The bold signatures on the Declaration of L Independence registered the birth of a nation on July 4, 1776, as every Fourth of July orator is proud to relate. But the oratory frequently overlooks the fact that another Glorious Fourth—July 4, 1863—marked the climax of the battle to preserve the Union. In the west on that day, after a six-week siege, Confederate Vicksburg fell to General Ulysses S. Grant. And in the east, General Robert E. Lee's forces began their sad retreat south across the Potomac after three days of the biggest and bloodiest...

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