Note: The annual anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg was this weekend. To commemorate that, we are posting, with permission, excerpts from Battlelines: Gettysburg, that describe aspects of the battle. Battlelines: Gettysburg contains the battlefield drawings of Alfred Waud and Edwin Forbes, the only two artists who witnessed the battle.
A hard, driving rain drenched Gettysburg on July 4, 1863.
The rain was both merciful and burdensome. It was merciful in that it provided relief from the stifling heat of the previous days. More importantly, it discouraged both armies from attacking each other.
It was burdensome because many of the dead and wounded were still lying exposed to the elements or without adequate shelter, and for those still living the rain could not have been helpful. The rain was yet another obstacle in cleaning up the battlefield, finding the dead and wounded, and in getting the army ready to move when the commanders decided it was time.
Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia stood ready to receive an attack from the Army of the Potomac. In some Confederate quarters, there was even hope that this would happen. Southerners still wanted to inflict some pain on their Union counterparts.