sperry, he died at the hospital.[39]

Strikers immediately cordoned off the area where the two picketers had been shot, laying flowers and wreaths around it. Police arrived to remove the flowers and drive off the picketers minutes later. Once the police left, the strikers returned, replaced the flowers and stood guard over the spot. Though Sperry and Bordoise had been shot several blocks apart, this spot became synonymous with the memory of the two slain men and "Bloody Thursday."[40]

As strikers carried wounded picketers into the ILA union hall police fired on the hall and lobbed tear gas canisters at nearby hotels. At this point someone reportedly called the union hall to ask "Are you willing to arbitrate now?"[41]

Under orders from California Governor Frank Merriam, the California National Guard moved in that evening to patrol the waterfront.[42] Similarly, federal soldiers of the United States Army stationed at the Presidio were placed on alert. The picketers pulled back, unwilling to take on armed soldiers in an uneven fight, and trucks and trains began moving without interference. Bridges asked the San Francisco Labor Council to meet that Saturday, July 7, to authorize a general strike.[43] The Alameda County Central Labor Council in Oakland considered the same action. Teamsters in both San Francisco and Oakland voted to strike, over the objections of their leaders, on Sunday, July 8.[44]

Funerals and general strike

The following day, several thousand strikers, families and sympathizers took part in a funeral procession down Market Street, stretching more than a mile and a half, for Nicholas Bordoise and Howard Sperry, the two persons killed on "Bloody Thursday".[45] The police were wholly absent from the scene. The march made an enormous impact on San Franciscans, making a general strike, which had formerly been "the visionary dream of a small group of the most radical workers, became . . . a practical and realizable objective."[46] After dozens of Bay Area unions voted for a general strike over the next few days, the San Francisco Labor Council voted on July 14 to call a general strike.[47] The Teamsters had already been out for two days by that point.[48]

San Francisco Mayor Angelo Rossi declared a state of emergency.[49] Some federal officials, particularly Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, were more skeptical.[50] Roosevelt later recalled that some persons were urging him to steer the USS Houston, which was carrying him to Hawaii, "into San Francisco Bay, all flags flying and guns double-shotted, and end the strike." Roosevelt rejected the suggestion.[51]

The general strike began on the 16th, involving some 150,000 workers.[16] On the 17th the police arrested more than 300 "radicals, subversives, and communists" while systematically smashing furniture and equipment of organizations related to the strike; the same day, General Hugh S. Johnson as head of the National Recovery Administration spoke at UC Berkeley to denounce the general strike as "a menace to the government."[52]

The strike lasted four days. Non-union truck drivers joined the first day; the movie theaters and night clubs closed down. While food deliveries continued with the permission of the strike committee, many small businesses closed, posting signs in support of the strikers.[53] Reports that unions in Portland and Seattle would also begin general strikes picked up currency.[54]

End of the strike

The calling of a general strike had an unexpected result: it gave the General Strike Committee, whose makeup was far less militant than the longshoremen's strike committee, effective control over the maritime strike itself.[55] When the Labor Council voted to terminate the general strike it also recommended that the unions accept arbitration of all disputed issues.[56] When the National Longshore Board put the employer's proposal to arbitrate to a vote of striking longshoremen, it passed in every port except Everett, Washington.[citation needed]

That, however, left the striking seamen in the lurch: the employers had refused to arbitrate with the ISU unless it first won elections on the fleets on strike. While Bridges, who had preached solidarity among all maritime workers and scorned arbitration, apologized to the seamen for the longshoremen's vote, the President of the ISU urged them to hold out and to burn their "fink books", the membership records of the company union to which they had been forced to pay dues.[57]

On July 17, 1934, the California National Guard blocked both ends of Jackson Street from Drumm to Front with machine gun mounted trucks to assist vigilante raids, protected by SFPD, on the headquarters of the Marine Workers' Industrial Union and the ILA soup kitchen at 84 Embarcadero. Moving on, the Workers' Ex-Servicemen's League's headquarters on Howard between Third and Fourth was raided, leading to 150 arrests and the complete destruction of the facilities. The employer's group, the Industrial Association, had agents riding with the police.[58] Further raids were carried out at the Workers' Open Forum at 1223 Fillmore street and the Western Worker building opposite City Hall that contained a bookstore and the main offices of the Communist Party, which was thoroughly destroyed.[59] Attacks were also perpetrated on the 121 Haight Street Workers' School and the Mission Workers' Neighborhood House at 741 Valencia Street.[60] A police spokesperson suggested that "maybe the Communists staged the raids themselves for publicity".[61]

General Hugh S. Johnson, then head of the National Recovery Administration, gave a speech urging responsible labor leaders to "run these subversive influences out from its ranks like rats".[62] A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union was kidnapped and beaten, while vigilantes seized thirteen radicals in San Jose and turned them over to the sheriff of an adjoining county, who transported them to another county.[63] In Hayward in Alameda County someone erected a scaffold in front of the city hall with a noose and a sign stating "Reds beware".[64] In Piedmont, an upscale community surrounded by Oakland on all sides, the chief of police prepared for a reported attack by strikers on the homes of wealthy ship-owners.[65]


While some of the most powerful people in San Francisco considered the strike's denouement to be a victory for the employers, many longshoremen and seamen did not. Spontaneous strikes over grievances and workplace conditions broke out as strikers returned to their jobs, with longshoremen and teamsters supporting their demands.[66] Employers conceded many of these battles, giving workers even more confidence in demanding that employers lighten unbearably heavy loads.[67] Longshoremen also began dictating other terms, fining members who worked more than the ceiling of 120 hours per month, filing charges against a gang boss for "slandering colored brothers" and forcing employers to fire strikebreakers.[68] Other unions went further: the Marine Firemen proposed to punish any member who bought a Hearst newspaper.[69]

The arbitration award issued on October 12, 1934, cemented the ILA's power.[70] While the award put the operation of the hall in the hands of a committee of union and employer representatives, the union was given the power to select the dispatcher. Since longshoremen were prepared to walk out if an employer did not hire a worker dispatched from the hall, the ILA soon controlled hiring on the docks. The employers complained that the union wanted to "sovietize" the waterfront.[71] Workers complained that the employers were exploiting them for cheap labor and forcing them to work in unsafe conditions without reasonable safety measures.[citation needed]

The union soon utilized the "quickie strike" tactic to force many concessions from employers such as safer working conditions and better pay.[72] Similarly, even though an arbitrator held that the 1935 Agreement prohibited sympathy strikes, the union's members nonetheless refused to cross other unions' picket lines. Longshoremen also refused to handle "hot cargo" destined for non-union warehouses that the union was attempting to organize.[73] The ISU acquired similar authority over hiring, despite the philosophical objection of the union's own officers to hiring halls. The ISU used this power to drive strikebreakers out of the industry.[74]

The rift between the seamen's and longshoremen's unions deepened and became more complex in the succeeding years, as Bridges continually fought with the Sailors' Union of the Pacific over labor and political issues. The West Coast district of the ILA broke off from the International in 1937 to form the International Longshoremen's Union, later renamed the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union after the union's "march inland" to organize warehouse workers, then renamed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) in recognition of the number of women members.[citation needed]

The arbitration award also gave longshoremen a raise to ninety-five cents ($18.16 in 2019 Dollars)[75] an hour for straight time work, just shy of the dollar an hour it demanded during the strike. It was also awarded a contract that applied up and down the West Coast.[76] The strike also prompted union organizer Carmen Lucia to organize the Department Store Workers Union and the Retail Clerks Association in San Francisco.[77]


The ILWU continues to recognize "Bloody Thursday" by shutting down all West Coast ports every July 5 and honoring Nick Bordoise, Howard Sperry and all of the other workers killed by police during the strike.[78] The ILWU has frequently stopped work for political protests against, among other things, Italy's invasion of Ethiopia, fascist intervention in Spain's civil war, South Africa's system of apartheid and the Iraq War.[16][79]

Sam Kagel, the last surviving member of the original union steering committee, died on May 21, 2007 at the age of 98.[80]

See also


  1. ^ Preis, Art (1974). Labor's giant step: twenty years of the CIO. Pathfinder Press. pp. 31–33.
  2. ^ Kimeldorf, Howard (1988-11-04). Reds or Rackets?: The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront. University of California Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780520912779.
  3. ^ Preis, Art (1974). Labor's giant step: twenty years of the CIO. Pathfinder Press. pp. 31–33.
  4. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. pp. 85–86. ISBN 9780195118025.
  5. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 231. ISBN 9780520288409.
  6. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 60. ISBN 9780252061448.
  7. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 61–62. ISBN 9780252061448.
  8. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 64–65. ISBN 9780252061448.
  9. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 39. ISBN 9780717805044.
  10. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 79. ISBN 9780252061448.
  11. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 62. ISBN 9780252061448.
  12. ^ http://depts.washington.edu/dock/Harry_Bridges_intro.shtml
  13. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. p. 93. ISBN 9780195118025.
  14. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 232. ISBN 9780520288409.
  15. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. p. 90. ISBN 9780195118025.
  16. ^ a b c d e f Chretien, Todd (June 2012). "The Communist Party, the unions, and the San Francisco General Strike". International Socialist Review. 84.
  17. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 40. ISBN 9780717805044.
  18. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. pp. 94–95. ISBN 9780195118025.
  19. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 42–44. ISBN 9780717805044.
  20. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 41–42. ISBN 9780717805044.
  21. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. pp. 90–91. ISBN 9780195118025.
  22. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. p. 91. ISBN 9780195118025.
  23. ^ a b Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 50. ISBN 9780717805044.
  24. ^ Munk, Michael. "West coast waterfront strike of 1934". Oregon Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  25. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 49–50. ISBN 9780717805044.
  26. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. pp. 100–101. ISBN 9780195118025.
  27. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 102. ISBN 9780717805044.
  28. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 103–105. ISBN 9780717805044.
  29. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 48–49. ISBN 9780717805044.
  30. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 80. ISBN 9780717805044.
  31. ^ Longshoreman's Strike of 1934 - ILWU
  32. ^ a b Depression-Era Murals of the Bay Area. Arcadia Publishing. 2014. ISBN 9781467131445. As the strike raged along the waterfront at the base of Telegraph Hill, many claimed that the labor unrest was influenced by members of the Communist Party. Simultaneously, the PWAP took notice of blatant communist references in the Coit Tower murals painted by Victor Arnautoff, John Langley Howard, Clifford Wight, and Bernhard Zakheim.
  33. ^ a b Kamiya, Gary (2017-07-08). "How Coit Tower's murals became a target for anticommunist forces". www.sfchronicle.com. Retrieved 2019-02-04.
  34. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 110. ISBN 9780717805044.
  35. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 111. ISBN 9780717805044.
  36. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 112. ISBN 9780717805044.
  37. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. pp. 239–40. ISBN 9780520288409.
  38. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 113. ISBN 9780717805044.
  39. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. pp. 107–8. ISBN 9780195118025.
  40. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 119. ISBN 9780717805044.
  41. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 113. ISBN 9780717805044.
  42. ^ Starr, Kevin (1997). Endangered Dreams: The Great Depression in California. Oxford University Press. p. 108. ISBN 9780195118025.
  43. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 122. ISBN 9780717805044.
  44. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 123. ISBN 9780717805044.
  45. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 240. ISBN 9780520288409.
  46. ^ words of Paul Eliel, Waterfront and General Strikes pg. 128, quoted in Bruce, Nelson (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 303. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  47. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 138, 141. ISBN 9780717805044.
  48. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 133. ISBN 9780717805044.
  49. ^ Milton, David (1982). Politics of US Labor. NYU Press. p. 50. ISBN 9780853455707.
  50. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 142. ISBN 9780717805044.
  51. ^ Milton, David (1982). Politics of US Labor. NYU Press. p. 49. ISBN 9780853455707.
  52. ^ Carlsson, Chris. "The General Strike of 1934". Found SF. Retrieved 15 April 2017.
  53. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 151. ISBN 9780717805044.
  54. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 173. ISBN 9780717805044.
  55. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. pp. 156–157. ISBN 9780717805044.
  56. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 176. ISBN 9780717805044.
  57. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 244. ISBN 9780520288409.
  58. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 160. ISBN 9780717805044.
  59. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 161. ISBN 9780717805044.
  60. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 162. ISBN 9780717805044.
  61. ^ Selvin, David F. (1996). A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco. Wayne State University Press. p. 200. ISBN 0814326102.
  62. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 243. ISBN 9780520288409.
  63. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 167. ISBN 9780717805044.
  64. ^ Quin, Mike (1979). The Big Strike. International Publishers Co. p. 166. ISBN 9780717805044.
  65. ^ An Exercise in Hysteria: San Francisco's Red Raids of 1934 - David F. Selvin - The Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 361-374
  66. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 156–157. ISBN 9780252061448.
  67. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 158. ISBN 9780252061448.
  68. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. pp. 244–45. ISBN 9780520288409.
  69. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780252061448.
  70. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 245. ISBN 9780520288409.
  71. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 162–163. ISBN 9780252061448.
  72. ^ Kimeldorf, Howard (1988-11-04). Reds or Rackets?: The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront. University of California Press. p. 112. ISBN 9780520912779.
  73. ^ Kimeldorf, Howard (1988-11-04). Reds or Rackets?: The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront. University of California Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780520912779.
  74. ^ Nelson, Bruce (1990). Workers on the Waterfront: Seamen, Longshoremen, and Unionism in the 1930s. University of Illinois Press. pp. 164–166. ISBN 9780252061448.
  75. ^ "$0.95 in 1934 → 2019 | Inflation Calculator". www.in2013dollars.com. Retrieved 2019-07-05.
  76. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 245. ISBN 9780520288409.
  77. ^ O'Farrell, Brigid (1996). Rocking the Boat: Union Women's Voices, 1915-1975. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. p. 40 – via Google Books.
  78. ^ Glass, Fred (2016-06-28). From Mission to Microchip: A History of the California Labor Movement. Univ of California Press. p. 246. ISBN 9780520288409.
  79. ^ Kimeldorf, Howard (1988-11-04). Reds or Rackets?: The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront. University of California Press. p. 114. ISBN 9780520912779.
  80. ^ Nolte, Carl (27 May 2007). "Sam Kagel -- arbitrator in major labor disputes (obit)". SF Gate. Retrieved 15 April 2017.

Further reading

  • The Big Strike, by Mike Quin, ISBN 0-7178-0504-2
  • A Terrible Anger: The 1934 Waterfront and General Strikes in San Francisco, by David F. Selvin. Wayne State University Press (July 1996). ISBN 0-8143-2610-2.
  • Dock Strike: History of the 1934 Waterfront Strike in Portland, Oregon, by Roger Buchanan
  • Reds or Rackets, The Making of Radical and Conservative Unions on the Waterfront, by Howard Kimeldorf, ISBN 0-520-07886-1
  • Harry Bridges, The Rise and Fall of Radical Labor in the U.S., by Charles Larrowe, ISBN 0-88208-001-6
  • Workers on the Waterfront, Seamen, Longshoremen and Unionism in the 1930s, by Bruce Nelson, ISBN 0-252-06144-6
  • Agitate, Educate, Organize: Portland, 1934, by William Bigelow & Norman Diamond, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Spring 1988
  • "1934 West Coast waterfront strike". The Oregon Encyclopedia.
  • 1934: The Great Strike, a multimedia section of the Waterfront Workers History Project, including film and photographs of the strike, a day-by-day account of the strike and digitized copies of newspaper articles and worker newsletters.


4 July 1881

In Alabama, the Tuskegee Institute opens.

Tuskegee University

Tuskegee University
Tuskegee University seal.svg
MottoScientia Principatus Opera
Motto in English
Knowledge, Leadership, Service
TypePrivate, HBCU, Land-grant
EstablishedJuly 4, 1881 (1881-07-04)
FounderBooker T. Washington
Academic affiliations
Endowment$130.2 million (2014)
PresidentLily McNair
Students3,140 (2017)[2]
Location, ,

32°25′48.76″N 85°42′27.81″W / 32.4302111°N 85.7077250°W / 32.4302111; -85.7077250
CampusRural, 5,200 acres
ColorsCrimson and Gold[3]
NicknameGolden Tigers
Sporting affiliations
Tuskegee University logo.svg

Tuskegee University is a private, historically black university (HBCU) located in Tuskegee, Alabama, United States. It was established by Lewis Adams and Booker T. Washington. The campus is designated as the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site by the National Park Service. The university was home to scientist George Washington Carver and to World War II's Tuskegee Airmen.

Tuskegee University offers 40 bachelor's degree programs, 17 master's degree programs, a 5-year accredited professional degree program in architecture, 4 doctoral degree programs, and the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. The university is home to over 3,100 students from the U.S. and 30 foreign countries. Tuskegee University was ranked among 2018's best 379 colleges and universities by The Princeton Review and 6th among the 2018 U.S. News & World Report best HBCUs.

The university's campus was designed by architect Robert Robinson Taylor, the first African American to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in conjunction with David Williston, the first professionally trained African-American landscape architect.[4]


Planning and establishment

History class at Tuskegee, 1902

The school was founded on July 4, 1881, as the Tuskegee Normal School for Colored Teachers. This was a result of an agreement made during the 1880 elections in Macon County between a former Confederate Colonel, W.F. Foster, who was running on the democratic ticket and a local Black Leader and Republican, Lewis Adams. W.F. Foster propositioned that if Adams could successfully persuade the Black constituents to vote for Foster, if elected, Foster would push the state of Alabama to establish a school for Black people in the county. At the time the majority of Macon County population was Black, thus Black constituents had political power. Adams succeeded and Foster followed through with the school.[citation needed] The school became a part of the expansion of higher education for blacks in the former Confederate states following the American Civil War, with many schools founded by the northern American Missionary Association. A teachers' school was the dream of Lewis Adams, a former slave, and George W. Campbell, a banker, merchant, and former slaveholder, who shared a commitment to the education of blacks. Despite lacking formal education, Adams could read, write, and speak several languages. He was an experienced tinsmith, harness-maker, and shoemaker and was a Prince Hall Freemason, an acknowledged leader of the African-American community in Macon County, Alabama.

Adams and Campbell had secured $2,000 from the State of Alabama for teachers' salaries but nothing for land, buildings, or equipment. Adams, Campbell (replacing Thomas Dryer, who died after his appointment), and M. B. Swanson formed Tuskegee's first board of commissioners. Campbell wrote to the Hampton Institute, a historically black college in Virginia, requesting the recommendation of a teacher for their new school. Samuel C. Armstrong, the Hampton principal and a former Union general, recommended 25-year-old Booker T. Washington, an alumnus and teacher at Hampton.

As the newly hired principal in Tuskegee, Booker Washington began classes for his new school in a rundown church and shanty. The following year (1882), he purchased a former plantation of 100 acres in size. In 1973 the Tuskegee Institute, now Tuskegee University, did an oral history interview with Annie Lou "Bama" Miller. In that interview she indicated that her grandmother sold the original 100 acres of land to Booker T. Washington. That oral history interview is located at the Tuskegee University archives. The earliest campus buildings were constructed on that property, usually by students as part of their work-study. By the start of the 20th century, the Tuskegee Institute occupied nearly 2,300 acres.[5]

Based on his experience at the Hampton Institute, Washington intended to train students in skills, morals, and religious life, in addition to academic subjects. Washington urged the teachers he trained "to return to the plantation districts and show the people there how to put new energy and new ideas into farming as well as into the intellectual and moral and religious life of the people."[6] Washington's second wife Olivia A. Davidson, was instrumental to the success and helped raise funds for the school.[7]

Gradually, a rural extension program was developed, to take progressive ideas and training to those who could not come to the campus. Tuskegee alumni founded smaller schools and colleges throughout the South; they continued to emphasize teacher training.

Booker T. Washington's leadership

Booker T. Washington
The Oaks, Booker T. Washington's home on the Tuskegee campus, c. 1906
Presidents of Tuskegee University
Booker T. Washington 1881–1915
Robert Russa Moton 1915–1935
Frederick Douglass Patterson 1935–1953
Luther H. Foster Jr. 1953–1981
Benjamin F. Payton 1981–2010
Charlotte P. Morris (interim) 2010–2010
Gilbert L. Rochon 2010–2013
(acting) 2013–2014
Charlotte P. Morris (interim) 2017–2018
Lily D. McNair 2018–present

As a young free man after the Civil War, Washington sought a formal education. He worked his way through Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) and attended college at Wayland Seminary in Washington, DC (now Virginia Union University). He returned to Hampton as a teacher.

Hired as principal of the new normal school (for the training of teachers) in Tuskegee, Alabama, Booker Washington opened his school on July 4, 1881, on the grounds of the Butler Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. The following year, he bought the grounds of a former plantation, out of which he expanded the institute in the decades that followed.

The school expressed Washington's dedication to the pursuit of self-reliance. In addition to training teachers, he also taught the practical skills needed for his students to succeed at farming or other trades typical of the rural South, where most of them came from. He wanted his students to see labor as practical, but also as beautiful and dignified. As part of their work-study programs, students constructed most of the new buildings. Many students earned all or part of their expenses through the construction, agricultural, and domestic work associated with the campus, as they reared livestock and raised crops, as well as producing other goods.

The continuing expansion of black education took place against a background of increased violence against blacks in the South, after white Democrats regained power in state governments and imposed white supremacy in society. They instituted legal racial segregation and a variety of Jim Crow laws, after disfranchising most blacks by constitutional amendments and electoral rules from 1890 until 1964. Against this background, Washington's vision, as expressed in his "Atlanta compromise" speech, became controversial and was challenged by new leaders, such as W.E.B. Du Bois, who argued that blacks should have opportunities for study in classical academic programs, as well as vocational institutes. In the early twentieth century, Du Bois envisioned the rise of "the Talented Tenth" to lead African Americans.

Washington gradually attracted notable scholars to Tuskegee, including the botanist George Washington Carver, one of the university's most renowned professors.


Perceived as a spokesman for black "industrial" education, Washington developed a network of wealthy American philanthropists who donated to the school, such as Andrew Carnegie, Collis P. Huntington, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Huttleston Rogers, George Eastman, and Elizabeth Milbank Anderson. An early champion of the concept of matching funds, Henry H. Rogers was a major anonymous contributor to Tuskegee and dozens of other black schools for more than fifteen years.

Thanks to recruitment efforts on the island and contacts with the U.S. military, Tuskegee had a particularly large population of Afro-Cuban students during these years. Following small-scale recruitments prior to the 1898–99 school year, the university quickly gained popularity among ambitious Afro-Cubans. In the first three decades of the school's existence, dozens of Afro-Cubans enrolled at Tuskegee each year, becoming the largest population of foreign students at the school.[8]


George Washington Carver (front row, center) poses with fellow faculty of Tuskegee Institute in this c. 1902 photograph taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston.

Washington developed a major relationship with Julius Rosenwald, a self-made man who rose to the top of Sears, Roebuck and Company in Chicago, Illinois. He had long been concerned about the lack of educational resources for blacks, especially in the South. After meeting with Washington, Rosenwald agreed to serve on Tuskegee's Board of Directors. He also worked with Washington to stimulate funding to train teachers' schools such as Tuskegee and Hampton institutes.

Washington was a tireless fundraiser for the institute. In 1905 he kicked off an endowment campaign, raising money all over America in 1906 for the 25th anniversary of the institution. Along with wealthy donors, he gave a lecture at Carnegie Hall in New York on January 23, 1906, called the Tuskegee Institute Silver Anniversary Lecture, in which Mark Twain spoke.

Beginning with a pilot program in 1912, Rosenwald created model rural schools and stimulated construction of new schools across the South. Tuskegee architects developed the model plans, and some students helped build the schools. Rosenwald created a fund but required communities to raise matching funds, to encourage local collaboration between blacks and whites. Rosenwald and Washington stimulated the construction and operation of more than 5,000 small community schools and supporting resources for the education of blacks throughout the rural the South into the 1930s.

Despite his travels and widespread work, Washington continued as principal of Tuskegee. Concerned about the educator's health, Rosenwald encouraged him to slow his pace. In 1915, Washington died at the age of 59, as a result of high blood pressure.[9] At his death, Tuskegee's endowment exceeded US$1.5 million. He was buried on the campus near the chapel.

Tuskegee campus, 1916
Tuskegee campus, 1916

Tuskegee, in cooperation with church missionary activity, work to set up industrial training programs in Africa.[10]


Tuskegee Institute, c. 1916

The years after World War I challenged the basis of the Tuskegee Institute. Teaching was still seen as a critical calling, but southern society was changing rapidly. Attracted by the growth of industrial jobs in the North, including the rapid expansion of the Pennsylvania Railroad, suffering job losses because of the boll weevil and increasing mechanization of agriculture, and fleeing extra-legal violence, hundreds of thousands of rural blacks moved from the South to Northern and Midwestern industrial cities in the Great Migration. A total of 1.5 million moved during this period. In the South, industrialization was occurring in cities such as Birmingham, Alabama and other booming areas. The programs at Tuskegee, based on an agricultural economy, had to change. During and after World War II, migration to the North continued, with California added as a destination because of its defense industries. A total of 5 million blacks moved out of the South from 1940–1970.

Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment

From 1932 to 1972, Tuskegee Institute collaborated with the United States government in the Tuskegee syphilis experiment by which the effects of deliberately untreated syphilis were studied. These experiments have become infamous for misleading study participants by telling them that they were being treated for syphilis when in fact researchers were only monitoring the progression of the disease. Syphilis is a debilitating disease that can leave its victims with permanent neurological damage and horrifying scars (see granulomatous gummas). Penicillin was discovered in 1927 and it was being used to treat human disease by the early 1940s. In 1947 it had become the gold standard in treating syphilis and often only required one intramuscular dose to completely eliminate the disease. The researchers were well aware of this information and in order to continue their experiments, they chose to withhold the life-saving treatment. The researchers proceeded to actively deter study participants from obtaining penicillin from other physicians. The patients were told that they had "bad blood." This experiment was conducted by the U.S. Public Health Service in collaboration with the Tuskegee Institute. This was a direct violation of the Hippocratic Oath, however, not a single researcher, nor the Tuskegee University was legally punished.

World War II and after

Tuskegee University Chapel (1969)

In 1941, in an effort to train black aviators, the U.S. Army Air Corps established a training program at Tuskegee Institute, using Moton Field, about 4 miles (6.4 km) away from the campus center. The graduates became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site at Moton Field was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998. Army, Air Force, and Navy have R.O.T.C. programs on campus today.

Numerous presidents have visited Tuskegee, including Franklin D. Roosevelt. Eleanor Roosevelt was also interested in the Institute and its aeronautical school. In 1941 she visited Tuskegee Army Air Field and worked to have African Americans get the chance as pilots in the military. She corresponded with F.D. Patterson, the third president of the Tuskegee Institute, and frequently lent her support to programs.[11]

The notable architect Paul Rudolph was commissioned in 1958 to produce a new campus master plan. In 1960 he was awarded, along with the partnership of John A. Welch and Louis Fry, the commission for a new chapel, perhaps the most significant modern building constructed in Alabama.

The postwar decades were a time of continued expansion for Tuskegee, which added new programs and departments, adding graduate programs in several fields to reflect the rise of professional studies. For example, its School of Veterinary Medicine was added in 1944. Mechanical Engineering was added in 1953, and a four-year program in Architecture in 1957, with a six-year program in 1965.

In 1985, Tuskegee Institute achieved university status and was renamed Tuskegee University.

In 2019, the school signed a deal with a for-profit college, Ross University School of Medicine, to increase the number of African America doctors in the US [12]

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site
Tuskegee University is located in Alabama
Tuskegee University
Tuskegee University is located in the United States
Tuskegee University
Nearest cityTuskegee, Alabama
Coordinates32°25′49″N 85°42′28″W / 32.43028°N 85.70778°W / 32.43028; -85.70778Coordinates: 32°25′49″N 85°42′28″W / 32.43028°N 85.70778°W / 32.43028; -85.70778
ArchitectRobert Robinson Taylor
Architectural styleGreek Revival, Queen Anne
WebsiteTuskegee Institute National Historic Site
NRHP reference #66000151
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 15, 1966[13]
Designated NHLJune 23, 1965[14]

In 1965 Tuskegee University was declared a National Historic Landmark for the significance of its academic programs, its role in higher education for African-Americans, and its status in United States history.[14] Congress authorized the establishment of the Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site.

The National Historic Site includes The Oaks, Booker T. Washington's home and the George Washington Carver Museum. As the landmark designation did not define a limited area, the district is believed to have included the entire Tuskegee University campus at the time.[15] Points of "special historic interest," noted in the landmark description include:[15]

The Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site is at Moton Field, in Tuskegee, Alabama.


Built in 1857, Grey Columns now serves as the home of the president of Tuskegee University. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 11, 1980.

The Tuskegee Institute commissioned a documentary[when?] about the college for use as a marketing tool and to preserve memories of Washington. A Tuskegee Pilgrimage, was a collection of interviews with faculty and students. It was produced by Robert Levy, who in 1922 had made an independent documentary about Washington, titled The Leader of His Race.

Tuskegee University campus

Tuskegee University provides 24-hour Campus Police protection for its students. All officers are state certified.

The Tuskegee University Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center

The Tuskegee University Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center

The Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center at the renovated Dorothy Hall (built 1901) was established in 1994 on the campus of Tuskegee University by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The Kellogg Conference Center offers multimedia meeting rooms, as well as a 300-seat auditorium and a ballroom that accommodates up to 350 guests. Students studying Hospitality Management within the Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science & Dietetics students within the Department of Food and Nutrition Science are able to receive hands on experience at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center. The Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center is the only center at a historically black university; there are only 11 worldwide. Other Kellogg Conference Centers in the United States are located at: Michigan State University, Gallaudet University and the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Cal Poly Pomona).


A view of the Tuskegee University campus – White Hall bell tower

The academic programs are organized into five Colleges and two Schools: : (1) The College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences; (2) The College of Arts and Sciences; (3) The Brimmer College of Business and Information Science; (4) The College of Engineering; (5) The College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health; (6), The Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science; and (7) The School of Education.

Tuskegee houses an undergraduate honors program for qualified rising sophomores (and above) with at least a cumulative 3.2 GPA.[16]

Tuskegee University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award Baccalaureate, Master's, Doctorate, and professional degrees. The following academic programs are accredited by national agencies: Architecture, Business, Education, Engineering, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Nursing, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, and Veterinary Medicine.

Tuskegee University is the only Historically Black University to offer the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.); its School of Veterinary Medicine was established in 1944. The school is fully accredited by the Council on Education of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

College of Veterinary Medicine – Fredrick D Patterson Hall

Tuskegee University offers several Engineering degree programs all with ABET accreditation.

The Aerospace Science Engineering department was established in 1983. Tuskegee University is the first and only Historically Black University to offer an accredited B.S. degree in Aerospace Engineering. The Mechanical Engineering Department was established in 1954 and the Chemical Engineering Department began in 1977; The Department of Electrical Engineering is the largest of five departments within the College of Engineering. The program is accredited by EAC/ABET (Engineering Accreditation Commission/Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

College of Engineering – Luther H. Foster Hall has long been home to one of the nation's best engineering programs containing: Aerospace Science Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Materials Science Engineering, Mechanical and Military Science

The Tuskegee University Andrew F. Brimmer College of Business and Information Science is fully accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB-International).

The school of Nursing was established as the Tuskegee Institute Training School of Nurses and registered with the Alabama State board of Nursing, September 1892 under the auspices of the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital. In 1948 the university began its baccalaureate program in Nursing; becoming the first nursing program in the state of Alabama. The Nursing department holds full accreditation from the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission and is approved by the Alabama State Board of Nursing.

Tuskegee University School of Nursing – Basil O'Connor Hall. Tuskegee Institute Training School of Nurses was registered with the State Board of Nursing in Alabama in September 1892 under the auspices of Tuskegee University's John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital. In 1948, the School began its baccalaureate program leading to the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. This program has the distinction of being the first Baccalaureate Nursing program in the State of Alabama.

The Occupational Therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association. The Clinical Laboratory Science Program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences. (NAACLS)

Tuskegee University began offering certificates in Architecture under the Division of Mechanical Industries in 1893. The 4-year curriculum in architecture leading to the Bachelor of Science degree was initiated in 1957 and the professional 6-year program in 1965. The Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture offers two professional programs: Architecture, and Construction Science and Management. The 5-year Bachelor of Architecture program is fully accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Graduates of the program are qualified to become registered architects.

Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science is home to one of only 2 NAAB-accredited, architecture professional degree programs in the state of Alabama. It is also home to one of the top Construction Science and Management degree programs in the nation.

In 2019, Tuskegee signed a partnership with the Ross University School of Medicine to help redress diversity shortages in the medical field. Qualified Tuskegee students will automatically gain admissions into the medical school with a tuition free first semester.[17]


Schools and colleges

  • College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Science[21]
  • College of Arts and Sciences[22]
  • College of Business and Information Science[23]
  • College of Engineering[24]
  • College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health[25]
  • School of Architecture and Construction Science[26]
  • School of Education[27]
  • School of Nursing and Allied Health[28]

National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care

National Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care is the nation's first bioethics center devoted to engaging the sciences, humanities, law and religious faiths in the exploration of the core moral issues which underlie research and medical treatment of African Americans and other under-served people. The official launching of the Center took place two years after President Bill Clinton's apology to the nation, the survivors of the Syphilis Study, Tuskegee University, and Tuskegee/Macon County, Alabama for the U.S. Public Health Service medical experiment (1932–1972), where 399 poor—and mostly illiterate—African American sharecroppers became part of a study on non-treating and natural history of syphilis.[29]


Tuskegee is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II and competes within the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC). The university has a total of 10 varsity sports teams, five men's teams called the "Golden Tigers", and five women's teams called the "Tigerettes".

Tuskegee's Men's Basketball won the 2014 SIAC Championship and the 2014 NCAA Division South Region Championship. The Golden Tigers also made it to the Elite Eight during the 2014 NCAA Men's Division II Basketball Tournament. Tuskegee's Women's Softball won the 2014 SIAC Championship.

The Tuskegee Department of Athletics sponsors the following sports:


Tuskegee University's historic Cleveland Leigh Abbott Memorial Alumni Stadium, completed 1924. The stadium was the first of its kind to be built at any HBCU in the south.

The Tuskegee University football team has won 29 SIAC championships (the most in SIAC history). As of 2013 the Golden Tigers continue to be the most successful HBCU with 652 wins.

In 2013 Tuskegee opted not to renew its contract to face rival Alabama State University (Division I FCS) in the Turkey Day Classic, the oldest black college football classic in the country. Instead, after going 10–2 the Golden Tigers made their first playoff appearance in school history for the 2013 NCAA Division II Football Championship, for which they had qualified in the past but could not participate due to the Turkey Day Classic. Tuskegee competed against the University of North Alabama in the first round of the playoffs, but lost 30–27. Tuskegee won the 2014 SIAC Football Championship and advanced to the first round of the NCAA Division II football playoffs with a loss of 20–17 to University of West Georgia.

Tuskegee lead the nation in 2013 Division II football average attendance for their three home games.[30]


The baseball program has won thirteen SIAC championships and has produced several professional players, including big-leaguers Leon Wagner, Ken Howell, Alan Mills and Roy Lee Jackson.


Tuskegee defeated Albany State University, 11–7, to claim the 2014 SIAC Softball Championship.


Tuskegee won the 2013–14 SIAC Championship and advanced to the 2014 NCAA Division II Men's Basketball Tournament. Tuskegee won the NCAA Division II South Regional Championship by defeating Delta State University 80-59. The Golden Tigers fell to No. 1-ranked Metro State (Metropolitan State University of Denver), 106-87, in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Division II tournament at Ford Center, in Evansville, Indiana.

Track and field

Track began (Men and Women) at Tuskegee in 1916. The first Tuskegee Relays and Meet was held on May 7, 1927; it was the oldest African American relay meet.

The Tuskegee women's team won the championship of the Amateur Athletic Union national senior outdoor meet for all athletes 14 times in 1937–1942 and 1944–1951. The team likewise won the AAU national indoor championship four times in 1941, 1945, 1946 and 1948.[31]

Tuskegee's Alice Coachman was the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in any sport, at the 1948 Olympic Games in London. Iram Lewis, a Tuskegee graduate of architecture, is an Olympian relay runner who competed for the Bahamas.

Student organizations

Some notable student organizations

Notable faculty and staff

Name Department Notability Reference
J. Pius Barbour (1919–1921) Executive director of the National Baptist Association, editor of the National Baptist Voice, mentor to Martin Luther King, Jr. [32]
George Washington Carver African American scientist, botanist, educator, and inventor whose studies and teaching revolutionized agriculture in the Southern United States
C. M. Battey Photography (1916–1927) photographer who made portraits of many black leaders and shot covers for The Crisis magazine
General Daniel "Chappie" James fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, who in 1975 became the first African American to reach the rank of four-star General
P. H. Polk Photography (1933–1938) photographer who documented working class African Americans, ex-slaves, and black leaders; also served as the institute's official photographer for four decades.
Ruth Logan Roberts Physical education Suffragist, YWCA leader on national level, activist for social and women's health issues, and host of a salon in Harlem [33]
Lamina Sankoh early Sierra Leonean nationalist politician who taught at Tuskegee in the late 1920s
Robert Robinson Taylor first African American graduate of MIT, architect for most of the Tuskegee campus buildings and founder of trades programs, served as second in command to Tuskegee's founder and first president, Dr. Booker T. Washington
Andrew P. Torrence President of Tennessee State University (1968-1974); executive vice president and provost of Tuskegee University (1974-1980) [34]
Booker T. Washington Appointed President for 1881–1915 first principal of the university [35]
Josephine Turpin Washington Mathematics 1886 Howard University alumni, early writer on civil rights topics [36]
Nathaniel Oglesby Calloway Chemistry 1930 Iowa State University alumni, first African-American to receive PhD

Notable alumni

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Chalmers Archer 1972 author of "Growing Up Black in Mississippi" and "Green Berets in the Vanguard"
Robert Beck 1970s writer known as Iceberg Slim
Amelia Boynton Robinson 1927 international civil and human rights activist, the first woman from Alabama to run United States Congress in 1964 (affectionately known as "Queen Mother Amelia"), best known for her role in the "Bloody Sunday" event in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965
Roscoe Simmons 1899 columnist for the Chicago Tribune
William A. Campbell 1937 a member of the Tuskegee Airmen who rose to the rank of Colonel
Charles William Carpenter 1909 Baptist minister and civil rights activist
Carl Henry Clerk 1925 Gold Coast educator, administrator, journalist, editor, Presbyterian minister and fourth Synod Clerk, Presbyterian Church of the Gold Coast
Alice Marie Coachman 1942 athlete who specialized in high jump, and was the first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal
The Commodores 70s R&B band whose members met while attending Tuskegee
George Williamson Crawford lawyer and city official in New Haven, Connecticut [37]
Leon Crenshaw former NFL player
General Oliver W. Dillard retired Army major general, Silver Star recipient in Korea – 1950
Ralph Ellison scholar, author of Invisible Man
Milton C. Davis 1971 lawyer who researched and advocated for the pardon of Clarence Norris, the last surviving Scottsboro Boy
Cecile Hoover Edwards B.A. 1946, M.A. 1947 Nutritional researcher and government consultant [38]
Chauncey Eskridge 1939 lawyer for Martin Luther King Jr. and Muhammad Ali [39]
Vera King Farris 1959 President of Richard Stockton College of New Jersey from 1983–2003 [40]
Isaac Fisher educator, taught at Hampton University and Fisk University
Drayton Florence NFL defensive back
Lovett Fort-Whiteman political activist and Comintern functionary [41]
Manet Harrison Fowler 1913 singer, founder of Mwalimu School in Harlem, president of Texas Association of Negro Musicians
Alexander N. Green U.S. Representative from Texas's 9th congressional district
Alexander N. Green U.S. Representative from Texas's 9th congressional district
Winston C. Hackett First African-American physician in Arizona [42][43]
Ken Howell 1982 former Major League Baseball pitcher
Marvalene Hughes president of Dillard University
General Daniel "Chappie" James 1942 US Air Force Fighter pilot, in 1975 became the first African American to reach the rank of four-star General
Lonnie Johnson (inventor) inventor of the Super Soaker, former NASA aerospace engineer
Ken Jordan former NFL player
Tom Joyner 1971 radio host whose daily program, The Tom Joyner Morning Show, is syndicated across the United States and heard by over 10 million radio listeners.
John A. Lankford 20th century architect
Marion Mann 1940 former dean of the College of Medicine at Howard University and US Army Brigadier General (retired)
Claude McKay 1912 Jamaican writer and poet, Harlem Renaissance
Albert Murray 1939 literary and jazz critic, novelist, and biographer
Ray Nagin 1978 former mayor of New Orleans, Louisiana
Dimitri Patterson NFL player
Dr. Ptolemy A. Reid 1955 Prime Minister of Guyana (1980–1984)
Rich Boy Rapper
Lionel Richie R&B singer, Grammy Award winner
Lawrence E. Roberts a member of the Tuskegee Airmen and a colonel in The United States Air Force
John Robinson (aviator) early aviator and colonel in the Imperial Ethiopian Air Force against Fascist Italy during WWII
George C. Royal 1943 microbiologist who is currently professor emeritus at Howard University
Roderick Royal president of the Birmingham City Council
Betty Shabazz wife of Malcolm X
Jake Simmons Jr. 1919 oil broker and civil rights advocate
Danielle Spencer television actress best known as Dee from the 1970s TV show What's Happening!!
McCants Stewart 1896 lawyer, first African American to practice law in Oregon
Frank Walker NFL defensive back
Keenen Ivory Wayans actor, comedian, and television producer
Alfreda Johnson Webb 1943 First African-American woman in the North Carolina General Assembly (1972) [44]
Jack Whitten abstract painter
Dr. David Wilson president of Morgan State University
Roosevelt Williams (gridiron football) 2000 former NFL player for the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets
Ken Woodard former NFL player
Elizabeth Evelyn Wright educator and humanitarian, founder of Voorhees College
Marilyn Mosby 2002 State's Attorney in Baltimore, MD

See also


  1. ^ NAICU – Member Directory Archived 2015-11-09 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2018-05-27. Retrieved 2018-05-26.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ Visual identity and COmmunications Policies for Tuskegee University (PDF). 2012-08-01. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-04-05. Retrieved 2016-09-07.
  4. ^ "First African-American landscape architect launched career at Cornell". Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 2019-01-23.
  5. ^ Thomas, Grace Powers (1898). Where to educate, 1898–1899. A guide to the best private schools, higher institutions of learning, etc., in the United States. Boston: Brown and Company. p. 5. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  6. ^ Washington, Booker (1995). Up From Slavery. Dover. p. 127.
  7. ^ "Olivia Davidson Washington." Notable Black American Women. Gale, 1992. Biography In Context. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.
  8. ^ Guridy, Frank. Forging Diaspora: Afro-Cubans and African Americans in a World of Empire and Jim Crow. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.
  9. ^ Dominguez, Alex (2006-05-06). "Booker T. Washington's Death Revisited". Washington Post. Associated Press. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-04-05.
  10. ^ Andrew E. Barnes, Global Christianity and the Black Atlantic: Tuskegee, Colonialism, and the Shaping of African Industrial Education (Baylor University Press, 2017).
  11. ^ "The Tuskegee Airmen and Eleanor Roosevelt". Archived from the original on 2008-06-25. Retrieved 2008-06-26.
  12. ^ "Ross University School of Medicine and Tuskegee partner to address physician diversity in the U.S." Tuskeegee University. Retrieved 1 July 2019.
  13. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  14. ^ a b "Tuskegee Institute". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2008-02-18. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  15. ^ a b Horace J. Sheely, Jr. (1965-03-01) National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings: Tuskegee Institute, National Park Service and Accompanying 20 or so photos, undated.
  16. ^ "Honors Program – Tuskegee University". Archived from the original on 2016-04-16. Retrieved 2016-04-03.
  17. ^ https://www.tuskegee.edu/news/ross-university-school-of-medicine-and-tuskegee-partner-to-address-physician-diversity-in-the-us
  18. ^ http://hbculifestyle.com/hbcu-rankings-2017-top-25/
  19. ^ "Best Regional Colleges USNWR". Colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
  20. ^ Doss, Natalie (2010-12-15). "Best Colleges for Women and Minorities in STEM". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
  21. ^ "CAENS | Tuskegee University". Tuskegee.edu. 2011-07-01. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  22. ^ "CLAE | Tuskegee University". Tuskegee.edu. 2011-07-01. Archived from the original on 2016-03-01. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  23. ^ "CBIS | Tuskegee University". Tuskegee.edu. 2011-07-01. Archived from the original on 2016-02-15. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  24. ^ "CEAPS | Tuskegee University". Tuskegee.edu. 2011-07-01. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  25. ^ "CVMNAH | Tuskegee University". Tuskegee.edu. 2011-07-01. Archived from the original on 2016-02-19. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  26. ^ "Robert R. Taylor School of Architecture and Construction Science | Tuskegee University". Tuskegee.edu. 2011-07-01. Archived from the original on 2016-02-27. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  27. ^ "School of Education | Tuskegee University". Tuskegee.edu. 2011-07-01. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-02-18.
  28. ^ "SONAH | Tuskegee University". www.tuskegee.edu. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  29. ^ "Center for Bioethics in Research and Health Care". Archived from the original on 2009-02-12. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  30. ^ "2013 NATIONAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL ATTENDANCE" (PDF). Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  31. ^ Tricard, Louise Mead (1996). American Women's Track and Field – A History, 1895 through 1980. Jefferson, North Carolina, U.S.: McFarland & Co., Inc.
  32. ^ "Barbour, Joseph Pius". www.kinginstitute.stanford.edu. Retrieved 11 July 2018.
  33. ^ Alexander, Adele Logan. "Roberts, Ruth Logan". Religion and Community. Facts On File, 1997. African-American History Online. Retrieved 6 February 2016. Sourced from Hine, Darlene Clark; Thompson, Kathleen, eds. (1997). Facts on File encyclopedia of Black women in America. New York, NY: Facts on File. ISBN 9780816034246. OCLC 906768602.
  34. ^ "Dr. Andrew Torrence, 3rd TSU President, Dies". The Tennessean. June 12, 1980. pp. 6, 18 – via Newspapers.com.
  35. ^ "Tuskegee University". tuskegee.edu. Archived from the original on 2009-08-20.
  36. ^ Penn. The Afro-American Press and Its Editors, 1891, pp.393–396 Retrieved December 4, 2013
  37. ^ "George W. Crawford Black Bar Association". Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  38. ^ Warren, Wini (1999). Black Women Scientists in the United States. Indiana University Press. pp. 88–92. ISBN 0253336031.
  39. ^ Heise, Kenan (January 19, 1988). "Chuancey Eskridge, 70, close ally of Rev. King". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 4 July 2019.
  40. ^ "Vera King Farris, Stockton college's longest-serving president, dies after short illness – pressofAtlanticCity.com: Education". pressofAtlanticCity.com. 2009-11-29. Retrieved 2012-03-01.
  41. ^ Tim Tzouliadis, The Forsaken: An American Tragedy in Stalin's Russia. New York: Penguin Press, 2008; pg. 98.
  42. ^ "Airzona Informant". Archived from the original on 2017-09-25. Retrieved 2017-12-30.
  43. ^ Color Blind Care
  44. ^ Hairston, Otis L. Greensboro North Carolina. Arcadia Publishing, 2003.

Further reading

  • Tim Brooks, Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1890-1919, 320-327. University of Illinois Press, 2004. Early recordings by the Tuskegee Institute Singers.

External links

3 July 1844

The last pair of great auks is killed.

Great auk

Great auk
Temporal range: 5–0.0001 Ma
early Pliocene – Late Holocene[1]
A large, stuffed bird with a black back, white belly, heavy bill, and white eye patch stands, amongst display cases and an orange wall
Specimen No. 8 and replica egg in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Extinct  (1852) (IUCN 3.1)[2]
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Alcidae
Genus: Pinguinus
Bonnaterre, 1791
P. impennis
Binomial name
Pinguinus impennis
A map showing the range of the great auk, with the coasts of North America and Europe forming two boundaries, a line stretching from New England to northern Portugal the southern boundary, and the northern boundary wrapping around the southern shore of Greenland
Approximate range (in blue) with known breeding sites indicated by yellow marks[3][4]

The great auk (Pinguinus impennis) is an extinct species of flightless alcid that became extinct in the mid-19th century. It was the only modern species in the genus Pinguinus. It is not closely related to the birds now known as penguins, which were discovered later and so named by sailors because of their physical resemblance to the great auk.

It bred on rocky, isolated islands with easy access to the ocean and a plentiful food supply, a rarity in nature that provided only a few breeding sites for the great auks. When not breeding, they spent their time foraging in the waters of the North Atlantic, ranging as far south as northern Spain and along the coastlines of Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Ireland, and Great Britain.

The great auk was 75 to 85 cm (30 to 33 in) tall and weighed about 5 kg (11 lb), making it the largest alcid to survive into the modern era, and the second-largest member of the alcid family overall (the prehistoric Miomancalla was larger).[5] It had a black back and a white belly. The black beak was heavy and hooked, with grooves on its surface. During summer, great auk plumage showed a white patch over each eye. During winter, the great auk lost these patches, instead developing a white band stretching between the eyes. The wings were only 15 cm (5.9 in) long, rendering the bird flightless. Instead, the great auk was a powerful swimmer, a trait that it used in hunting. Its favourite prey were fish, including Atlantic menhaden and capelin, and crustaceans. Although agile in the water, it was clumsy on land. Great auk pairs mated for life. They nested in extremely dense and social colonies, laying one egg on bare rock. The egg was white with variable brown marbling. Both parents participated in the incubation of the egg for around 6 weeks before the young hatched. The young left the nest site after 2–3 weeks, although the parents continued to care for it.

The great auk was an important part of many Native American cultures, both as a food source and as a symbolic item. Many Maritime Archaic people were buried with great auk bones. One burial discovered included someone covered by more than 200 great auk beaks, which are presumed to be the remnants of a cloak made of great auk skins. Early European explorers to the Americas used the great auk as a convenient food source or as fishing bait, reducing its numbers. The bird's down was in high demand in Europe, a factor that largely eliminated the European populations by the mid-16th century. Scientists soon began to realize that the great auk was disappearing and it became the beneficiary of many early environmental laws, but this proved ineffectual.

Its growing rarity increased interest from European museums and private collectors in obtaining skins and eggs of the bird. On 3 June 1844, the last two confirmed specimens were killed on Eldey, off the coast of Iceland, ending the last known breeding attempt. Later reports of roaming individuals being seen or caught are unconfirmed. A record of one great auk in 1852 is considered by some to be the last sighting of a member of the species. The great auk is mentioned in several novels and the scientific journal of the American Ornithologists' Union is named The Auk in honour of this bird.

Taxonomy and evolution

Fossil humerus of the Miocene relative Pinguinus alfrednewtoni

Analysis of mtDNA sequences has confirmed morphological and biogeographical studies suggesting that the razorbill is the closest living relative of the great auk.[6] The great auk also was related closely to the little auk (dovekie), which underwent a radically different evolution compared to Pinguinus. Due to its outward similarity to the razorbill (apart from flightlessness and size), the great auk often was placed in the genus Alca, following Linnaeus.

The fossil record (especially the sister species, Pinguinus alfrednewtoni) and molecular evidence show that the three closely related genera diverged soon after their common ancestor, a bird probably similar to a stout Xantus's murrelet, had spread to the coasts of the Atlantic. Apparently, by that time, the murres, or Atlantic guillemots, already had split from the other Atlantic alcids. Razorbill-like birds were common in the Atlantic during the Pliocene, but the evolution of the little auk is sparsely documented.[6] The molecular data are compatible with either possibility, but the weight of evidence suggests placing the great auk in a distinct genus.[6] Some ornithologists still believe it is more appropriate to retain the species in the genus Alca.[7] It is the only recorded British bird made extinct in historic times.[8]

Turnaround video of Specimen No. 57 and a razorbill, Naturalis Biodiversity Center

The following cladogram shows the placement of the great auk among its closest relatives, based on a 2004 genetic study:[9]

Alle alle (little auk)

Uria aalge (common murre)

Uria lomvia (thick-billed murre)

Alca torda (razorbill)

Pinguinus impennis (great auk)

Brachyramphus marmoratus (marbled murrelet)

Brachyramphus brevirostris (Kittlitz's murrelet)

Cepphus grylle (black guillemot)

Cepphus columba (pigeon guillemot)

Cepphus carbo (spectacled guillemot)

Pinguinus alfrednewtoni was a larger, and also flightless, member of the genus Pinguinus that lived during the Early Pliocene.[10] Known from bones found in the Yorktown Formation of the Lee Creek Mine in North Carolina, it is believed to have split, along with the great auk, from a common ancestor. Pinguinus alfrednewtoni lived in the western Atlantic, while the great auk lived in the eastern Atlantic. After the former died out following the Pliocene, the great auk took over its territory.[10] The great auk was not related closely to the other extinct genera of flightless alcids, Mancalla, Praemancalla, and Alcodes.[11]


The "Great Auk, Northern Penguin, or Gair-Fowl", wood engraving by Thomas Bewick in A History of British Birds, 1804 [a]

The great auk was one of the 4,400 animal species formally described by Carl Linnaeus in his eighteenth-century work, Systema Naturae, in which it was given the binomial Alca impennis.[13] The name Alca is a Latin derivative of the Scandinavian word for razorbills and their relatives.[14] The bird was known in literature even before this and was described by Charles d'Ecluse in 1605 as Mergus Americanus. This also included a woodcut which represents the oldest unambiguous visual depictions of the bird.[15]

The species was not placed in its own scientific genus, Pinguinus, until 1791.[16] The generic name is derived from the Spanish and Portuguese name for the species, in turn from Latin pinguis meaning 'plump', and the specific name, impennis, is from Latin and refers to the lack of flight feathers or pennae.[14]

The Irish name for the great auk is 'falcóg mhór', meaning 'big seabird/auk'. The Basque name is arponaz, meaning "spearbill". Its early French name was apponatz. The Norse called the great auk, geirfugl, which means "spearbird". This has led to an alternative English common name for the bird, "garefowl" or "gairfowl".[17] The Inuit name for the great auk was isarukitsok, which meant "little wing".[18]

The word "penguin" first appears in the sixteenth century as a synonym for "great auk".[19] Although the etymology is debated, the generic name, "penguin", may be derived from the Welsh pen gwyn "white head", either because the birds lived in Newfoundland on White Head Island (Pen Gwyn in Welsh), or, because the great auk had such large white circles on its head. When European explorers discovered what today are known as penguins in the Southern Hemisphere, they noticed their similar appearance to the great auk and named them after this bird, although biologically, they are not closely related.[20] Whalers also lumped the northern and southern birds together under the common name "woggins".[21]


A large bird with a black back, white belly, and white eye patch stands on a rock by the ocean, as a similar bird with a white stripe instead of an eyepatch swims.
Summer (standing) and winter (swimming) plumage, by John Gerrard Keulemans

Standing about 75 to 85 centimetres (30 to 33 in) tall and weighing approximately 5 kilograms (11 lb) as adult birds,[22] the flightless great auk was the second-largest member of both its family and the order Charadriiformes overall, surpassed only by the mancalline Miomancalla. It is, however, the largest species to survive into modern times. The great auks that lived farther north averaged larger in size than the more southerly members of the species.[11] Males and females were similar in plumage, although there is evidence for differences in size, particularly in the bill and femur length.[23][24][25] The back was primarily a glossy black, and the belly was white. The neck and legs were short, and the head and wings small.[26] The great auk appeared chubby due to a thick layer of fat necessary for warmth.[27] During summer, it developed a wide white eye patch over each eye, which had a hazel or chestnut iris.[28][29] During winter the great auk moulted and lost this eye patch, which was replaced with a wide white band and a gray line of feathers that stretched from the eye to the ear.[23] During the summer, the its chin and throat were blackish-brown and the inside of the mouth was yellow.[24] In winter, the throat became white.[23] Some individuals reportedly had grey plumage on their flanks, but the purpose, seasonal duration, and frequency of this variation is unknown.[30] The bill was large at 11 centimetres (4.3 in) long and curved downward at the top;[27] the bill also had deep white grooves in both the upper and lower mandibles, up to seven on the upper mandible and twelve on the lower mandible in summer, although there were fewer in winter.[31][32] The wings were only 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length and the longest wing feathers were only 10 centimetres (3.9 in) long.[27] Its feet and short claws were black, while the webbed skin between the toes was brownish black.[32] The legs were far back on the bird's body, which gave it powerful swimming and diving abilities.[33]

A large, elongate egg is sketched, primarily white with brown streaks condensing closer to the larger end.
Paintings showing variation in egg markings, as well as seasonal and ontogenic differences in plumage

Hatchlings were described as grey and downy, but their exact appearance is unknown, since no skins exist today.[32] Juvenile birds had fewer prominent grooves in their beaks than adults and they had mottled white and black necks,[34] while the eye spot found in adults was not present; instead, a grey line ran through the eyes (which still had white eye rings) to just below the ears.[24]

Great Auk calls included low croaking and a hoarse scream. A captive great auk was observed making a gurgling noise when anxious. It is not known what its other vocalizations were, but it is believed that they were similar to those of the razorbill, only louder and deeper.[35]

Distribution and habitat

A large, triangular rock rises from the misty waters, with more islands behind and northern gannets flying around it.
Stac an Armin, St. Kilda, Scotland, one locality where the great auk used to breed

The great auk was found in the cold North Atlantic coastal waters along the coasts of Canada, the northeastern United States, Norway, Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Ireland, Great Britain, France, and the Iberian Peninsula.[36][37] Pleistocene fossils indicate the great auk also inhabited Southern France, Italy, and other coasts of the Mediterranean basin.[18][38]

The great auk left the North Atlantic waters for land only to breed, even roosting at sea when not breeding.[31][39] The rookeries of the great auk were found from Baffin Bay to the Gulf of St. Lawrence, across the far northern Atlantic, including Iceland, and in Norway and the British Isles in Europe.[31][40][41] For their nesting colonies the great auks required rocky islands with sloping shorelines that provided access to the sea.[33] These were very limiting requirements and it is believed that the great auk never had more than 20 breeding colonies.[33] The nesting sites also needed to be close to rich feeding areas and to be far enough from the mainland to discourage visitation by predators such as humans and polar bears.[42] The localities of only seven former breeding colonies are known: Papa Westray in the Orkney Islands, St. Kilda off Scotland, Grimsey Island, Eldey Island, Geirfuglasker near Iceland, Funk Island near Newfoundland,[43] and the Bird Rocks (Rochers-aux-Oiseaux) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.[33] Records suggest that this species may have bred on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.[33] By the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the breeding range of the great auk was restricted to Funk Island, Grimsey Island, Eldey Island, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and St. Kilda Island.[40] Funk Island was the largest known breeding colony.[44] After the chicks fledged, the great auk migrated north and south away from the breeding colonies and they tended to go southward during late autumn and winter.[45]

It also was common on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland.[42] In recorded history, the great auk typically did not go farther south than Massachusetts Bay in the winter.[45] Archeological excavations have found great auk remains in New England and Southern Spain. Great auk bones have been found as far south as Florida, where it may have been present during four periods: approximately 1000 BC and 1000 AD, as well as, during the fifteenth century and the seventeenth century.[46][47] (It has been suggested that some of the bones discovered in Florida may be the result of aboriginal trading.)[45] Pleistocene fossils indicate the great auk also inhabited Southern France, Italy, and other coasts of the Mediterranean basin.[18][38]

Ecology and behaviour

Two summer great auks, one swimming and facing right while another stands upon a rock looking left, are surrounded by steep, rocky cliffs.
Great Auks by John James Audubon, from The Birds of America (1827–1838)

The great auk was never observed and described by modern scientists during its existence and is only known from the accounts of laymen, such as sailors, so its behaviour is not well known and difficult to reconstruct. Much may be inferred from its close, living relative, the razorbill, as well as from remaining soft tissue.[7]

Great auks walked slowly and sometimes used their wings to help them traverse rough terrain.[34] When they did run, it was awkwardly and with short steps in a straight line.[39] They had few natural predators, mainly large marine mammals, such as the orca and white-tailed eagles.[39] Polar bears preyed on nesting colonies of the great auk.[48] Reportedly, this species had no innate fear of human beings, and their flightlessness and awkwardness on land compounded their vulnerability. Humans preyed upon them as food, for feathers, and as specimens for museums and private collections.[2] Great auks reacted to noises, but were rarely frightened by the sight of something.[49] They used their bills aggressively both in the dense nesting sites and when threatened or captured by humans.[39] These birds are believed to have had a life span of approximately 20 to 25 years.[50] During the winter, the great auk migrated south, either in pairs or in small groups, but never with the entire nesting colony.[51]

The great auk was generally an excellent swimmer, using its wings to propel itself underwater.[34] While swimming, the head was held up but the neck was drawn in.[39] This species was capable of banking, veering, and turning underwater.[51] The great auk was known to dive to depths of 76 metres (249 ft) and it has been claimed that the species was able to dive to depths of 1 kilometre (3,300 ft).[52] To conserve energy, most dives were shallow.[53] It also could hold its breath for 15 minutes, longer than a seal.[51] Its ability to dive this deeply reduced competition with other alcid species. The great auk was capable of accelerating underwater, then shooting out of the water to land on a rocky ledge above the ocean's surface.[51]


A summer great auk tilts its head back, swallowing a fish.
Great auk eating a fish, by John Gould

This alcid typically fed in shoaling waters that were shallower than those frequented by other alcids,[53] although after the breeding season, they had been sighted as far as 500 kilometres (310 mi) from land.[53] They are believed to have fed cooperatively in flocks.[53] Their main food was fish, usually 12 to 20 centimetres (4.7 to 7.9 in) in length and weighing 40 to 50 grams (1.4 to 1.8 oz), but occasionally their prey was up to half the bird's own length. Based on remains associated with great auk bones found on Funk Island and on ecological and morphological considerations, it seems that Atlantic menhaden and capelin were their favoured prey.[54] Other fish suggested as potential prey include lumpsuckers, shorthorn sculpins, cod, sand lance, as well as crustaceans.[52][53] The young of the great auk are believed to have eaten plankton and, possibly, fish and crustaceans regurgitated by adults.[44][50]


Nesting ground with juveniles and eggs, by Keulemans

Historical descriptions of the great auk breeding behaviour are somewhat unreliable.[55] Great Auks began pairing in early and mid-May.[56] They are believed to have mated for life (although some theorize that great auks could have mated outside their pair, a trait seen in the razorbill).[39][50] Once paired, they nested at the base of cliffs in colonies, likely where they copulated.[27][39] Mated pairs had a social display in which they bobbed their heads and displayed their white eye patch, bill markings, and yellow mouth.[39] These colonies were extremely crowded and dense, with some estimates stating that there was a nesting great auk for every 1 square metre (11 sq ft) of land.[39] These colonies were very social.[39] When the colonies included other species of alcid, the great auks were dominant due to their size.[39]

Cast of an egg, Museum Wiesbaden

Female great auks would lay only one egg each year, between late May and early June, although they could lay a replacement egg if the first one was lost.[51][56] In years when there was a shortage of food, the great auks did not breed.[57] A single egg was laid on bare ground up to 100 metres (330 ft) from shore.[34][58] The egg was ovate and elongate in shape, and it averaged 12.4 centimetres (4.9 in) in length and 7.6 centimetres (3.0 in) across at the widest point.[16][48] The egg was yellowish white to light ochre with a varying pattern of black, brown, or greyish spots and lines that often were congregated on the large end.[34][59] It is believed that the variation in the egg streaks enabled the parents to recognize their egg among those in the vast colony.[56] The pair took turns incubating the egg in an upright position for the 39 to 44 days before the egg hatched, typically in June, although eggs could be present at the colonies as late as August.[48][56]

The parents also took turns feeding their chick. According to one account, the chick was covered with grey down.[50] The young bird took only two or three weeks to mature enough to abandon the nest and land for the water, typically around the middle of July.[48][56] The parents cared for their young after they fledged, and adults would be seen swimming with their young perched on their backs.[56] Great auks matured sexually when they were four to seven years old.[57]

Relationship with humans

A sketch of four bones of the great auk, all long. The first two on the left are shorter and hook and fatten at the end, while the third is straight. The fourth has a nub on both ends.
Illustration of two humeri (1) and two tibiae (2), bones of the great auk uncovered by archaeologists in an ancient kitchen midden in Caithness

The great auk was a food source for Neanderthals more than 100,000 years ago, as evidenced by well-cleaned bones found by their campfires.[36] Images believed to depict the great auk also were carved into the walls of the in Camargo, Spain, and Paglicci, Italy, more than 35,000 years ago,[60] and cave paintings 20,000 years old have been found in France's Grotte Cosquer.[18][15]

Native Americans valued the great auk as a food source during the winter and as an important cultural symbol. Images of the great auk have been found in bone necklaces.[61] A person buried at the Maritime Archaic site at Port au Choix, Newfoundland, dating to about 2000 BC, was found surrounded by more than 200 great auk beaks, which are believed to have been part of a suit made from their skins, with the heads left attached as decoration.[62] Nearly half of the bird bones found in graves at this site were of the great auk, suggesting that it had great cultural significance for the Maritime Archaic people.[63] The extinct Beothuks of Newfoundland made pudding out of the eggs of the great auk.[50] The Dorset Eskimos also hunted it. The Saqqaq in Greenland overhunted the species, causing a local reduction in range.[63]

The only known illustration of a great auk drawn from life, Ole Worm's pet, received from the Faroe Islands, 1655

Later, European sailors used the great auks as a navigational beacon, as the presence of these birds signalled that the Grand Banks of Newfoundland were near.[18]

This species is estimated to have had a maximum population in the millions.[50] The great auk was hunted on a significant scale for food, eggs, and its down feathers from at least the eighth century. Prior to that, hunting by local natives may be documented from Late Stone Age Scandinavia and eastern North America,[64] as well as from early fifth century Labrador, where the bird seems to have occurred only as stragglers.[65] Early explorers, including Jacques Cartier, and numerous ships attempting to find gold on Baffin Island were not provisioned with food for the journey home, and therefore, used this vulnerable species as both a convenient food source and bait for fishing.[66] Reportedly, some of the later vessels anchored next to a colony and ran out planks to the land. The sailors then herded hundreds of these great auks onto the ships, where they were slaughtered.[67] Some authors have questioned the reports of this hunting method and whether it was successful.[63] Great auk eggs were also a valued food source, as the eggs were three times the size of a murre's and had a large yolk.[63] These sailors also introduced rats onto the islands,[59] that preyed upon nests.


The Little Ice Age may have reduced the population of the great auk by exposing more of their breeding islands to predation by polar bears, but massive exploitation by humans for their down drastically reduced the population.[57] By the mid-sixteenth century, the nesting colonies along the European side of the Atlantic were nearly all eliminated by humans killing this bird for its down, which was used to make pillows.[68] In 1553, the great auk received its first official protection, and in 1794 Great Britain banned the killing of this species for its feathers.[69] In St. John's, those violating a 1775 law banning hunting the great auk for its feathers or eggs were publicly flogged, though hunting for use as fishing bait was still permitted.[63] On the North American side, eider down initially was preferred, but once the eiders were nearly driven to extinction in the 1770s, down collectors switched to the great auk at the same time that hunting for food, fishing bait, and oil decreased.[63][70]

The great auk had disappeared from Funk Island by 1800. An account by Aaron Thomas of HMS Boston from 1794 described how the bird had been slaughtered systematically until then:

If you come for their Feathers you do not give yourself the trouble of killing them, but lay hold of one and pluck the best of the Feathers. You then turn the poor Penguin adrift, with his skin half naked and torn off, to perish at his leasure. This is not a very humane method but it is the common practize. While you abide on this island you are in the constant practize of horrid cruelties for you not only skin them Alive, but you burn them Alive also to cook their Bodies with. You take a kettle with you into which you put a Penguin or two, you kindle a fire under it, and this fire is absolutely made of the unfortunate Penguins themselves. Their bodies being oily soon produce a Flame; there is no wood on the island.[7]

Eldey, last refuge of the great auk

With its increasing rarity, specimens of the great auk and its eggs became collectible and highly prized by rich Europeans, and the loss of a large number of its eggs to collection contributed to the demise of the species. Eggers, individuals who visited the nesting sites of the great auk to collect their eggs, quickly realized that the birds did not all lay their eggs on the same day, so they could make return visits to the same breeding colony. Eggers only collected the eggs without embryos and typically, discarded the eggs with embryos growing inside of them.[48]

On the islet of Stac an Armin, St. Kilda, Scotland, in July 1840, the last great auk seen in Britain was caught and killed.[71] Three men from St. Kilda caught a single "garefowl", noticing its little wings and the large white spot on its head. They tied it up and kept it alive for three days, until a large storm arose. Believing that the bird was a witch and was causing the storm, they then killed it by beating it with a stick.[7][72]

Specimen No. 3 in Brussels, one of the two last birds killed on Eldey in 1844

The last colony of great auks lived on Geirfuglasker (the "Great Auk Rock") off Iceland. This islet was a volcanic rock surrounded by cliffs that made it inaccessible to humans, but in 1830, the islet submerged after a volcanic eruption, and the birds moved to the nearby island of Eldey, which was accessible from a single side. When the colony initially was discovered in 1835, nearly fifty birds were present. Museums, desiring the skins of the great auk for preservation and display, quickly began collecting birds from the colony.[73] The last pair, found incubating an egg, was killed there on 3 June 1844, on request from a merchant who wanted specimens, with Jón Brandsson and Sigurður Ísleifsson strangling the adults and Ketill Ketilsson smashing the egg with his boot.[74][b]

Great Auk specialist John Wolley interviewed the two men who killed the last birds,[77] and Sigurður described the act as follows:

The rocks were covered with blackbirds [referring to Guillemots] and there were the Geirfugles ... They walked slowly. Jón Brandsson crept up with his arms open. The bird that Jón got went into a corner but [mine] was going to the edge of the cliff. It walked like a man ... but moved its feet quickly. [I] caught it close to the edge – a precipice many fathoms deep. Its wings lay close to the sides – not hanging out. I took him by the neck and he flapped his wings. He made no cry. I strangled him.[78]

A later claim of a live individual sighted in 1852 on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland has been accepted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).[2]

There is an ongoing discussion on the internet about the possibilities for recreating the Great Auk using its DNA from specimens collected. This possibility is the subject of concern to science.[79]

Preserved specimens

Specimen No. 39, skeleton, and replica egg at Senckenberg Museum

Today, 78 skins of the great auk remain, mostly in museum collections, along with approximately 75 eggs and 24 complete skeletons. All but four of the surviving skins are in summer plumage, and only two of these are immature. No hatchling specimens exist. Each egg and skin has been assigned a number by specialists.[7] Although thousands of isolated bones were collected from nineteenth century Funk Island to Neolithic middens, only a few complete skeletons exist.[80] Natural mummies also are known from Funk Island, and the eyes and internal organs of the last two birds from 1844 are stored in the Zoological Museum, Copenhagen. The whereabouts of the skins from the last two individuals has been unknown for more than a hundred years, but that mystery has been partly resolved using DNA extracted from the organs of the last individuals and the skins of the candidate specimens suggested by Errol Fuller[7] (those in Übersee-Museum Bremen, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Zoological Museum of Kiel University, Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, and Landesmuseum Natur und Mensch Oldenburg). A positive match was found between the organs from the male individual and the skin now in the RBINS in Brussels. No match was found between the female organs and a specimen from Fuller's list, but authors speculate that the skin in Cincinnati Museum of Natural History and Science may be a potential candidate due to a common history with the L.A. specimen.[81]

Internal organs of the last two great auks, Zoological Museum of Copenhagen

Following the bird's extinction, remains of the great auk increased dramatically in value, and auctions of specimens created intense interest in Victorian Britain, where 15 specimens are now located, the largest number of any country.[7] A specimen was bought in 1971 by the Icelandic Museum of National History for £9000, which placed it in the Guinness Book of Records as the most expensive stuffed bird ever sold.[82] The price of its eggs sometimes reached up to 11 times the amount earned by a skilled worker in a year.[83] The present whereabouts of six of the eggs are unknown. Several other eggs have been destroyed accidentally. Two mounted skins were destroyed in the twentieth century, one in the Mainz Museum during the Second World War, and one in the Museu Bocage, Lisbon that was destroyed by a fire in 1978.[7]

Cultural depictions

Children's books

The great auk is one of the more frequently referenced extinct birds in literature, much as the famous dodo. It appears in many works of children's literature.

Charles Kingsley's The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby depicts a great auk telling the tale of the extinction of its species.[84]

Enid Blyton's The Island of Adventure[85] features the bird's extinction, sending the protagonist on a failed search for what he believes is a lost colony of the species.

Monument to the last British great auk at Fowl Craig, Orkney


The great auk also is present in a wide variety of other works of fiction.

In the short story The Harbor-Master by Robert W. Chambers, the discovery and attempted recovery of the last known pair of great auks is central to the plot (which also involves a proto-Lovecraftian element of suspense). The story first appeared in Ainslee's Magazine (August 1889) and was slightly revised to become the first five chapters of Chambers' episodic novel In Search of the Unknown, (Harper and Brothers Publishers, New York, 1904).

In his novel Ulysses, James Joyce mentions the bird while the novel's main character is drifting into sleep. He associates the great auk with the mythical roc as a method of formally returning the main character to a sleepy land of fantasy and memory.[86]

Penguin Island, a 1908 French satirical novel by the Nobel Prize winning author Anatole France, narrates the fictional history of a great auk population that is mistakenly baptized by a nearsighted missionary.[87]

A great auk is collected by fictional naturalist Stephen Maturin in the Patrick O'Brian historical novel The Surgeon's Mate. This work also details the harvesting of a colony of auks.[88]

The great auk is the subject of The Last Great Auk, a novel by Allen Eckert, which tells of the events leading to the extinction of the great auk as seen from the perspective of the last one alive. It appears also in Farley Mowat's Sea of Slaughter.[89]

Ogden Nash warns that humans could suffer the same fate as the great auk in his short poem "A Caution to Everybody".

W.S. Merwin mentions the Great Auk in a short litany of extinct animals in his poem "For a Coming Extinction," one of the seminal poems from his 1967 collection, "The Lice".[90]

Night of the Auk, a 1956 Broadway drama by Arch Oboler, depicts a group of astronauts returning from the moon to discover that a full-blown nuclear war has broken out. Obeler draws a parallel between the human-caused extinction of the Great Auk and of the story's nuclear extinction of humankind.[91]

Audio drama

The Doctor Who audio drama 'Last Chance', produced by Big Finish Productions, depicts the killing of the final breeding pair in 1844.

Performing arts

This bird also is featured in a variety of other media.

It is the subject of a ballet, Still Life at the Penguin Café,[92] and a song, "A Dream Too Far", in the ecological musical Rockford's Rock Opera.[93]

A great auk appears as a prized possession of Baba the Turk in Igor Stravinsky's opera The Rake's Progress (libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman).


The great auk is the mascot of the Archmere Academy in Claymont, Delaware,[94] and the Adelaide University Choral Society (AUCS) in Australia.[95]

The great auk was formerly the mascot of the Lindsay Frost campus of Sir Sandford Fleming College in Ontario.[96] In 2012, the two separate sports programs of Fleming College were combined[97] and the great auk mascot went extinct. The Lindsay Frost campus student owned bar, student center, and lounge is still known as the Auk's Lodge.[98]

It was also the mascot of the now ended Knowledge Masters educational competition.[99][100]


The scientific journal of the American Ornithologists' Union is named The Auk in honour of this bird.[83]

According to Homer Hickam's memoir, Rocket Boys, and its film production, October Sky, the early rockets he and his friends built, ironically were named "Auk".[101]

A cigarette company, the British Great Auk Cigarettes, was named after this bird.[83]

Fine arts

Walton Ford, the American painter, has featured great auks in two paintings: "The Witch of St. Kilda" and "Funk Island".[102]

The English painter and writer Errol Fuller produced "Last Stand" for his monograph on the species.[7]

The great auk also appeared on one stamp in a set of five depicting extinct birds issued by Cuba in 1974.[103]

See also


  1. ^ Bewick stated "This species is not numerous any where: it inhabits Norway, Iceland, The Ferro Islands, Greenland, and other cold regions of the north, but is seldom seen on the British shores."[12]
  2. ^ A date of 3 July 1844 is given by various online sources,[75][76] but does not accord with the original publication and print sources.


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  3. ^ Grieve, Symington (1885). The Great Auk, or Garefowl: Its history, archaeology, and remains. Thomas C. Jack, London.
  4. ^ Parkin, Thomas (1894). The Great Auk, or Garefowl. J.E. Budd, Printer. Retrieved 14 May 2010.
  5. ^ Smith, N. 2015. Evolution of body mass in the Pan-Alcidae (Aves, Charadriiformes): the effects of combining neontological and paleontological data. Paleobiology. doi: 10.1017/pab.2015.24
  6. ^ a b c Moum, Truls; Arnason, Ulfur; Árnason, Einar (2002). "Mitochondrial DNA sequence evolution and phylogeny of the Atlantic Alcidae, including the extinct Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis)" (PDF). Molecular Biology and Evolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 19 (9): 1434–1439. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a004206. PMID 12200471. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
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Cited texts

  • Cokinos, Christopher (2000). Hope is the Thing with Feathers: A Personal Chronicle of Vanished Birds. New York: Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67749-3.
  • Crofford, Emily (1989). Gone Forever: The Great Auk. New York: Crestwood House. ISBN 0-89686-459-6.
  • Fuller, Errol (1999). The Great Auk. Southborough, Kent, UK: Privately Published. ISBN 0-9533553-0-6.

External links

"The Home of the Great Auk" . Popular Science Monthly. Vol. 33. August 1888. ISSN 0161-7370 – via Wikisource.

2 July 1644

Battle of Marston Moor.

Battle of Marston Moor

Battle of Marston Moor
Part of the English Civil War
Battle of Marston Moor, 1644.png
The Battle of Marston Moor, by J. Barker
Date2 July 1644
Result Decisive Parliamentarian–Covenanter victory
Flag of England.svg Parliamentarians
Scottish Covenanter Flag.svg Covenanters
Commanders and leaders

Flag of England.svg Earl of Manchester
Flag of England.svg Lord Fairfax
Flag of England.svg Oliver Cromwell
Flag of England.svg Sir Thomas Fairfax Scottish Covenanter Flag.svg Earl of Leven
Scottish Covenanter Flag.svg Sir David Leslie

Scottish Covenanter Flag.svg William Baillie

Prince Rupert
Marquess of Newcastle
Lord Byron
Lord Goring
Charles Lucas  Surrendered

Lord Eythin

2,000 horse
11,000 foot
500 dragoons
50 guns
5,000 horse

6,000 foot

Rupert's army:
6,000 horse
8,000 foot
500 dragoons
14 guns
York garrison:

3,000 foot
Casualties and losses
300 killed 4,000 killed
1,500 captured
14 guns lost

The Battle of Marston Moor was fought on 2 July 1644, during the First English Civil War of 1642–1646.[a] The combined forces of the English Parliamentarians under Lord Fairfax and the Earl of Manchester and the Scottish Covenanters under the Earl of Leven defeated the Royalists commanded by Prince Rupert of the Rhine and the Marquess of Newcastle.

During the summer of 1644, the Covenanters and Parliamentarians had been besieging York, which was defended by the Marquess of Newcastle. Rupert had gathered an army which marched through the northwest of England, gathering reinforcements and fresh recruits on the way, and across the Pennines to relieve the city. The convergence of these forces made the ensuing battle the largest of the civil wars.

On 1 July, Rupert outmanoeuvred the Covenanters and Parliamentarians to relieve the city. The next day, he sought battle with them even though he was outnumbered. He was dissuaded from attacking immediately and during the day both sides gathered their full strength on Marston Moor, an expanse of wild meadow west of York. Towards evening, the Covenanters and Parliamentarians themselves launched a surprise attack. After a confused fight lasting two hours, Parliamentarian cavalry under Oliver Cromwell routed the Royalist cavalry from the field and, with Leven's infantry, annihilated the remaining Royalist infantry.

After their defeat the Royalists effectively abandoned Northern England, losing much of the manpower from the northern counties of England (which were strongly Royalist in sympathy) and also losing access to the European continent through the ports on the North Sea coast. Although they partially retrieved their fortunes with victories later in the year in Southern England, the loss of the north was to prove a fatal handicap the next year, when they tried unsuccessfully to link up with the Scottish Royalists under the Marquess of Montrose.


Civil war in the north

In Northern England, the Royalists had the advantage in numbers and local support, except in parts of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, where the Parliamentarians had support from the clothing-manufacturing towns which "naturally maligned the gentry".[2] On 30 June 1643, the Royalists commanded by the Marquess of Newcastle defeated the Parliamentarian army of Lord Fairfax at the Battle of Adwalton Moor near Bradford. Fairfax and his son, Sir Thomas Fairfax, fled with their remaining forces to the port of Hull, which was held for Parliament.

Newcastle sent some of his army south into Lincolnshire, as part of a planned "three-pronged" advance on London, but was forced to besiege Hull with most of his forces. The siege failed, as the Parliamentarian navy could supply and reinforce the port and the garrison flooded wide areas around the city, while the Royalist detachments sent into Lincolnshire were defeated at the Battle of Gainsborough and the Battle of Winceby.

In late 1643, the English Civil War widened. King Charles I negotiated a "cessation" in Ireland, which allowed him to reinforce his armies with English regiments (one of horse and twelve of foot)[3] which had been sent to Ireland following the Irish Rebellion of 1641,[4] but Parliament took an even greater step by signing the Solemn League and Covenant, sealing an alliance with the Scottish Covenanters.

Early in 1644, a Covenanter army under the Earl of Leven entered the north of England on behalf of the English Parliament.[5] The Marquess of Newcastle was forced to divide his army, leaving a detachment under Sir John Belasyse to watch the Parliamentarians under Lord Fairfax in Hull, while he led his main body north to confront Leven.[6]

Siege of York

During March and early April, the Marquess of Newcastle fought several delaying actions as he tried to prevent the Scots from crossing the River Tyne and surrounding the city of Newcastle upon Tyne.[7] Meanwhile, a Parliamentarian cavalry force under Sir Thomas Fairfax, who had been campaigning in Cheshire and Lancashire during the winter, crossed the Pennines and entered the West Riding of Yorkshire. To prevent Sir Thomas rejoining Lord Fairfax in Hull, Belasyse occupied the town of Selby which lay between them. On 11 April, Sir Thomas Fairfax's force, reinforced by infantry under Sir John Meldrum, stormed Selby, capturing Belasyse and most of his force.[8]

Hearing the news, Newcastle realised that the city of York was in danger. York was the principal city and bastion of Royalist power in the north of England, and its loss would be a serious blow to the Royalist cause.[9] He hastily retreated there to forestall the Fairfaxes. Leven left a detachment under the Earl of Callendar to mask the Royalist garrison of Newcastle upon Tyne, and followed the Marquess of Newcastle's army with his main body. On 22 April, Leven and the Fairfaxes joined forces at Wetherby, about 14 miles (23 km) west of York. Together, they began the Siege of York.

Initially, the siege was a rather loose blockade as the Covenanters and Parliamentarians concentrated on capturing smaller Royalist garrisons which threatened their communications with Hull. On 3 June, they were reinforced by the Parliamentarian army of the Eastern Association under the Earl of Manchester. York was now completely encircled and siege operations began in earnest. Leven was accepted as commander in chief of the three combined allied armies before York (referred to by Parliament as the "Army of Both Kingdoms"). It was politic to make the Scottish Covenanters pre-eminent in the north as they were the largest single contingent in the army, but Leven was also a respected veteran of the Thirty Years' War.[10][11]

Relief moves

Prince Rupert of the Rhine (1619–1682) – Rupert was ordered to retake the north from Parliament and their Scottish allies

News of the siege soon reached Oxford, where the King had his wartime capital. From 24 April to 5 May, he held a council of war attended by his nephew and most renowned field commander, Prince Rupert. It was settled that while the King attempted to play for time in Oxford, Rupert would relieve York.[12]

Rupert set out from Shrewsbury with a small force on 16 May. His first moves were intended to gather reinforcements along the way to bolster his army, and secure Lancashire for the troops heading over from Ireland for the Royalist cause. He assumed the direction of a small Royalist army, based on Chester and commanded by Lord John Byron, raising his force to 2,000 horse and 6,000 foot. Having forced a crossing of the River Mersey at Stockport, he stormed Bolton, allegedly killing 1,600 of the Parliamentarian defenders and citizens.[13] Resting at Bury nearby, Rupert was joined by the Marquess of Newcastle's cavalry under Lord George Goring, which had broken out of York early in the siege, with a small contingent from Derbyshire, and several regiments which were being freshly raised in Lancashire by the Earl of Derby. Bypassing the Parliamentarian stronghold of Manchester, Rupert approached Liverpool on 6 June and wrested control of the city from Parliament after a five-day siege.[14]

Rupert now hesitated, unsure whether to proceed to the relief of York or remain to consolidate the Royalist hold on Lancashire, securing more reinforcements in the process. He also distrusted some of the members of the King's council of war and was wary of being so far from the King's side. On 16 June, he received a dispatch from the King which contained troubling news. The King's advisors on the council of war had overturned Rupert's defensive policies, sending the garrisons of Reading and Abingdon on an offensive in the West Country. This had left Oxford exposed to a sudden threat from the Parliamentarian armies commanded by the Earl of Essex and Sir William Waller and forced the King to leave the city in haste and head to Worcester, where he was still in danger.[15] The letter also contained some ambiguous orders regarding Rupert's northern offensive and future plans:

But now I must give the true state of my affairs, which, if their condition be such as enforces me to give you more peremptory commands than I would willingly do, you must not take it ill. If York be lost I shall esteem my crown little less; unless supported by your sudden march to me; and a miraculous conquest in the South, before the effects of the Northern power can be found here. But if York be relieved, and you beat the rebels' army of both kingdoms, which are before it, then (but otherwise not) I may possibly make a shift upon the defensive to spin out time until you come to assist me. Wherefore I command and conjure you, by the duty and affection that I know you bear me, that all new enterprises laid aside, you immediately march according to your first intention, with all your force to the relief of York. But if that be either lost, or have freed themselves from the besiegers, or that for want of powder, you cannot undertake that work, that you immediately march with your whole strength, directly to Worcester to assist me and my army; without which, or you having relieved York by beating the Scots, all the successes you can afterwards have must infallibly be useless onto me.[16]

Rupert understood the letter to be an order both to relieve York and defeat the allied army before heading south once more to aid the King.[17] By this time Rupert's army numbered nearly 14,000. He set out from Liverpool to Preston, which surrendered without a fight. From there he proceeded via Clitheroe and crossed the Pennines to Skipton, where he paused for three days from 26 June to 28 June to "fix arms" and await some final reinforcements from Cumberland and Westmoreland.[18] He arrived at the Royalist garrison at Knaresborough Castle 14 miles (23 km) northwest of York on 30 June.

Relief of York

The allies were aware of Rupert's approach and had been hoping that reinforcements from the Midlands under Sir John Meldrum and the Earl of Denbigh could ward off this threat, but they learned that these forces could not intervene in time.[19] The allied armies around York were separated from each other by rivers, and if Rupert attacked them in their siege lines he could destroy any one army before the other two could come to its aid. Therefore, they abandoned the siege on the night of 30 June, and concentrated their forces near the village of Hessay before taking position on Marston Moor, where they blocked Rupert's expected direct march to York (along the old Roman road named Ermine Street, the modern A59), and could easily move to their left to prevent Rupert making any move to the south via Wetherby.[20]

Early on 1 July, some Royalist cavalry advanced from Knaresborough and appeared on the Moor, and the allies prepared for battle.[21] However, Rupert had made a 22-mile (35 km) flank march to the northeast with his main body, crossing the River Ure at Boroughbridge and the River Swale at Thornton Bridge. These two rivers merge to form the River Ouse, which Rupert had successfully put between himself and the allied armies. Later that day, his forces defeated the Earl of Manchester's dragoons, who had been left to guard a bridge of boats across the Ouse at the village of Poppleton a few miles north of York.[22] This had been the only crossing available to the allies above another bridge of boats at Acaster Malbis 5 miles (8.0 km) south of York, and its capture prevented the allies crossing the Ouse to engage Rupert.

More of Rupert's cavalry arrived at York to gain touch with the garrison. With York definitely relieved, Newcastle sent Rupert a fulsome letter of welcome and congratulations. Rupert replied, not in person but through Goring, with a peremptory demand for Newcastle to march his forces to Rupert's assistance on the following morning.[23]



The monument commemorating the battle, alongside the Long Marston - Tockwith road. In the background is Marston Hill, crowned by the clump of trees known as "Cromwell's plump", reputedly the site of the Parliamentarian and Covenanter headquarters

On learning that they had been outmanoeuvred, the allied commanders debated their options. They decided to march south to Tadcaster and Cawood, where they could both protect their own supply lines from Hull, and also block any move south by Rupert on either side of the Ouse.[24] Their foot (infantry), ordnance and baggage set off early on 2 July, leaving the cavalry and dragoons, commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax, as rearguard. At about 9 am, the allied generals learned that Rupert's army had crossed the captured bridge of boats at Poppleton, and was advancing onto Marston Moor. The Covenanter and Parliamentarian foot, some of whom had already reached Tadcaster, were hastily recalled.[25]

However, Newcastle and his Lieutenant General, Lord Eythin, were opposed to any pitched battle[26] and possibly offended by Rupert's high-handed attitude. Rather than join Rupert immediately they temporised, claiming that it would take time to clear the earth and rubble which had been used to block the city gates of York during the siege.[27] Newcastle's soldiers in York then refused to fight unless given their delayed payment, a dispute which Eythin may have fomented.[27] A number were also absent, pillaging the abandoned allied siege works and encampments outside the city, and had yet to return.[26]

Around midday, Rupert was joined on Marston Moor by Newcastle, accompanied by a mounted troop of "gentleman volunteers" only. Rupert greeted him by saying, "My Lord, I wish you had come sooner with your forces, but I hope we shall yet have a glorious day." Newcastle counselled that the three allied armies, with separate garrisons, recruiting areas and lines of communication to protect, would eventually separate.[28] He also suggested waiting for a force of 3,000 under Colonel Clavering and collected garrisons amounting to another 2,000 to join the Royalist army.[27] Rupert was adamant that the King's letter (which he never showed to Newcastle) was a command to engage and defeat the enemy immediately.[29] Furthermore, Rupert wished to compensate for the Royalists' numerical inferiority by catching the enemy unawares, and before further Parliamentarian reinforcements could increase their superiority in numbers.[26]

However, without Newcastle's infantry, and with his own infantry exhausted from their long march on the previous day, Rupert was unable to attack, and the odds against him lengthened as the day wore on, and the Scots and Parliamentarian infantry and artillery returned from their aborted move south and took position.

At about 2:00 pm, the allied artillery, consisting of around thirty pieces of ordnance commanded by General Alexander Hamilton, began a cannonade, although according to a Royalist eyewitness "... this was only a shewing of their teeth, for after 4 shots made them give over & in Marston corn feilds [sic] fall to singing psalms..."[30] At about 5:00 pm, the firing ceased.[31] Meanwhile, at about 4:00 pm, the Royalist contingent from York belatedly arrived, led by Eythin. Rupert and Eythin already knew and disliked one another. Both had fought at the Battle of Vlotho in 1638, where Rupert had been captured and held prisoner for several years. Rupert blamed Eythin's caution for the defeat on that occasion, while Eythin blamed Rupert's rashness. On the Moor, Eythin criticised Rupert's dispositions as being drawn up too close to the enemy. His main concern was that a fold in the ground (referred to by some eyewitnesses as a "glen")[32] between the ridge on which the allied forces were drawn up and the track between Long Marston and Tockwith concealed the front line of the allied infantry from both view and artillery fire, allowing them to attack suddenly from a comparatively close distance.[33] When Rupert proposed to either attack or move his army back as Eythin suggested, Eythin then pontificated that it was too late in the day for such a move.[34] The Royalist army prepared to settle down for the night, close to the allied armies.


Covenanters and Parliamentarians

Alexander Leslie, 1st Earl of Leven (1580–1661) – Leven commanded the Covenanter and Parliamentarian armies

The Covenanters and Parliamentarians occupied Marston Hill, a low feature (actually part of a terminal moraine) less than 100 feet (30 m) above the surrounding countryside[35] but nevertheless prominent in the flat Vale of York, between the villages of Long Marston and Tockwith. They had the advantage of the higher ground, but cornfields stretching between the two villages hampered their deployment.

At some point in the day, the Royalists attempted to seize a rabbit warren to the west of the cornfields from where they might enfilade the Parliamentarian position, but they were driven off and the Parliamentarian left wing of horse occupied the ground.[36] The wing was under the command of Manchester's Lieutenant General, Oliver Cromwell. The first two lines consisted of over 3,000 cavalry from the Eastern Association, including Cromwell's own double-strength regiment of ironsides. They were deployed in eleven divisions of three or four troops of cavalry each, with 600 "commanded" musketeers deployed as platoons between them.[37] The use of musketeers to disrupt attacking cavalry or dragoons was a common practice in the Swedish Army during the Thirty Years' War, and was adopted by both the Parliamentarians and Royalists at Marston Moor.[38][39] Three regiments of Covenanter horse, numbering 1,000 and mounted on lighter "nags", formed a third line to Cromwell's rear under Sir David Leslie. Five hundred Scottish dragoons under Colonel Hugh Fraser were deployed on the extreme left.[40]

The centre, under the direction of the Earl of Leven as nominated commander in chief, consisted of over 14,000 foot, with 30 to 40 pieces of artillery. Thomas Stockdale recorded the disposition of the troops and the role of Leven in drawing up the order of battle:

The Yorkeshire forces strengthened with a great party of the Scotts army hauing the main battle, the Earl of Manchester’s forces the left wing, and the Scotts the right wing, each battle hauing severall reserues and winged with horse, according to Generall Lesleys direction whose great experience did worthyly challenge the prime power in ordering them.[41]

The Covenanter Sergeant Major General of Foot, James Lumsden, nevertheless noted (in a note on the map he made of the allied army's dispositions) that "... the Brigads drawen up heir as we [illegible] it is not so formal as it ought to be."

Most of Manchester's infantry under Sergeant Major General Lawrence Crawford were on the left of the front line. A brigade of Lord Fairfax's foot was in the centre.[42] Two Covenanter brigades each of two regiments, the "vanguard" of the main battalia commanded by Lieutenant General William Baillie, made up the right of the front line. The second line consisted of four Covenanter brigades, their "main battle", commanded by Lumsden. There is confusion as to the disposition of the third line and of the infantry deployment on the right wing, as the only map (Lumsden's) is badly damaged.[43] The usual interpretation, based on Peter Young's reconstruction, is that the third line contained two or three Covenanter brigades and the Earl of Manchester's own regiment of foot. Young placed the main body of Fairfax's foot on the left of the third line, although more recent interpretations of accounts put them on the right of the third line or even behind the cavalry of the right wing. An unbrigaded Covenanter regiment may have formed an incomplete fourth line.[44] (There were a total of nineteen Covenanter regiments of foot, some of them incomplete, present at the battle.)[45]

The right wing was commanded by Sir Thomas Fairfax, with John Lambert as his second in command. He had at least 2,000 horse from Yorkshire and Lancashire, deployed in nine divisions, with 600 musketeers posted between them in the same manner as on the left wing. There were also perhaps 500 dragoons.[46] One regiment of Covenanter horse commanded by the Earl of Eglinton was deployed with Fairfax's front line, two more (one of them composed of lancers commanded by the Earl of Balgonie, Leven's son)[47] were deployed behind Fairfax's second line. The second and third lines of the right wing may also have included some units of foot, whose identity is uncertain.


A plan of the Royalist dispositions at Marston Moor, drawn up by Sir Bernard de Gomme

The Royalists occupied the low-lying moor, behind a drainage ditch that Rupert noted as an effective obstacle to a cavalry charge. There is some dispute over the course of the ditch at the time of the battle. Some contemporary accounts support the contention by later historians that it was non-existent on the Royalists' right wing. On the other hand, a near-contemporary plan of the Royalist dispositions by Rupert's chief engineer, Bernard de Gomme, shows the ditch in its present-day alignment.[33] It is generally accepted that the ditch was at least less of an obstacle on the Royalist right.[48]

The Royalist left wing was commanded by Lord Goring. It consisted of 1,700 cavalry from the Marquess of Newcastle's cavalry (the "Northern Horse"), 400 cavalry from Derbyshire and 500 musketeers. The first line was commanded by Goring and the second by Sir Charles Lucas.[49]

Their centre was commanded by Eythin. A brigade numbering 1,500 and consisting of Rupert's and Byron's regiments of foot under Colonel Robert Napier of Byron's regiment[50] was deployed at the ditch, at the junction of the right wing and centre, possibly to protect some artillery which may have occupied a slight hummock near this point[51] or where the ditch was an especially weak obstacle.[50] To their left, a forlorn hope of musketeers lined the ditch. Behind them, the first line and the left wing of the second line were composed of the remaining infantry units of Rupert's army, numbering 5,500, under Rupert's Sergeant Major General, Henry Tillier. The 3,000 infantry from Newcastle's army under Sergeant Major General Francis Mackworth formed the right wing of the second line and an incomplete third line behind the right centre when they arrived, though some at least of them may not have taken up their assigned positions when the battle began, leaving the right of the Royalist centre understrength.[33] A brigade of 600 "Northern Horse" under Sir William Blakiston was deployed behind the left centre. A total of 14 field guns were deployed in the centre.[49]

The right wing was commanded by Byron, with 2,600 horse and 500 musketeers. The second line, which included Rupert's Regiment of Horse but also some comparatively inexperienced regiments, was commanded by Lord Molyneux, although the experienced but unprincipled Sir John Urry (or "Hurry") was Sergeant Major General of Rupert's horse and therefore Byron's second in command.[52]

Unlike the Covenanters and Parliamentarians, Rupert retained a reserve of 600 cavalry, including his elite Lifeguard of Horse, under his personal command. This reserve was situated behind the centre.[49]

Main action

Delayed by the late arrival of the York garrison, it was late evening before the Royalists were fully deployed. A flurry of rain showers and the discouragement of Newcastle and Eythin persuaded Rupert to delay his attack until the next day. From the ranks of the allied army he could hear the singing of psalms. As the Royalist troops broke ranks for their supper, Leven noted the lack of preparation among his opponents and ordered his men to attack at or shortly after 7:30 pm, just as a thunderstorm broke out over the moor.[53]

On the allied left, Crawford's infantry outflanked and drove back Napier's brigade while Cromwell's horse quickly defeated Byron's wing. Though Byron had been ordered to stand his ground and rely on the ditch and musket fire to slow and disorganize an enemy attack, he instead ordered a hasty counter-charge which disordered his own troops and prevented his musketeers and four "drakes" (field guns) attached to Napier's brigade[54] from firing for fear of hitting their own cavalry.[55] In the clashes which followed, Byron's front line regiments were put to flight. Cromwell was slightly wounded in the neck, by a pistol ball in most accounts, and briefly left the field to have the wound dressed.

Noting the setback on this flank, Rupert led his reserve towards the right, rallying his own fleeing regiment of horse and leading them in a counter-attack.[56] A Parliamentarian officer wrote:

Cromwell's own division had a hard pull of it; for they were charged by Rupert's bravest men both in front and flank; they stood at the sword's point a pretty while, hacking one another; but at last (it so pleased God) he [Cromwell] brake through them, scattering them before him like a little dust.[57]

— Scoutmaster-General Watson to Henry Overton, quoted in Young, Marston Moor 1644

Leslie's Covenanter regiments eventually swung the balance for Cromwell, outflanking and defeating the Royalist cavalry.[58] Rupert's right wing and reserve were routed and he himself narrowly avoided capture by hiding in a nearby bean field.[59]

On the allied right centre, the brigade of Fairfax's infantry and Baillie's "vanguard" initially succeeded in crossing the ditch, capturing at least three pieces of artillery. On the allied right, Sir Thomas Fairfax's wing fared worse. He later wrote:

Our Right Wing had not, all, so good success, by reason of the whins and ditches which we were to pass over before we could get to the Enemy, which put us into great disorder: notwithstanding, I drew up a body of 400 Horse. But because the intervals of Horse, in this Wing only, were lined with Musketeers; which did us much hurt with their shot; I was necessitated to charge them. We were a long time engaged with one another, but at last we routed that part of their Wing ... [I] myself only returned presently, to get to the men I left behind me. But that part of the Enemy which stood, perceiving the disorder they were in, had charged and routed them, before I could get to them.[60]

— Sir Thomas Fairfax, quoted in Young (1970)

Fairfax wrote that his second-in-command, Major-General Lambert, could not get up to him, and so charged in another place. A lane, the present-day Atterwith Lane, crossed the ditch on this flank, and some accounts suggest that several units were easy targets for the Royalist musketeers as they advanced along the lane only four abreast.[61] When a small embankment alongside the ditch at this point was removed in the 1960s, several hundred musket balls were recovered.[33]

When Goring launched a counter-charge, the disorganised Parliamentarians were routed, although some of the Covenanter cavalry regiments with Sir Thomas Fairfax's wing, especially the Earl of Eglinton's regiment, resisted stoutly for some time.[62] As an eyewitness observed:

sir Tho. Fairfax his new levied Regiments being in the Van [of the right wing], they wheeled about, & being hotly pursued by the enemy, came back upon the L. Fairfax foot, and the reserve of the Scottish foot, broke them wholly, & trod the most part of them under foot.[63]

— Captain William Stewart, quoted in Murdoch & Grosjean (2014)

Most of Goring's victorious wing then either scattered in pursuit, or fell out to loot the allied baggage train, but some of them under Lucas wheeled to attack the right flank of the allied infantry. Meanwhile, some of Newcastle's foot counter-attacked the brigade of Fairfax's foot in the centre of the allied front line and threw them into confusion. Following up this advantage, Blakiston's brigade of horse, probably reinforced by the troop of "gentleman volunteers" under Newcastle himself, charged the allied centre. Under Lucas's and Blakiston's assaults in the confusion and the gathering darkness, six of the Covenanter infantry regiments and all of Fairfax's infantry fled the field. The Scottish sergeant major general, Lumsden, on the right of the allied second line, stated that:

These that ran away shew themselves most baselie. I commanding the battel was on the head of your Lordships [Loudoun's] Regiment, and Buccleuch's; but they carried themselves not so I could have wished, neither could I prevaile with them: For these that fled, never came to charge with the enemie, but were so possest with ane pannick fear, that they ran for an example to others, and no enemie following them, which gave the enemie [an opportunity] to charge them, they intended not, &they had only the losse.[64]

— Sir James Lumsden to the Earl of Loudon, quoted in Young (1970)

One isolated Covenanter brigade of foot that stood its ground was at the right of their front line and consisted of the regiments of the Earl of Crawford-Lindsay and Viscount Maitland. Lucas launched three cavalry charges against them. In the third charge, Lucas's horse was killed, and he was taken prisoner.[65] Behind them, Lumsden reformed the reserve of the allied centre, pushing four regiments (those of the Earl of Cassilis, William Douglas of Kilhead, Lord Coupar and the Earl of Dunfermline) and part of the Clydesdale Regiment forward into the breach in the allied front line.[66] Behind them in turn, the Earl of Manchester's regiment repulsed and scattered Blakiston's brigade.[67]

By now it was nearly fully dark, although the full moon was rising. The countryside for miles around was covered with fugitives from both sides. A messenger from Ireland riding in search of Prince Rupert wrote:

In this horrible distraction did I coast the country; here meeting with a shoal of Scots crying out, 'Weys us, we are all undone'; and so full of lamentation and mourning, as if their day of doom had overtaken them, and from which they knew not whither to fly; and anon I met with a ragged troop reduced to four and a Cornet; by and by with a little foot officer without hat, band, sword, or indeed anything but feet and so much tongue as would serve to enquire the way to the next garrisons, which (to say the truth) were well filled with the stragglers on both sides within a few hours, though they lay distant from the place of the fight 20 or 30 miles.[68]

— Mr. Arthur Trevor to the Marquess of Ormonde, quoted in Young (1970)

Cromwell's disciplined horsemen had rallied behind the right of the original Royalist position. Sir Thomas Fairfax, finding himself alone in the midst of Goring's men, removed the "field sign" (a handkerchief or slip of white paper which identified him as a Parliamentarian) from his hat, and made his way to Cromwell's wing to relate the state of affairs on the allied right flank.[60] Some five or six troops of Fairfax's cavalry and Balgonie's Covenanter regiment of horse (split into two bodies) also made their way though the Royalists to join Cromwell.[67] Cromwell now led his cavalry, with Sir David Leslie still in support and Sergeant Major General Crawford's foot on his right flank, across the battlefield to attack Goring's cavalry.

By this time, Goring's troops were tired and disorganised, and several of his senior officers were prisoners.[67] They nevertheless marched down the hill from the Parliamentarian baggage to occupy roughly the same position which Fairfax's cavalry had held at the start of the battle, which most contemporary accounts stated to be a disadvantageous position.[69] When Cromwell attacked, Goring's outnumbered troops were driven back. Many of them retired to the "glen", the fold of ground beneath Marston Hill, but refused to take any further part in the battle despite the efforts of officers such as Sir Marmaduke Langdale and Sir Philip Monckton to rally them. Eventually they obeyed orders to retreat to York late at night.[70]

The triumphant allies meanwhile turned against the remains of the Royalist centre, overrunning successive units and cutting down many fugitives. Finally some of Newcastle's foot, the "whitecoats", gathered for a last stand in a ditched enclosure. This has usually been stated to be White Sike Close, in the rear of the Royalists' original position, where some of Newcastle's infantry would have retreated when they found their right flank "in the air" following the defeat of Byron's and Rupert's cavalry,[71] and certainly where some mass burials later took place, although the enclosure may instead have been Fox Covert, a mile north of Long Marston on the natural line of retreat towards York.[33] The whitecoats refused quarter and repulsed constant cavalry charges until infantry and Colonel Hugh Fraser's dragoons were brought up to break their formation with musket fire. The last 30 survivors finally surrendered.[72][73]


Approximately 4,000 Royalist soldiers had been killed, many in the last stand of the whitecoats, and 1,500 captured, including Lucas and Tillier. The Royalists lost all their guns, with many hundreds of weapons and several standards also falling into the hands of the allied forces.

The allied generals' dispatch, and other Parliamentarian accounts, stated that 300 of their soldiers were killed.[74] One of those mortally wounded among the Parliamentarians was Sir Thomas Fairfax's brother, Charles.[60] Another was Cromwell's nephew, Valentine Walton, who was struck by a cannonball early in the day. Cromwell was present when he died afterwards, and wrote a famous letter to the soldier's father, Cromwell's brother-in-law, also named Valentine Walton, which briefly described the battle and then informed the father of the son's last words and death.[75]



Late at night, the Royalist generals reached York, with many routed troops and stragglers. The Governor of York, Sir Thomas Glemham, allowed only those who were part of the garrison (in effect, only a few officers who had participated in the battle as volunteers) into the city, in case Parliamentarian cavalry entered the city on the heels of the fleeing Royalists. Many fugitives, including wounded, crowded the streets before Micklegate Bar, the western gate into the city.

Newcastle, having seen his forces broken and having spent his entire fortune in the Royalist cause, resolved that he would not endure the "laughter of the court". He departed for Scarborough on the day after the battle (3 July) and went into exile in Hamburg, with Eythin and many of his senior officers.[59] Two days after the battle, Rupert rallied 5,000 cavalry and a few hundred infantry whom he mounted on spare horses. He considered that rather than attempt to restore Royalist fortunes in the north, he was required to return south to rejoin the King. Leaving York by way of Monk Bar on the north east side, he marched back over the Pennines, making a detour to Richmond to escape interception.

At Marston Moor, Rupert had been decisively beaten for the first time in the war. He was deeply affected by the defeat, and kept the King's ambiguous dispatch close to him for the remainder of his life.[76] He had suffered an additional blow through the death during the battle of his dog "Boye", who had been a constant companion by his side throughout his campaigns. Parliamentarian propaganda made much of this, treating Boye almost as a Devil's familiar.[77]

With the departure of Newcastle and Rupert, the Royalists effectively abandoned the north, except for isolated garrisons, which were reduced one by one over the next few months. The remnants of Byron's troops were driven from Lancashire in August, and were involved in another Royalist disaster at the Relief of Montgomery Castle in Wales in September.[78] The Royalist cavalry from the northern counties, the "Northern Horse", continued to fight for the King under Sir Marmaduke Langdale. They relieved a Royalist garrison at Pontefract Castle in West Yorkshire in February 1645, but their undisciplined and licentious conduct turned many former sympathisers away from the Royalist cause.[79] After being involved in the defeats of the King at the battles of Naseby and Rowton Heath, they made a final attempt to reach Scotland and were routed at Sherburn-in-Elmet in October 1645.[80]


Oliver Cromwell at the Battle of Marston Moor (1599–1658). Cromwell's reputation as an effective cavalry commander and leader was cemented by his success at Marston Moor.

The victorious allies regrouped, although too slowly to intercept Rupert as he left York. Once the allied army had reformed (and had been joined by Meldrum's and Denbigh's forces) they resumed the siege of York. Without hope of relief, and under the agreement that no Scottish soldiers were to be quartered in the city, the garrison surrendered on honourable terms on 16 July.[76]

Once York surrendered, the allied army soon dispersed. Leven took his troops north to besiege Newcastle upon Tyne and Carlisle. He sent dispatches to Scotland ordering that all runaways from the Covenanter regiments which broke at Marston Moor be returned, but not before every tenth deserter was hanged according to article 14 of Leven's Articles of War. Once reunited with the Army of both Kingdoms, the remnants of the six broken regiments were put to base service such as latrine duties and the disposing of corpses until they got the chance to redeem themselves during the storm of Newcastle.[81] Manchester's army returned to Lincolnshire and eventually moved into the south of England to take part in the Second Battle of Newbury.[59]

The Earl of Leven had again demonstrated the importance of disciplined infantry. Even as some of the newly levied allied regiments were routed by the Royalists, he had ensured he had enough veterans in reserve to replace them and overturn the early gains made by his opponents.[82] Cromwell's reputation as a cavalry commander was also firmly established at this battle. Despite attempts by his political rivals such as Denzil Holles and military critics such as Major General Lawrence Crawford to belittle the part he played,[83] it was acknowledged that the discipline he had instilled into his troops and his own leadership on the battlefield had been crucial to the victory. Cromwell would later declare that Marston Moor was "an absolute victory obtained by God's blessing".[84] From this moment, he was to exert increasing influence both in the House of Commons and in the Parliamentarian armies in the field.[84]

However, the accounts published after the battle exacerbated the rifts which were already growing between the moderates and Presbyterians on the one hand and the Independents on the other.[85] The noted Scottish theologian Robert Baillie wrote from Westminster only a few days later to one of his Independent brethren:

We were both grieved and angry, that your Independents there should have sent up Major Harrison to trumpet over all the city their own praises, to our prejudice, making all believe, that Cromwell alone, with his unspeakable valorous regiments, had done all that service: that most of us fled: and who stayed they fought so and so, as it might be. We were much vexed with these reports, against which yow were not pleased, any of yow to instruct us with any ansuer, till Lindesay's letters came at last, and captain Stewart with his collors. Then we sent abroad our printed relations, and could lift up our face. But within three days Mr Ashe's relation was also printed, who gives us many good words, but gives much more to Cromwell than we are informed is his due … See by this inclosed, if the whole victorie both in the right and left wing, be not ascribed to Cromwell, and not a word of David Lesley, who in all places that day was his leader.[86]

Conduct of the allied generals

Much of the resulting many-sided dispute among the Parliamentarians and Covenanters was prompted by accounts very soon after the battle that all three allied generals-in-chief had fled the field. The Earl of Manchester left the field but he subsequently rallied some infantry and returned, although he was able to exercise little control over events.

By some accounts, Lord Fairfax and Leven also fled the battlefield with their routed troops, but this has recently been challenged, certainly in Leven's case. The most detailed account of Leven's flight was written by the biographer of Lieutenant Colonel James Somerville, who was present at the battle as a volunteer.[87] However, this second hand account was published only in 1679, and has been challenged by previously unused eye witness accounts.[88] These show most of the Covenanter infantry and cavalry units remained fighting until the end of the battle. As seven different eyewitnesses attested, they did so under the direction of Leven. For example, Simeon Ashe (the Earl of Manchester's chaplain) noted that:

The Earl of Manchester’s new levied Forces began to give backe, the Enemey pursued our men, fell on again and gained two peeces of ordnance there; Rupert fell upon Sir Thomas Fairfaxes horse, and there was a very hot fight, many slayne on both sides: our forces retreated, but ralleing our men again and General Lessly coming on with his foot, they fell on furiously, many were killed on both sides, and then the enemy beginning to retreat, our men followed pursuing and totally Routed Rupert.[89]

The enigmatic English reporter,"T. M.", agreed that Leven still commanded the centre battalia after the initial rout:

The Lord of Hosts did so strike up the hearts of the three Noble Generals [that God] took boldness and courage unto them, gathering up those Horse Forces that were left into a body to assist those English and Scotts that stood to it, and set upon them, as David with his small Army upon the numerous company of the Amalekites, while they were rejoicing over their spoils, and smote them until the evening.[90]

Fiction and media

In 1971 the British band Electric Light Orchestra released an instrumental track titled "The Battle of Marston Moor (July 2nd 1644)".


  1. ^ In some older sources this battle is described as taking place on Hessam-Moor.[1] At the time, Hessay Moor and Marston Moor were contiguous areas of uncultivated common land.
  1. ^ Carte 1739, p. 56.
  2. ^ Churchill, Winston. A History of the English-speaking Peoples. 2. The New World. London: Cassell. p. 186. ISBN 0-304-29501-9. Quote from Clarendon
  3. ^ Young and Holmes (2000), p.165
  4. ^ Royle, p.212
  5. ^ Royle, p.279
  6. ^ Newman and Roberts, p.13
  7. ^ Royle, p.283
  8. ^ Newman and Roberts, pp.15–16
  9. ^ Newman and Roberts, p.11
  10. ^ Young (1970), p.69
  11. ^ The most complete work on his continental service is Murdoch & Grosjean 2014.
  12. ^ Woolrych, pp.55–59
  13. ^ Kenyon, p.101
  14. ^ Newman and Roberts, pp.23–25
  15. ^ Royle, p.289
  16. ^ Warburton, 2nd vol.
  17. ^ Royle, p.290
  18. ^ Young and Holmes (2000) p.192
  19. ^ Young (1970), p.80
  20. ^ Woolrych, p.66
  21. ^ Young (1970), p.82
  22. ^ Newman and Roberts, pp.47–48.
  23. ^ Woolrych, p.65
  24. ^ Young (1970), p.92
  25. ^ Account by Thomas Stockdale to John Rushworth, Clerk's Assistant at the House of Commons. Quoted in Young (1970), p.214
  26. ^ a b c Royle, p.293
  27. ^ a b c Regan (1987), p.170
  28. ^ Tincey, p.52
  29. ^ Account of the Duchess of Newcastle. Quoted in Young (1970), p.203
  30. ^ Young (1970), pp.104, 200
  31. ^ Young (1970), p.210
  32. ^ Tincey (2003), p.73
  33. ^ a b c d e "Battle of Marston Moor" (PDF). Historic England. Retrieved 17 February 2017.
  34. ^ Young (1970), p.106
  35. ^ Tincey (2003), p.55
  36. ^ Young (1970), p.103
  37. ^ Young (1970), pp.86, 89, 93
  38. ^ Young (1970), p.86
  39. ^ Regan, p.172
  40. ^ Young (1970), p.96
  41. ^ Stockdale, quoted in Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, pp. 128–129.
  42. ^ Tincey (2003) p.24
  43. ^ Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, pp. 129–130.
  44. ^ Tincey (2010), p.24
  45. ^ These units are detailed in Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, p. 132: The most complete discussion of the command structure and number of men in each is found in Edward Furgol, A Regimental History of the Covenanting Armies, 1639–1651 (Edinburgh, 1990)
  46. ^ Tincey (2010), p.23
  47. ^ Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, p. 129.
  48. ^ Tincey (2003), p.60
  49. ^ a b c Young (1970), pp.86–90
  50. ^ a b Young (1970), p.87
  51. ^ Tincey (2003), pp.28–30
  52. ^ Young (1970), p.68
  53. ^ Royle, p.295
  54. ^ Regan, p.176
  55. ^ Newman and Roberts, p.81
  56. ^ Young (1970), p.113
  57. ^ Scoutmaster-General Lion. Watson to Henry Overton, quoted in Young (1970), pp.209–213
  58. ^ Tincey (2003), p.64
  59. ^ a b c Royle, p.298
  60. ^ a b c Sir Thomas Fairfax, quoted in Young (1970), pp.218–221
  61. ^ Young (1970), p.109
  62. ^ Young (1970), p.110
  63. ^ Captain William Stewart, quoted in Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, p. 129.
  64. ^ quoted in Young (1970), p.115
  65. ^ Royle, p.296
  66. ^ Lumsden's account, quoted in Young (1970), pp.240–241
  67. ^ a b c Young (1970), p.121
  68. ^ Mr. Arthur Trevor to the Marquess of Ormonde, quoted in Young (1970), pp.206–208
  69. ^ Young (1970), p.122
  70. ^ Young (1970), pp.121–122, 125
  71. ^ Young (1970), p.115
  72. ^ Newman and Roberts, pp.105–109
  73. ^ Will Coster speculates that far from it being a voluntary last stand, that the Parliamentarians refused to accept the surrender of many men because they (probably mistakenly) believed the regiment to contain many Roman Catholics (Coster 1999, p. 100).
  74. ^ Young (1970), pp.217–218
  75. ^ Fraser, Antonia. Cromwell the Lord Protector. New York: Primus. pp. 129–31. ISBN 0-917657-90-X.
  76. ^ a b Royle, p.299
  77. ^ Royle, p.173
  78. ^ Young (1970), p.139
  79. ^ Plant, David. "Sir Marmaduke Langdale, 1st Baron Langdale, c.1598–1661". British Civil Wars and Commonwealth Web Site. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2007.
  80. ^ Young (1970), pp.167–168
  81. ^ Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, p. 131.
  82. ^ Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, pp. 132–133.
  83. ^ Tincey (2003), p.69
  84. ^ a b Royle, p.300
  85. ^ Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, p. 127.
  86. ^ Baillie 1841, vol. 2, p. 209 "Baillie to Blair", 18 July 1644 quoted in Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, p. 133
  87. ^ NB. Young made the error of thinking the account was written by Somerville himself. The account is quoted in Young (1970), pp.231–236
  88. ^ Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, pp. 126–134.
  89. ^ quoted in Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, pp. 129–130.
  90. ^ quoted in Murdoch & Grosjean 2014, p. 130.


  • Baillie, Robert (1841). Laing, D (ed.). The Letters and Journals of Robert Baillie, Principal of the University of Glasgow MDCXXXVII–MDCLXII (3 vols ed.). Edinburgh.
  • Carte, T., ed. (1739). "Letter: Arthur Trevor to Lieutenant-General, The Marquis of Ormonde 10 July 1644". Collection of Letters. 1. p. 56.
  • (1996). Battles in Britain, 1066–1746. Arms and Armour.
  • Coster, Will (1999). "massacres in the First English Civil War". In Levene, Mark; Roberts, Penny (eds.). Massacres in History (illustrated ed.). Berghahn Books. p. 100. ISBN 9781571819352.
  • Kenyon, John (1988). The Civil Wars of England. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. ISBN 0-297-79351-9.
  • Murdoch, Steve; Grosjean, Alexia (2014). Alexander Leslie and the Scottish Generals of the Thirty Years' War, 1618–1648. Pickering and Chatto. ISBN 978-1-84893-467-2.
  • Newman, P.R; Roberts, P.R. (2003). Marston Moor 1644: The Battle of the Five Armies. Pickering: Blackthorn. ISBN 0-9540535-2-4.
  • Regan, Geoffrey (1987). Someone had blundered. London: B.T. Batsford. ISBN 0-7134-5008-8.
  • Royle, Trevor (2004). Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638–1660. London: Abacus. ISBN 0-349-11564-8.
  • Tincey, John (2003). Marston Moor 1644: The Beginning of the End. campaign. 119. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84176-334-7.
  • Warburton, Eliot (2003). Memoirs of Prince Rupert and the Cavaliers. 2. London. ISBN 978-1-4212-4940-7.
  • Woolrych, Austin (1961). Battles of the English Civil War. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd.
  • Young, Peter (1970). Marston Moor 1644: The Campaign and the Battle. Kineton: Roundwood. ISBN 1-900624-09-5.
  • Young, Peter; Holmes, Richard (2000). The English Civil War. Ware: Wordsworth Editions. ISBN 1-84022-222-0.

External links

Coordinates: 53°57′49″N 1°15′43″W / 53.9637°N 1.2619°W / 53.9637; -1.2619

1 July 1863

The Battle of Gettysburg begins.

Battle of Gettysburg

Battle of Gettysburg
Part of the American Civil War
Thure de Thulstrup - L. Prang and Co. - Battle of Gettysburg - Restoration by Adam Cuerden (cropped).jpg
Pickett's Charge as depicted by Thulstrup in The Battle of Gettysburg
DateJuly 1–3, 1863
39°48′40″N 77°13′30″W / 39.811°N 77.225°W / 39.811; -77.225Coordinates: 39°48′40″N 77°13′30″W / 39.811°N 77.225°W / 39.811; -77.225
Result Union victory[1]
 United States  Confederate States
Commanders and leaders
George G. Meade Robert E. Lee
Units involved
Army of the Potomac[2] Army of Northern Virginia[3]
104,256 ("present for duty")[4][5] 71,000–75,000 (estimated)[6]
Casualties and losses
23,049 total
(3,155 killed;
14,529 wounded;
5,365 captured/missing)
23,000–28,000 (estimated)[9][10]
Northern Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania (1861-1865)
Gettysburg Campaign, (1863)
Battlefield of Gettysburg, (1863)

The Battle of Gettysburg (locally /ˈɡɛtɪsbɜːrɡ/ (About this soundlisten))[11] was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. The battle involved the largest number of casualties of the entire war and is often described as the war's turning point.[12][13] Union Maj. Gen. George Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, halting Lee's invasion of the North.

After his success at Chancellorsville in Virginia in May 1863, Lee led his army through the Shenandoah Valley to begin his second invasion of the North—the Gettysburg Campaign. With his army in high spirits, Lee intended to shift the focus of the summer campaign from war-ravaged northern Virginia and hoped to influence Northern politicians to give up their prosecution of the war by penetrating as far as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or even Philadelphia. Prodded by President Abraham Lincoln, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker moved his army in pursuit, but was relieved of command just three days before the battle and replaced by Meade.

Elements of the two armies initially collided at Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, as Lee urgently concentrated his forces there, his objective being to engage the Union army and destroy it. Low ridges to the northwest of town were defended initially by a Union cavalry division under Brig. Gen. John Buford, and soon reinforced with two corps of Union infantry. However, two large Confederate corps assaulted them from the northwest and north, collapsing the hastily developed Union lines, sending the defenders retreating through the streets of the town to the hills just to the south.[14]

On the second day of battle, most of both armies had assembled. The Union line was laid out in a defensive formation resembling a fishhook. In the late afternoon of July 2, Lee launched a heavy assault on the Union left flank, and fierce fighting raged at Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil's Den, and the Peach Orchard. On the Union right, Confederate demonstrations escalated into full-scale assaults on Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill. All across the battlefield, despite significant losses, the Union defenders held their lines.

On the third day of battle, fighting resumed on Culp's Hill, and cavalry battles raged to the east and south, but the main event was a dramatic infantry assault by 12,500 Confederates against the center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge, known as Pickett's Charge. The charge was repulsed by Union rifle and artillery fire, at great loss to the Confederate army.[15]

Lee led his army on a torturous retreat back to Virginia. Between 46,000 and 51,000 soldiers from both armies were casualties in the three-day battle, the most costly in US history.

On November 19, President Lincoln used the dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.


Military situation

Gettysburg Campaign (through July 3); cavalry movements shown with dashed lines
This 1863 oval-shaped map depicts Gettysburg Battlefield during July 1–3, 1863, showing troop and artillery positions and movements, relief hachures, drainage, roads, railroads, and houses with the names of residents at the time of the Battle of Gettysburg.
A Harper's Weekly illustration showing Confederate troops escorting captured African American civilians south into slavery. En route to Gettysburg, the Army of Northern Virginia kidnapped approximately 40 black civilians and sent them south into slavery.[16][17][18]

Shortly after the Army of Northern Virginia won a major victory over the Army of the Potomac at the Battle of Chancellorsville (April 30 – May 6, 1863), Robert E. Lee decided upon a second invasion of the North (the first was the unsuccessful Maryland Campaign of September 1862, which ended in the bloody Battle of Antietam). Such a move would upset Union's plans for the summer campaigning season and possibly reduce the pressure on the besieged Confederate garrison at Vicksburg. The invasion would allow the Confederates to live off the bounty of the rich Northern farms while giving war-ravaged Virginia a much-needed rest. In addition, Lee's 72,000-man army[6] could threaten Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, and possibly strengthen the growing peace movement in the North.[19]

Initial movements to battle

Thus, on June 3, Lee's army began to shift northward from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Following the death of Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, Lee reorganized his two large corps into three new corps, commanded by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet (First Corps), Lt. Gen. Richard S. Ewell (Second), and Lt. Gen. A.P. Hill (Third); both Ewell and Hill, who had formerly reported to Jackson as division commanders, were new to this level of responsibility. The Cavalry Division remained under the command of Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart.[20]

The Union Army of the Potomac, under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, consisted of seven infantry corps, a cavalry corps, and an Artillery Reserve, for a combined strength of more than 100,000 men.[5]

The first major action of the campaign took place on June 9 between cavalry forces at Brandy Station, near Culpeper, Virginia. The 9,500 Confederate cavalrymen under Stuart were surprised by Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton's combined arms force of two cavalry divisions (8,000 troopers) and 3,000 infantry, but Stuart eventually repulsed the Union attack. The inconclusive battle, the largest predominantly cavalry engagement of the war, proved for the first time that the Union horse soldier was equal to his Southern counterpart.[21]

By mid-June, the Army of Northern Virginia was poised to cross the Potomac River and enter Maryland. After defeating the Union garrisons at Winchester and Martinsburg, Ewell's Second Corps began crossing the river on June 15. Hill's and Longstreet's corps followed on June 24 and 25. Hooker's army pursued, keeping between the Washington, D.C. and Lee's army. The Union army crossed the Potomac from June 25 to 27.[22]

Lee gave strict orders for his army to minimize any negative impacts on the civilian population.[23] Food, horses, and other supplies were generally not seized outright, although quartermasters reimbursing Northern farmers and merchants with Confederate money were not well received. Various towns, most notably York, Pennsylvania, were required to pay indemnities in lieu of supplies, under threat of destruction. During the invasion, the Confederates seized some 40 northern African Americans. A few of them were escaped fugitive slaves, but most were freemen; all were sent south into slavery under guard.[16][17][18]

On June 26, elements of Maj. Gen. Jubal Early's division of Ewell's Corps occupied the town of Gettysburg after chasing off newly raised Pennsylvania militia in a series of minor skirmishes. Early laid the borough under tribute, but did not collect any significant supplies. Soldiers burned several railroad cars and a covered bridge, and destroyed nearby rails and telegraph lines. The following morning, Early departed for adjacent York County.[24]

Meanwhile, in a controversial move, Lee allowed J.E.B. Stuart to take a portion of the army's cavalry and ride around the east flank of the Union army. Lee's orders gave Stuart much latitude, and both generals share the blame for the long absence of Stuart's cavalry, as well as for the failure to assign a more active role to the cavalry left with the army. Stuart and his three best brigades were absent from the army during the crucial phase of the approach to Gettysburg and the first two days of battle. By June 29, Lee's army was strung out in an arc from Chambersburg (28 miles (45 km) northwest of Gettysburg) to Carlisle (30 miles (48 km) north of Gettysburg) to near Harrisburg and Wrightsville on the Susquehanna River.[25]

In a dispute over the use of the forces defending the Harpers Ferry garrison, Hooker offered his resignation, and Abraham Lincoln and General-in-Chief Henry W. Halleck, who were looking for an excuse to rid themselves of him, immediately accepted. They replaced Hooker early on the morning of June 28 with Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade, then commander of the V Corps.[26]

On June 29, when Lee learned that the Army of the Potomac had crossed the Potomac River, he ordered a concentration of his forces around Cashtown, located at the eastern base of South Mountain and eight miles (13 km) west of Gettysburg.[27] On June 30, while part of Hill's Corps was in Cashtown, one of Hill's brigades, North Carolinians under Brig. Gen. J. Johnston Pettigrew, ventured toward Gettysburg. In his memoirs, Maj. Gen. Henry Heth, Pettigrew's division commander, claimed that he sent Pettigrew to search for supplies in town—especially shoes.[28]

When Pettigrew's troops approached Gettysburg on June 30, they noticed Union cavalry under Brig. Gen. John Buford arriving south of town, and Pettigrew returned to Cashtown without engaging them. When Pettigrew told Hill and Heth what he had seen, neither general believed that there was a substantial Union force in or near the town, suspecting that it had been only Pennsylvania militia. Despite General Lee's order to avoid a general engagement until his entire army was concentrated, Hill decided to mount a significant reconnaissance in force the following morning to determine the size and strength of the enemy force in his front. Around 5 a.m. on Wednesday, July 1, two brigades of Heth's division advanced to Gettysburg.[29]

Opposing forces


Key commanders (Army of the Potomac)

The Army of the Potomac, initially under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker (Maj. Gen. George Meade replaced Hooker in command on June 28), consisted of more than 100,000 men in the following organization:[30]

During the advance on Gettysburg, Maj. Gen. Reynolds was in operational command of the left, or advanced, wing of the Army, consisting of the I, III, and XI Corps.[31] Note that many other Union units (not part of the Army of the Potomac) were actively involved in the Gettysburg Campaign, but not directly involved in the Battle of Gettysburg. These included portions of the Union IV Corps, the militia and state troops of the Department of the Susquehanna, and various garrisons, including that at Harpers Ferry.


Key commanders (Army of Northern Virginia)

In reaction to the death of Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson after Chancellorsville, Lee reorganized his Army of Northern Virginia (75,000 men) from two infantry corps into three.[32]

First day of battle

Overview map of the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863

Herr Ridge, McPherson Ridge and Seminary Ridge

Anticipating that the Confederates would march on Gettysburg from the west on the morning of July 1, Buford laid out his defenses on three ridges west of the town: Herr Ridge, McPherson Ridge and Seminary Ridge. These were appropriate terrain for a delaying action by his small cavalry division against superior Confederate infantry forces, meant to buy time awaiting the arrival of Union infantrymen who could occupy the strong defensive positions south of town at Cemetery Hill, Cemetery Ridge, and Culp's Hill. Buford understood that if the Confederates could gain control of these heights, Meade's army would have difficulty dislodging them.[33]

First shot monument

Confederate General Henry Heth's division advanced with two brigades forward, commanded by Brig. Gens. James J. Archer and Joseph R. Davis. They proceeded easterly in columns along the Chambersburg Pike. Three miles (5 km) west of town, about 7:30 a.m. on July 1, the two brigades met light resistance from vedettes of Union cavalry, and deployed into line. According to lore, the Union soldier to fire the first shot of the battle was Lt. Marcellus Jones.[34] Lt. Jones later returned to Gettysburg, in 1886 erecting a monument marking the spot where he fired the first shot.[35] Eventually, Heth's men reached dismounted troopers of Col. William Gamble's cavalry brigade, who raised determined resistance and delaying tactics from behind fence posts with fire from their breechloading carbines.[36] Still, by 10:20 a.m., the Confederates had pushed the Union cavalrymen east to McPherson Ridge, when the vanguard of the I Corps (Maj. Gen. John F. Reynolds) finally arrived.[37]

North of the pike, Davis gained a temporary success against Brig. Gen. Lysander Cutler's brigade but was repulsed with heavy losses in an action around an unfinished railroad bed cut in the ridge. South of the pike, Archer's brigade assaulted through Herbst (also known as McPherson's) Woods. The Union Iron Brigade under Brig. Gen. Solomon Meredith enjoyed initial success against Archer, capturing several hundred men, including Archer himself.[38]

General Reynolds was shot and killed early in the fighting while directing troop and artillery placements just to the east of the woods. Shelby Foote wrote that the Union cause lost a man considered by many to be "the best general in the army."[39] Maj. Gen. Abner Doubleday assumed command. Fighting in the Chambersburg Pike area lasted until about 12:30 p.m. It resumed around 2:30 p.m., when Heth's entire division engaged, adding the brigades of Pettigrew and Col. John M. Brockenbrough.[40]

As Pettigrew's North Carolina Brigade came on line, they flanked the 19th Indiana and drove the Iron Brigade back. The 26th North Carolina (the largest regiment in the army with 839 men) lost heavily, leaving the first day's fight with around 212 men. By the end of the three-day battle, they had about 152 men standing, the highest casualty percentage for one battle of any regiment, North or South.[41] Slowly the Iron Brigade was pushed out of the woods toward Seminary Ridge. Hill added Maj. Gen. William Dorsey Pender's division to the assault, and the I Corps was driven back through the grounds of the Lutheran Seminary and Gettysburg streets.[42]

As the fighting to the west proceeded, two divisions of Ewell's Second Corps, marching west toward Cashtown in accordance with Lee's order for the army to concentrate in that vicinity, turned south on the Carlisle and Harrisburg roads toward Gettysburg, while the Union XI Corps (Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard) raced north on the Baltimore Pike and Taneytown Road. By early afternoon, the Union line ran in a semicircle west, north, and northeast of Gettysburg.[43]

However, the Union did not have enough troops; Cutler, whose brigade was deployed north of the Chambersburg Pike, had his right flank in the air. The leftmost division of the XI Corps was unable to deploy in time to strengthen the line, so Doubleday was forced to throw in reserve brigades to salvage his line.[44]

Around 2 p.m., the Confederate Second Corps divisions of Maj. Gens. Robert E. Rodes and Jubal Early assaulted and out-flanked the Union I and XI Corps positions north and northwest of town. The Confederate brigades of Col. Edward A. O'Neal and Brig. Gen. Alfred Iverson suffered severe losses assaulting the I Corps division of Brig. Gen. John C. Robinson south of Oak Hill. Early's division profited from a blunder by Brig. Gen. Francis C. Barlow, when he advanced his XI Corps division to Blocher's Knoll (directly north of town and now known as Barlow's Knoll); this represented a salient[45] in the corps line, susceptible to attack from multiple sides, and Early's troops overran Barlow's division, which constituted the right flank of the Union Army's position. Barlow was wounded and captured in the attack.[46]

As Union positions collapsed both north and west of town, Gen. Howard ordered a retreat to the high ground south of town at Cemetery Hill, where he had left the division of Brig. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr in reserve.[47] Maj. Gen. Winfield S. Hancock assumed command of the battlefield, sent by Meade when he heard that Reynolds had been killed. Hancock, commander of the II Corps and Meade's most trusted subordinate, was ordered to take command of the field and to determine whether Gettysburg was an appropriate place for a major battle.[48] Hancock told Howard, "I think this the strongest position by nature upon which to fight a battle that I ever saw." When Howard agreed, Hancock concluded the discussion: "Very well, sir, I select this as the battle-field." Hancock's determination had a morale-boosting effect on the retreating Union soldiers, but he played no direct tactical role on the first day.[49]

General Lee understood the defensive potential to the Union if they held this high ground. He sent orders to Ewell that Cemetery Hill be taken "if practicable." Ewell, who had previously served under Stonewall Jackson, a general well known for issuing peremptory orders, determined such an assault was not practicable and, thus, did not attempt it; this decision is considered by historians to be a great missed opportunity.[50]

The first day at Gettysburg, more significant than simply a prelude to the bloody second and third days, ranks as the 23rd biggest battle of the war by number of troops engaged. About one quarter of Meade's army (22,000 men) and one third of Lee's army (27,000) were engaged.[51]

Second day of battle

Robert E. Lee's plan for July 2, 1863

Plans and movement to battle

Throughout the evening of July 1 and morning of July 2, most of the remaining infantry of both armies arrived on the field, including the Union II, III, V, VI, and XII Corps. Two of Longstreet's brigades were on the road: Brig. Gen. George Pickett, had begun the 22 mile (35 km) march from Chambersburg, while Brig. Gen. E. M. Law had begun the march from Guilford. Both arrived late in the morning. Law completed his 28-mile (45 km) march in eleven hours.[52]

The Union line ran from Culp's Hill southeast of the town, northwest to Cemetery Hill just south of town, then south for nearly two miles (3 km) along Cemetery Ridge, terminating just north of Little Round Top. Most of the XII Corps was on Culp's Hill; the remnants of I and XI Corps defended Cemetery Hill; II Corps covered most of the northern half of Cemetery Ridge; and III Corps was ordered to take up a position to its flank. The shape of the Union line is popularly described as a "fishhook" formation.

The Confederate line paralleled the Union line about a mile (1,600 m) to the west on Seminary Ridge, ran east through the town, then curved southeast to a point opposite Culp's Hill. Thus, the Union army had interior lines, while the Confederate line was nearly five miles (8 km) long.[53]

Lee's battle plan for July 2 called for a general assault of Meade's positions. On the right, Longstreet's First Corps was to position itself to attack the Union left flank, facing northeast astraddle the Emmitsburg Road, and to roll up the Union line. The attack sequence was to begin with Maj. Gens. John Bell Hood's and Lafayette McLaws's divisions, followed by Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson's division of Hill's Third Corps.[54]

On the left, Lee instructed Ewell to position his Second Corps to attack Culp's Hill and Cemetery Hill when he heard the gunfire from Longstreet's assault, preventing Meade from shifting troops to bolster his left. Though it does not appear in either his or Lee's Official Report, Ewell claimed years later that Lee had changed the order to simultaneously attack, calling for only a "diversion", to be turned into a full-scale attack if a favorable opportunity presented itself.[55][56]

Lee's plan, however, was based on faulty intelligence, exacerbated by Stuart's continued absence from the battlefield. Though Lee personally reconnoitered his left during the morning, he did not visit Longstreet's position on the Confederate right. Even so, Lee rejected suggestions that Longstreet move beyond Meade's left and attack the Union flank, capturing the supply trains and effectively blocking Meade's escape route.[57]

Lee did not issue orders for the attack until 11:00 a.m.[58] About noon, General Anderson's advancing troops were discovered by General Sickles' outpost guard and the Third Corps–upon which Longstreet's First Corps was to form–did not get into position until 1:00 p.m.[59]

Hood and McLaws, after their long march, were not yet in position and did not launch their attacks until just after 4 p.m. and 5 p.m., respectively.[60]

Attacks on the Union left flank

Overview map of the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863

As Longstreet's left division, under Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws, advanced, they unexpectedly found Maj. Gen. Daniel Sickles's III Corps directly in their path. Sickles had been dissatisfied with the position assigned him on the southern end of Cemetery Ridge. Seeing ground better suited for artillery positions a half mile (800 m) to the west— centered at the Sherfy farm's Peach Orchard—he violated orders and advanced his corp to the slightly higher ground along the Emmitsburg Road, moving away from Cemetery Ridge. The new line ran from Devil's Den, northwest to the Peach Orchard, then northeast along the Emmitsburg Road to south of the Codori farm. This created an untenable salient at the Peach Orchard; Brig. Gen. Andrew A. Humphreys's division (in position along the Emmitsburg Road) and Maj. Gen. David B. Birney's division (to the south) were subject to attacks from two sides and were spread out over a longer front than their small corps could defend effectively.[61] The Confederate artillery was ordered to open fire at 3:00 p.m.[62] After failing to attend a meeting at this time of Meade's corps commanders, Meade rode to Sickles' position and demanded an explanation of the situation. Knowing a Confederate attack was imminent and a retreat would be endangered, Meade refused Sickles' offer to withdraw.[63]

Meade was forced to send 20,000 reinforcements:[64] the entire V Corps, Brig. Gen. John C. Caldwell's division of the II Corps, most of the XII Corps, and portions of the newly arrived VI Corps. Hood's division moved more to the east than intended, losing its alignment with the Emmitsburg Road,[65] attacking Devil's Den and Little Round Top. McLaws, coming in on Hood's left, drove multiple attacks into the thinly stretched III Corps in the Wheatfield and overwhelmed them in Sherfy's Peach Orchard. McLaws's attack eventually reached Plum Run Valley (the "Valley of Death") before being beaten back by the Pennsylvania Reserves division of the V Corps, moving down from Little Round Top. The III Corps was virtually destroyed as a combat unit in this battle, and Sickles's leg was amputated after it was shattered by a cannonball. Caldwell's division was destroyed piecemeal in the Wheatfield. Anderson's division, coming from McLaws's left and starting forward around 6 p.m., reached the crest of Cemetery Ridge, but could not hold the position in the face of counterattacks from the II Corps, including an almost suicidal bayonet charge by the 1st Minnesota regiment against a Confederate brigade, ordered in desperation by Hancock to buy time for reinforcements to arrive.[66]

As fighting raged in the Wheatfield and Devil's Den, Col. Strong Vincent of V Corps had a precarious hold on Little Round Top, an important hill at the extreme left of the Union line. His brigade of four relatively small regiments was able to resist repeated assaults by Brig. Gen. Evander M. Law's brigade of Hood's division. Meade's chief engineer, Brig. Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren, had realized the importance of this position, and dispatched Vincent's brigade, an artillery battery, and the 140th New York to occupy Little Round Top mere minutes before Hood's troops arrived. The defense of Little Round Top with a bayonet charge by the 20th Maine, ordered by Col. Joshua L. Chamberlain but possibly led by Lt. Holman S. Melcher, was one of the most fabled episodes in the Civil War and propelled Col. Chamberlain into prominence after the war.[67][68]

Attacks on the Union right flank

Union breastworks on Culp's Hill

Ewell interpreted his orders as calling only for a cannonade.[56] His 32 guns, along with A. P. Hill's 55 guns, engaged in a two-hour artillery barrage at extreme range that had little effect. Finally, about six o'clock, Ewell sent orders to each of his division commanders to attack the Union lines in his front.

Maj. Gen. Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's Division "had not been pushed close to [Culp's Hill] in preparation for an assault, although one had been contemplated all day. It now had a full mile (1,600 m) to advance and Rock Creek had to be crossed. This could only be done at few places and involved much delay. Only three of Johnson's four brigades moved to the attack." [69] Most of the hill's defenders, the Union XII Corps, had been sent to the left to defend against Longstreet's attacks, leaving only a brigade of New Yorkers under Brig. Gen. George S. Greene behind strong, newly constructed defensive works. With reinforcements from the I and XI Corps, Greene's men held off the Confederate attackers, though giving up some of the lower earthworks on the lower part of Culp's Hill.[70]

Early was similarly unprepared when he ordered Harry T. Hays' and Isaac E. Avery's Brigades to attack the Union XI Corps positions on East Cemetery Hill. Once started, fighting was fierce: Col. Andrew L. Harris of the Union 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, came under a withering attack, losing half his men. Avery was wounded early on, but the Confederates reached the crest of the hill and entered the Union breastworks, capturing one or two batteries. Seeing he was not supported on his right, Hays withdrew. His right was to be supported by Robert E. Rodes' Division, but Rodes—like Early and Johnson—had not been ordered up in preparation for the attack. He had twice as far to travel as Early; by the time he came in contact with the Union skirmish line, Early's troops had already begun to withdraw.[71]

Jeb Stuart and his three cavalry brigades arrived in Gettysburg around noon but had no role in the second day's battle. Brig. Gen. Wade Hampton's brigade fought a minor engagement with newly promoted 23-year-old Brig. Gen. George Armstrong Custer's Michigan cavalry near Hunterstown to the northeast of Gettysburg.[72]

Third day of battle

Overview map of the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863

Lee's plan

General Lee wished to renew the attack on Friday, July 3, using the same basic plan as the previous day: Longstreet would attack the Union left, while Ewell attacked Culp's Hill.[73] However, before Longstreet was ready, Union XII Corps troops started a dawn artillery bombardment against the Confederates on Culp's Hill in an effort to regain a portion of their lost works. The Confederates attacked, and the second fight for Culp's Hill ended around 11 a.m. Harry Pfanz judged that, after some seven hours of bitter combat, "the Union line was intact and held more strongly than before."[74]

Lee was forced to change his plans. Longstreet would command Pickett's Virginia division of his own First Corps, plus six brigades from Hill's Corps, in an attack on the Union II Corps position at the right center of the Union line on Cemetery Ridge. Prior to the attack, all the artillery the Confederacy could bring to bear on the Union positions would bombard and weaken the enemy's line.[75]

Much has been made over the years of General Longstreet's objections to General Lee's plan. In his memoirs, Longstreet described their discussion as follows:

[Lee] rode over after sunrise and gave his orders. His plan was to assault the enemy's left centre by a column to be composed of McLaws's and Hood's divisions reinforced by Pickett's brigades. I thought that it would not do; that the point had been fully tested the day before, by more men, when all were fresh; that the enemy was there looking for us, as we heard him during the night putting up his defences; that the divisions of McLaws and Hood were holding a mile [1,600 m] along the right of my line against twenty thousand men, who would follow their withdrawal, strike the flank of the assaulting column, crush it, and get on our rear towards the Potomac River; that thirty thousand men was the minimum of force necessary for the work; that even such force would need close co-operation on other parts of the line; that the column as he proposed to organize it would have only about thirteen thousand men (the divisions having lost a third of their numbers the day before); that the column would have to march a mile [1,600 m] under concentrating battery fire, and a thousand yards [900 m] under long-range musketry; that the conditions were different from those in the days of Napoleon, when field batteries had a range of six hundred yards [550 m] and musketry about sixty yards [55 m].

He said the distance was not more than fourteen hundred yards [1280 m]. General Meade's estimate was a mile or a mile and a half [1.6 or 2.4 km] (Captain Long, the guide of the field of Gettysburg in 1888, stated that it was a trifle over a mile). He then concluded that the divisions of McLaws and Hood could remain on the defensive line; that he would reinforce by divisions of the Third Corps and Pickett's brigades, and stated the point to which the march should be directed. I asked the strength of the column. He stated fifteen thousand. Opinion was then expressed that the fifteen thousand men who could make successful assault over that field had never been arrayed for battle; but he was impatient of listening, and tired of talking, and nothing was left but to proceed.[76]

The "High Water Mark" on Cemetery Ridge as it appears today. The monument to the 72nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry Regiment ("Baxter's Philadelphia Fire Zouaves") appears at right, the Copse of Trees to the left.

The largest artillery bombardment of the war

Around 1 p.m., from 150 to 170 Confederate guns began an artillery bombardment that was probably the largest of the war. In order to save valuable ammunition for the infantry attack that they knew would follow, the Army of the Potomac's artillery, under the command of Brig. Gen. Henry Jackson Hunt, at first did not return the enemy's fire. After waiting about 15 minutes, about 80 Union cannons added to the din. The Army of Northern Virginia was critically low on artillery ammunition, and the cannonade did not significantly affect the Union position.[77]

Pickett's Charge

Around 3 p.m., the cannon fire subsided, and 12,500 Southern soldiers stepped from the ridgeline and advanced the three-quarters of a mile (1,200 m) to Cemetery Ridge in what is known to history as "Pickett's Charge". As the Confederates approached, there was fierce flanking artillery fire from Union positions on Cemetery Hill and north of Little Round Top, and musket and canister fire from Hancock's II Corps. In the Union center, the commander of artillery had held fire during the Confederate bombardment (in order to save it for the infantry assault, which Meade had correctly predicted the day before), leading Southern commanders to believe the Northern cannon batteries had been knocked out. However, they opened fire on the Confederate infantry during their approach with devastating results. Nearly one half of the attackers did not return to their own lines.

Although the Union line wavered and broke temporarily at a jog called the "Angle" in a low stone fence, just north of a patch of vegetation called the Copse of Trees, reinforcements rushed into the breach, and the Confederate attack was repulsed. The farthest advance of Brig. Gen. Lewis A. Armistead's brigade of Maj. Gen. George Pickett's division at the Angle is referred to as the "High-water mark of the Confederacy", arguably representing the closest the South ever came to its goal of achieving independence from the Union via military victory.[78] Union and Confederate soldiers locked in hand-to-hand combat, attacking with their rifles, bayonets, rocks and even their bare hands. Armistead ordered his Confederates to turn two captured cannons against Union troops, but discovered that there was no ammunition left, the last double canister shots having been used against the charging Confederates. Armistead was wounded shortly afterward three times.

Cavalry battles

There were two significant cavalry engagements on July 3. Stuart was sent to guard the Confederate left flank and was to be prepared to exploit any success the infantry might achieve on Cemetery Hill by flanking the Union right and hitting their trains and lines of communications. Three miles (5 km) east of Gettysburg, in what is now called "East Cavalry Field" (not shown on the accompanying map, but between the York and Hanover Roads), Stuart's forces collided with Union cavalry: Brig. Gen. David McMurtrie Gregg's division and Brig. Gen. Custer's brigade. A lengthy mounted battle, including hand-to-hand sabre combat, ensued. Custer's charge, leading the 1st Michigan Cavalry, blunted the attack by Wade Hampton's brigade, blocking Stuart from achieving his objectives in the Union rear.

Meanwhile, after hearing news of the day's victory, Brig. Gen. Judson Kilpatrick launched a cavalry attack against the infantry positions of Longstreet's Corps southwest of Big Round Top. Brig. Gen. Elon J. Farnsworth protested against the futility of such a move, but obeyed orders. Farnsworth was killed in the attack, and his brigade suffered significant losses.[79]



"The Harvest of Death": Union dead on the battlefield at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, photographed July 5 or July 6, 1863, by Timothy H. O'Sullivan

The two armies suffered between 46,000 and 51,000 casualties, nearly one third of all total troops engaged, 28% of the Army of the Potomac and 37% of the Army of Northern Virginia.[80] Union casualties were 23,055 (3,155 killed, 14,531 wounded, 5,369 captured or missing),[8] while Confederate casualties are more difficult to estimate. Many authors have referred to as many as 28,000 Confederate casualties,[81] and Busey and Martin's more recent 2005 work, Regimental Strengths and Losses at Gettysburg, documents 23,231 (4,708 killed, 12,693 wounded, 5,830 captured or missing).[9] Nearly a third of Lee's general officers were killed, wounded, or captured.[82] The casualties for both sides during the entire campaign were 57,225.[83]

In addition to being the deadliest battle of the war, Gettysburg also had the highest number of generals killed in action. The Confederacy lost generals Paul Jones Semmes, William Barksdale, William Dorsey Pender, Richard Garnett, and Lewis Armistead, as well as J. Johnston Pettigrew during the retreat after the battle. The Union lost Generals John Reynolds, Samuel K. Zook, Stephen H. Weed, and Elon J. Farnsworth, as well as Strong Vincent, who after being mortally wounded was given a deathbed promotion to brigadier general. Additional senior officer casualties included the wounding of Union Generals Dan Sickles (lost a leg), Francis C. Barlow, Daniel Butterfield, and Winfield Scott Hancock. For the Confederacy, Major General John Bell Hood lost the use of his left arm, while Major General Henry Heth received a shot to the head on the first day of battle (though incapacitated for the rest of the battle, he remarkably survived without long term injuries, credited in part due to his hat stuffed full of paper dispatches). Confederate Generals James L. Kemper and Isaac R. Trimble were severely wounded during Pickett's charge and captured during the Confederate retreat. General James J. Archer, in command of a brigade that most likely was responsible for killing Reynolds, was taken prisoner shortly after Reynolds' death.

The following tables summarize casualties by corps for the Union and Confederate forces during the three-day battle.[84]

Union Corps Casualties (k/w/m)
I Corps 6059 (666/3231/2162)
II Corps 4369 (797/3194/378)
III Corps 4211 (593/3029/589)
V Corps 2187 (365/1611/211)
VI Corps 242 (27/185/30)
XI Corps 3807 (369/1924/1514)
XII Corps 1082 (204/812/66)
Cavalry Corps 852 (91/354/407)
Artillery Reserve 242 (43/187/12)
Confederate Corps Casualties (k/w/m)
First Corps 7665 (1617/4205/1843)
Second Corps 6686 (1301/3629/1756)
Third Corps 8495 (1724/4683/2088)
Cavalry Corps 380 (66/174/140)

Bruce Catton wrote, "The town of Gettysburg looked as if some universal moving day had been interrupted by catastrophe."[85] But there was only one documented civilian death during the battle: Ginnie Wade (also widely known as Jennie), 20 years old, was hit by a stray bullet that passed through her kitchen in town while she was making bread.[86] Another notable civilian casualty was John L. Burns, a 69-year old veteran of the War of 1812 who walked to the front lines on the first day of battle and participated in heavy combat as a volunteer, receiving numerous wounds in the process. Despite his age and injuries, Burns survived the battle and lived until 1872.[87] Nearly 8,000 had been killed outright; these bodies, lying in the hot summer sun, needed to be buried quickly. Over 3,000 horse carcasses[88] were burned in a series of piles south of town; townsfolk became violently ill from the stench.[89] Meanwhile, the town of Gettysburg, with its population of just 2,400, found itself tasked with taking care of 14,000 wounded Union troops and an additional 8,000 Confederate prisoners.[90]

Confederate retreat

Gettysburg Campaign (July 5 – July 14, 1863)

The armies stared at one another in a heavy rain across the bloody fields on July 4, the same day that, some 900 miles (1,500 km) away, the Vicksburg garrison surrendered to Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. Lee had reformed his lines into a defensive position on Seminary Ridge the night of July 3, evacuating the town of Gettysburg. The Confederates remained on the battlefield, hoping that Meade would attack, but the cautious Union commander decided against the risk, a decision for which he would later be criticized. Both armies began to collect their remaining wounded and bury some of the dead. A proposal by Lee for a prisoner exchange was rejected by Meade.[91]

Lee started his Army of Northern Virginia in motion late the evening of July 4 towards Fairfield and Chambersburg. Cavalry under Brig. Gen. John D. Imboden was entrusted to escort the miles-long wagon train of supplies and wounded men that Lee wanted to take back to Virginia with him, using the route through Cashtown and Hagerstown to Williamsport, Maryland. Meade's army followed, although the pursuit was half-spirited. The recently rain-swollen Potomac trapped Lee's army on the north bank of the river for a time, but when the Union troops finally caught up, the Confederates had forded the river. The rear-guard action at Falling Waters on July 14 added some more names to the long casualty lists, including General Pettigrew, who was mortally wounded.[92] General James L. Kemper, severely wounded during Pickett's charge, was captured during Lee's retreat.

In a brief letter to Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck written on July 7, Lincoln remarked on the two major Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg. He continued:

Now, if Gen. Meade can complete his work so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction of Lee's army, the rebellion will be over.[93]

Halleck then relayed the contents of Lincoln's letter to Meade in a telegram. However, the Army of the Potomac was exhausted by days of fighting and heavy losses. Furthermore, Meade was forced to detach 4,000 troops North to suppress the New York City Draft Riots[94], further reducing the effectiveness of his pursuit. Despite repeated pleas from Lincoln and Halleck, which continued over the next week, Meade did not pursue Lee's army aggressively enough to destroy it before it crossed back over the Potomac River to safety in the South. The campaign continued into Virginia with light engagements until July 23, in the minor Battle of Manassas Gap, after which Meade abandoned any attempts at pursuit and the two armies took up positions across from each other on the Rappahannock River.[95]

Union reaction to the news of the victory

The news of the Union victory electrified the North. A headline in The Philadelphia Inquirer proclaimed "VICTORY! WATERLOO ECLIPSED!" New York diarist George Templeton Strong wrote:[96]

The results of this victory are priceless. ... The charm of Robert E. Lee's invincibility is broken. The Army of the Potomac has at last found a general that can handle it, and has stood nobly up to its terrible work in spite of its long disheartening list of hard-fought failures. ... Copperheads are palsied and dumb for the moment at least. ... Government is strengthened four-fold at home and abroad.

— George Templeton Strong, Diary, p. 330.

However, the Union enthusiasm soon dissipated as the public realized that Lee's army had escaped destruction and the war would continue. Lincoln complained to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles that "Our army held the war in the hollow of their hand and they would not close it!"[97] Brig. Gen. Alexander S. Webb wrote to his father on July 17, stating that such Washington politicians as "Chase, Seward and others," disgusted with Meade, "write to me that Lee really won that Battle!"[98]

Effect on the Confederacy

In fact, the Confederates had lost militarily and also politically. During the final hours of the battle, Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens was approaching the Union lines at Norfolk, Virginia, under a flag of truce. Although his formal instructions from Confederate President Jefferson Davis had limited his powers to negotiate on prisoner exchanges and other procedural matters, historian James M. McPherson speculates that he had informal goals of presenting peace overtures. Davis had hoped that Stephens would reach Washington from the south while Lee's victorious army was marching toward it from the north. President Lincoln, upon hearing of the Gettysburg results, refused Stephens's request to pass through the lines. Furthermore, when the news reached London, any lingering hopes of European recognition of the Confederacy were finally abandoned. Henry Adams, whose father was serving as the U.S ambassador to the United Kingdom at the time, wrote, "The disasters of the rebels are unredeemed by even any hope of success. It is now conceded that all idea of intervention is at an end."[99]

Compounding the effects of the defeat would be the end of the Siege of Vicksburg, which surrendered to Grant's Federal armies in the West on July 4, the day after the Gettysburg battle.

The immediate reaction of the Southern military and public sectors was that Gettysburg was a setback, not a disaster. The sentiment was that Lee had been successful on July 1 and had fought a valiant battle on July 2–3, but could not dislodge the Union Army from the strong defensive position to which it fled. The Confederates successfully stood their ground on July 4 and withdrew only after they realized Meade would not attack them. The withdrawal to the Potomac that could have been a disaster was handled masterfully. Furthermore, the Army of the Potomac had been kept away from Virginia farmlands for the summer and all predicted that Meade would be too timid to threaten them for the rest of the year. Lee himself had a positive view of the campaign, writing to his wife that the army had returned "rather sooner than I had originally contemplated, but having accomplished what I proposed on leaving the Rappahannock, viz., relieving the Valley of the presence of the enemy and drawing his Army north of the Potomac." He was quoted as saying to Maj. John Seddon, brother of the Confederate secretary of war, "Sir, we did whip them at Gettysburg, and it will be seen for the next six months that that army will be as quiet as a sucking dove." Some Southern publications, such as the Charleston Mercury, were critical of Lee's actions. On August 8, Lee offered his resignation to President Davis, who quickly rejected it.[100]

Gettysburg became a postbellum focus of the "Lost Cause", a movement by writers such as Edward A. Pollard and Jubal Early to explain the reasons for the Confederate defeat in the war. A fundamental premise of their argument was that the South was doomed because of the overwhelming advantage in manpower and industrial might possessed by the North. They also contend that Robert E. Lee, who up until this time had been almost invincible, was betrayed by the failures of some of his key subordinates at Gettysburg: Ewell, for failing to seize Cemetery Hill on July 1; Stuart, for depriving the army of cavalry intelligence for a key part of the campaign; and especially Longstreet, for failing to attack on July 2 as early and as forcefully as Lee had originally intended. In this view, Gettysburg was seen as a great lost opportunity, in which a decisive victory by Lee could have meant the end of the war in the Confederacy's favor.[101]

After the war, General Pickett was asked why Confederates lost at Gettysburg. He was reported to have said, "I always thought the Yankees had something to do with it."[102]

Gettysburg Address

Gettysburg, November 19, 1863. Crowd of citizens, soldiers, and etc., with a red arrow indicating Abraham Lincoln

The ravages of war were still evident in Gettysburg more than four months later when, on November 19, the Soldiers' National Cemetery was dedicated. During this ceremony, President Abraham Lincoln honored the fallen and redefined the purpose of the war in his historic Gettysburg Address.[103]

Medal of Honor

There were 72 Medals of Honor awarded for the Gettysburg Campaign. 64, the great majority of those, were for services during the battle itself. With the first badge being awarded in December 1864; the currently final awarding was in 2014 when it was, of course posthumously, given to Lieutenant Alonzo Cushing.[104]

Historical assessment

Decisive victory controversies

The nature of the result of the Battle of Gettysburg has been the subject of controversy for years[when?]. Although not seen as overwhelmingly significant at the time, particularly since the war continued for almost two years, in retrospect it has often been cited as the "turning point", usually in combination with the fall of Vicksburg the following day.[13] This is based on the observation that, after Gettysburg, Lee's army conducted no more strategic offensives—his army merely reacted to the initiative of Ulysses S. Grant in 1864 and 1865—and by the speculative viewpoint of the Lost Cause writers that a Confederate victory at Gettysburg might have resulted in the end of the war.[105]

[The Army of the Potomac] had won a victory. It might be less of a victory than Mr. Lincoln had hoped for, but it was nevertheless a victory—and, because of that, it was no longer possible for the Confederacy to win the war. The North might still lose it, to be sure, if the soldiers or the people should lose heart, but outright defeat was no longer in the cards.

Bruce Catton, Glory Road[106]

It is currently a widely held view that Gettysburg was a decisive victory for the Union, but the term is considered imprecise. It is inarguable that Lee's offensive on July 3 was turned back decisively and his campaign in Pennsylvania was terminated prematurely (although the Confederates at the time argued that this was a temporary setback and that the goals of the campaign were largely met). However, when the more common definition of "decisive victory" is intended—an indisputable military victory of a battle that determines or significantly influences the ultimate result of a conflict—historians are divided. For example, David J. Eicher called Gettysburg a "strategic loss for the Confederacy" and James M. McPherson wrote that "Lee and his men would go on to earn further laurels. But they never again possessed the power and reputation they carried into Pennsylvania those palmy summer days of 1863."[107]

However, Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones wrote that the "strategic impact of the Battle of Gettysburg was ... fairly limited." Steven E. Woodworth wrote that "Gettysburg proved only the near impossibility of decisive action in the Eastern theater." Edwin Coddington pointed out the heavy toll on the Army of the Potomac and that "after the battle Meade no longer possessed a truly effective instrument for the accomplishments of his task. The army needed a thorough reorganization with new commanders and fresh troops, but these changes were not made until Grant appeared on the scene in March 1864." Joseph T. Glatthaar wrote that "Lost opportunities and near successes plagued the Army of Northern Virginia during its Northern invasion," yet after Gettysburg, "without the distractions of duty as an invading force, without the breakdown of discipline, the Army of Northern Virginia [remained] an extremely formidable force." Ed Bearss wrote, "Lee's invasion of the North had been a costly failure. Nevertheless, at best the Army of the Potomac had simply preserved the strategic stalemate in the Eastern Theater ..."[108] Furthermore, the Confederacy soon proved it was still capable of winning significant victories over the Northern forces in both the East (Battle of Cold Harbor) and West (Battle of Chickamauga).

Peter Carmichael refers to the military context for the armies, the "horrendous losses at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, which effectively destroyed Lee's offensive capacity," implying that these cumulative losses were not the result of a single battle. Thomas Goss, writing in the U.S. Army's Military Review journal on the definition of "decisive" and the application of that description to Gettysburg, concludes: "For all that was decided and accomplished, the Battle of Gettysburg fails to earn the label 'decisive battle'."[109] The military historian John Keegan agrees. Gettysburg was a landmark battle, the largest of the war and it would not be surpassed. The Union had restored to it the belief in certain victory, and the loss dispirited the Confederacy. If "not exactly a decisive battle", Gettysburg was the end of Confederate use of Northern Virginia as a military buffer zone, the setting for Grant's Overland Campaign.[110]

Lee vs. Meade

Photo of a balding and bearded George Meade in a military uniform. The somewhat thin figure is standing while holding a kepi.
George G. Meade

Prior to Gettysburg, Robert E. Lee had established a reputation as an almost invincible general, achieving stunning victories against superior numbers—although usually at the cost of high casualties to his army—during the Seven Days, the Northern Virginia Campaign (including the Second Battle of Bull Run), Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. Only the Maryland Campaign, with its tactically inconclusive Battle of Antietam, had been less than successful. Therefore, historians have attempted to explain how Lee's winning streak was interrupted so dramatically at Gettysburg. Although the issue is tainted by attempts to portray history and Lee's reputation in a manner supporting different partisan goals, the major factors in Lee's loss arguably can be attributed to: (1) his overconfidence in the invincibility of his men; (2) the performance of his subordinates, and his management thereof; (3) his failing health, and (4) the performance of his opponent, George G. Meade, and the Army of the Potomac.

Photo of white-haired and bearded Robert E. Lee in a double breasted gray uniform with three stars on his collar
Robert E. Lee

Throughout the campaign, Lee was influenced by the belief that his men were invincible; most of Lee's experiences with the Army of Northern Virginia had convinced him of this, including the great victory at Chancellorsville in early May and the rout of the Union troops at Gettysburg on July 1. Since morale plays an important role in military victory when other factors are equal, Lee did not want to dampen his army's desire to fight and resisted suggestions, principally by Longstreet, to withdraw from the recently captured Gettysburg to select a ground more favorable to his army. War correspondent Peter W. Alexander wrote that Lee "acted, probably, under the impression that his troops were able to carry any position however formidable. If such was the case, he committed an error, such however as the ablest commanders will sometimes fall into." Lee himself concurred with this judgment, writing to President Davis, "No blame can be attached to the army for its failure to accomplish what was projected by me, nor should it be censured for the unreasonable expectations of the public—I am alone to blame, in perhaps expecting too much of its prowess and valor."[111]

The most controversial assessments of the battle involve the performance of Lee's subordinates. The dominant theme of the Lost Cause writers and many other historians is that Lee's senior generals failed him in crucial ways, directly causing the loss of the battle; the alternative viewpoint is that Lee did not manage his subordinates adequately, and did not thereby compensate for their shortcomings.[112] Two of his corps commanders—Richard S. Ewell and A.P. Hill—had only recently been promoted and were not fully accustomed to Lee's style of command, in which he provided only general objectives and guidance to their former commander, Stonewall Jackson; Jackson translated these into detailed, specific orders to his division commanders.[113] All four of Lee's principal commanders received criticism during the campaign and battle:[114]

  • James Longstreet suffered most severely from the wrath of the Lost Cause authors, not the least because he directly criticized Lee in postbellum writings and became a Republican after the war. His critics accuse him of attacking much later than Lee intended on July 2, squandering a chance to hit the Union Army before its defensive positions had firmed up. They also question his lack of motivation to attack strongly on July 2 and 3 because he had argued that the army should have maneuvered to a place where it would force Meade to attack them. The alternative view is that Lee was in close contact with Longstreet during the battle, agreed to delays on the morning of July 2, and never criticized Longstreet's performance. (There is also considerable speculation about what an attack might have looked like before Dan Sickles moved the III Corps toward the Peach Orchard.)[115]
  • J.E.B. Stuart deprived Lee of cavalry intelligence during a good part of the campaign by taking his three best brigades on a path away from the army's. This arguably led to Lee's surprise at Hooker's vigorous pursuit; the engagement on July 1 that escalated into the full battle prematurely; and it also prevented Lee from understanding the full disposition of the enemy on July 2. The disagreements regarding Stuart's culpability for the situation originate in the relatively vague orders issued by Lee, but most modern historians agree that both generals were responsible to some extent for the failure of the cavalry's mission early in the campaign.[116]
  • Richard S. Ewell has been universally criticized for failing to seize the high ground on the afternoon of July 1. Once again the disagreement centers on Lee's orders, which provided general guidance for Ewell to act "if practicable." Many historians speculate that Stonewall Jackson, if he had survived Chancellorsville, would have aggressively seized Culp's Hill, rendering Cemetery Hill indefensible, and changing the entire complexion of the battle. A differently worded order from Lee might have made the difference with this subordinate.[117]
  • A.P. Hill has received some criticism for his ineffective performance. His actions caused the battle to begin and then escalate on July 1, despite Lee's orders not to bring on a general engagement (although historians point out that Hill kept Lee well informed of his actions during the day). However, Hill's illness minimized his personal involvement in the remainder of the battle, and Lee took the explicit step of temporarily removing troops from Hill's corps and giving them to Longstreet for Pickett's Charge.[118]
Photo of dark-haired and bearded Winfield S. Hancock in a dark uniform with a determined look
Winfield S. Hancock

In addition to Hill's illness, Lee's performance was affected by heart troubles, which would eventually lead to his death in 1870; he had been diagnosed with pericarditis by his staff physicians in March 1863, though modern doctors believe he had in fact suffered a heart attack.[119] He wrote to Jefferson Davis that his physical condition prevented him from offering full supervision in the field, and said, "I am so dull that in making use of the eyes of others I am frequently misled."[120]

As a final factor, Lee faced a new and formidable opponent in George G. Meade, and the Army of the Potomac fought well on its home territory. Although new to his army command, Meade deployed his forces relatively effectively; relied on strong subordinates such as Winfield S. Hancock to make decisions where and when they were needed; took great advantage of defensive positions; nimbly shifted defensive resources on interior lines to parry strong threats; and, unlike some of his predecessors, stood his ground throughout the battle in the face of fierce Confederate attacks.

Lee was quoted before the battle as saying Meade "would commit no blunders on my front and if I make one ... will make haste to take advantage of it." That prediction proved to be correct at Gettysburg. Stephen Sears wrote, "The fact of the matter is that George G. Meade, unexpectedly and against all odds, thoroughly outgeneraled Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg." Edwin B. Coddington wrote that the soldiers of the Army of the Potomac received a "sense of triumph which grew into an imperishable faith in [themselves]. The men knew what they could do under an extremely competent general; one of lesser ability and courage could well have lost the battle."[121]

Meade had his own detractors as well. Similar to the situation with Lee, Meade suffered partisan attacks about his performance at Gettysburg, but he had the misfortune of experiencing them in person. Supporters of his predecessor, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, lambasted Meade before the U.S. Congress's Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War, where Radical Republicans suspected that Meade was a Copperhead and tried in vain to relieve him from command. Daniel E. Sickles and Daniel Butterfield accused Meade of planning to retreat from Gettysburg during the battle. Most politicians, including Lincoln, criticized Meade for what they considered to be his half-hearted pursuit of Lee after the battle. A number of Meade's most competent subordinates—Winfield S. Hancock, John Gibbon, Gouverneur K. Warren, and Henry J. Hunt, all heroes of the battle—defended Meade in print, but Meade was embittered by the overall experience.[122]

Battlefield preservation

CW Arty M1857 Napoleon front.jpg
M1857 12-Pounder "Napoleon" at Gettysburg National Military Park Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
LocationAdams, Pennsylvania, United States