The original Gettysburg address was a disaster: no one expected Lincoln to show up, he wasn't the key speaker, and the reaction from the audience was so muted that he considered the speech a failure! After the Battle at Gettysburg ended, there were thousands of corpses lying in the fields. They stank, they were bloating, and flies and marauding pigs were feasting on them. The dead soldiers needed a proper resting place and burial of sorts.
Abraham Lincoln badly wanted to be at the Gettysburg ceremony that David Wills, a lawyer in Pennsylvania was appointed to plan. He saw it as a great opportunity to get the Union boys pumped up again after such a devastating battle. Lincoln wasn’t even a featured speaker planned for the ceremony. Edward Everett, a well-known orator was the chosen speaker for the event, actually. Lincoln was invited at the last minute to attend the ceremony and believed to be too busy to actually come to it.
About 15,000 to 20,000 people came to the ceremony and crowded the platform. Everett spoke for two hours and then Lincoln got up and spoke for about 2 minutes. The crowd didn’t really make a response to Lincoln’s speech and he thought it was an utter failure. The next day Everett wrote him praising his speech and as time went on and people got ahold of the speech through the newspapers it was established how amazing his speech really was.