The turning point of the Civil War – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. July 3rd was the final day of the 3-day battle in 1863. It could have gone either way. Luck, good and bad decisions, indecisiveness all played a role in the outcome.

How did two huge armies come together in a small town?

The south wanted to bring the battle to the north and cut northern supply lines. But there was another thing they wanted. Shoes.

Pennsylvania was famous for making shoes with dozens of shoe factories. Many southern soldiers just didn’t have any or the ones they had were worn out. So when some Confederate soldiers marching toward Gettysburg met Union soldiers on horseback the fight was on.

The bulk of the Union army already knew the Confederates were moving north. They weren’t exactly sure where they were, but with that chance meeting of the two groups west of town the Union started setting defensive positions to defend Gettysburg.

It was brutal. There were more than 51,000 casualties at Gettysburg. The South lost more than a third of its army. Union forces lost more than a quarter.

And it started over shoes. The sad thing is that Gettysburg didn’t have a shoe factory. There were a few stores in town that had a small selection of shoes, but not enough for any army. Most of Pennsylvania’s shoe factories were a hundred miles to the east.