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Though the Brutal Conflict Raged on For Four Dark Years, the outcome of the struggle hinged on the decisions of politicians and the actions of generals in the first half of 1863. This crucible period began with the Confederate retreat from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in early January, and climaxed with two campaigns that still ring today with the echoes of cannon fire and gunshots-Gettysburg and Vicksburg. Before these critical months the scales had been tipping favorably for the South, but neither side could afford to lose these two critical campaigns. It was all or nothing, and the stakes couldn't be higher.
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