1 July 1863

American Civil War: The Battle of Gettysburg begins.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a significant battle fought from July 1 to July 3, 1863, during the American Civil War. It took place in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. This battle is often considered the turning point of the Civil War because it marked the last major Confederate attempt to invade the North.

The Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Major General George G. Meade.
The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, led by General Robert E. Lee.

General Lee sought to bring the war into the North to relieve pressure on Virginia’s farmlands during the harvest season and to sway Northern public opinion against continuing the war.
Lee’s army moved into Pennsylvania, with the hope of winning a decisive victory on Northern soil.

Battle Overview:
Day 1 (July 1, 1863): Confederate forces attacked Union cavalry, initially gaining ground. However, Union reinforcements arrived, and they retreated to stronger positions on high ground south of the town.
Day 2 (July 2, 1863): Fighting occurred at locations such as Little Round Top, the Wheatfield, Devil’s Den, and the Peach Orchard. Despite fierce fighting, the Union lines held.
Day 3 (July 3, 1863): The battle’s climax came with Pickett’s Charge, where about 12,500 Confederate soldiers made a direct assault on the center of the Union lines at Cemetery Ridge. The charge was repulsed with heavy Confederate losses.

The Union victory at Gettysburg ended Lee’s invasion of the North.
The Confederates suffered around 28,000 casualties (killed, wounded, captured, or missing), about one-third of Lee’s army.
Union forces had approximately 23,000 casualties.
The battle was one of the bloodiest in American history.

The Union victory bolstered Northern morale and weakened the Confederacy’s ability to wage war.
It marked a turning point in the Civil War, as Confederate forces were largely on the defensive thereafter.
The Gettysburg Address, delivered by President Abraham Lincoln four months later, further emphasized the significance of the battle and redefined the purpose of the war, highlighting the principles of liberty and equality.

1 July 1903

Start of first Tour de France bicycle race.

The Tour de France is one of the most prestigious and grueling bicycle races in the world. It was first organized in 1903 by newspaper L’Auto as a means to boost sales. The race quickly gained popularity and became an annual event, with a few interruptions due to the two World Wars. The first Tour de France took place in 1903 and consisted of six stages covering a total distance of 2,428 kilometers. The race was initially designed as a test of endurance for professional cyclists and attracted 60 participants. The winner was Maurice Garin, a French cyclist. The early years of the Tour de France were marked by a mix of triumphs and challenges. The race faced financial difficulties, and there were allegations of cheating and illegal practices. Nonetheless, the Tour gained popularity among the public and media.

The Tour de France expanded its route and duration over the years. It introduced new stages and mountain climbs to challenge the riders. One of the most iconic features of the race is the inclusion of the mountain stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps, which test the cyclists’ climbing abilities. The 1950s and 1960s are often referred to as the “golden era” of the Tour de France. During this period, legendary cyclists like Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Miguel Indurain emerged as multiple winners of the race. They became household names and helped popularize the sport of cycling. The Tour de France has not been without its share of scandals and controversies. Doping has been a persistent issue, with several riders being caught and disqualified over the years. The most significant doping scandal in Tour history involved Lance Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven consecutive titles from 1999 to 2005 due to doping offenses. In recent years, the Tour de France has continued to captivate audiences worldwide. The race has witnessed intense competition among top teams and riders from various countries. New stars like Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Egan Bernal have emerged, showcasing their skills and battling for the coveted yellow jersey.

While the men’s race has a long-standing history, the women’s Tour de France faced a more challenging path. Women’s cycling struggled to gain recognition and equality in terms of race opportunities and prize money. However, in 2022, the inaugural edition of the Women’s Tour de France was held, marking a significant step forward for women’s professional cycling.

Throughout its history, the Tour de France has become an iconic sporting event, showcasing the athleticism, perseverance, and determination of professional cyclists. It has evolved into a global spectacle that attracts millions of spectators both on-site and through television broadcasts, solidifying its status as one of the most prestigious races in the world.

1 July 1770

Lexell’s Comet is seen closer to the Earth than any other comet in recorded history, approaching to a distance of 0.0146 astronomical units (2,180,000 km; 1,360,000 mi)

1 July 1903

The first Tour de France bicycle race start.

The 1903 Tour de France was the first cycling race set up and sponsored by the newspaper L’Auto, ancestor of the current daily, L’Équipe. It ran from 1 to 19 July in six stages over 2,428 km, and was won by Maurice Garin.

The race was invented to boost the circulation of L’Auto, after its circulation started to plummet from competition with the long-standing Le Vélo. Originally scheduled to start in June, the race was postponed one month, and the prize money was increased, after a disappointing level of applications from competitors. The 1903 Tour de France was the first stage road race, and compared to modern Grand Tours, it had relatively few stages, but each was much longer than those raced today. The cyclists did not have to compete in all six stages, although this was necessary to qualify for the general classification.

The pre-race favourite, Maurice Garin, won the first stage, and retained the lead throughout. He also won the last two stages, and had a margin of almost three hours over the next cyclist. The circulation of L’Auto increased more than sixfold during and after the race, so the race was considered successful enough to be rerun in 1904, by which time Le Vélo had been forced out of business.

After the Dreyfus affair separated advertisers from the newspaper Le Vélo, a new newspaper L’Auto-Vélo was founded in 1900, with former cyclist Henri Desgrange as editor. After being forced to change the name of the newspaper to L’Auto in 1903, Desgrange needed something to keep the cycling fans; with circulation at 20,000, he could not afford to lose them.

When Desgrange and young employee Géo Lefèvre were returning from the Marseille–Paris cycling race, Lefèvre suggested holding a race around France, similar to the popular six-day races on the track. Desgrange proposed the idea to the financial controller Victor Goddet, who gave his approval, and on 19 January 1903, the Tour de France was announced in L’Auto.

It was to have been a five-week race, from 1 June to 5 July, with an entry fee of 20 francs. These conditions attracted very few cyclists: one week before the race was due to start, only 15 competitors had signed up. Desgrange then rescheduled the race from 1 to 19 July, increased the total prize money to 20,000 francs, reduced the entry fee to 10 francs and guaranteed at least five francs a day to the first 50 cyclists in the classification. After that, 79 cyclists signed up for the race, of whom 60 actually started the race.

Géo Lefévre became the director, judge and time-keeper; Henri Desgrange was the directeur-général, although he did not follow the race.

1 July 1863

The Battle of Gettysburg begins.


The largest military conflict in North American history begins this day when Union and Confederate forces collide at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The epic battle lasted three days and resulted in a retreat to Virginia by Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.

Two months prior to Gettysburg, Lee had dealt a stunning defeat to the Army of the Potomac at Chancellorsville, Virginia. He then made plans for a Northern invasion in order to relieve pressure on war-weary Virginia and to seize the initiative from the Yankees. His army, numbering about 80,000, began moving on June 3. The Army of the Potomac, commanded by Joseph Hooker and numbering just under 100,000, began moving shortly thereafter, staying between Lee and Washington, D.C. But on June 28, frustrated by the Lincoln administration’s restrictions on his autonomy as commander, Hooker resigned and was replaced by George G. Meade.

Meade took command of the Army of the Potomac as Lee’s army moved into Pennsylvania. On the morning of July 1, advance units of the forces came into contact with one another just outside of Gettysburg. The sound of battle attracted other units, and by noon the conflict was raging. During the first hours of battle, Union General John Reynolds was killed, and the Yankees found that they were outnumbered. The battle lines ran around the northwestern rim of Gettysburg. The Confederates applied pressure all along the Union front, and they slowly drove the Yankees through the town.

By evening, the Federal troops rallied on high ground on the southeastern edge of Gettysburg. As more troops arrived, Meade’s army formed a three-mile long, fishhook-shaped line running from Culp’s Hill on the right flank, along Cemetery Hill and Cemetery Ridge, to the base of Little Round Top. The Confederates held Gettysburg, and stretched along a six-mile arc around the Union position. Lee’s forces would continue to batter each end of the Union position, before launching the infamous Pickett’s Charge against the Union center on July 3.