The Civil War started in 1861 when several Southern states left the United States because they felt that the government was oppressing the rights the Southern states. More specifically, they wanted to be able to practice slavery. Until Gettysburg, the Southern army, led by Robert E. Lee, was able to successfully defend the South time after. The South was doing doing so well, in fact, that people in both the North and the South thought that soon the Confederate States of America (the rebelling southern states) would be independent.
In June of 1863, Lee invaded the North with the Army of North Virgina for several reasons. First, he wanted the Northern army to follow him away from Richmond, Virginia, to give the capital some "breathing room." Second, he wanted to use the Pennsylvania farmlands to feed his starving army. Last, but not least, Lee wanted to close the war by beating the Army of the Potomac (the main northern army) in a single battle, and then marching to Washington, D.C. to "lay terms of peace on Abraham Lincoln's (the current U.S.A. president) desk."
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