Does a Decisive Confederate Victory at Gettysburg Lead to Confederate Independence?

Does a Decisive Confederate Victory at Gettysburg Lead to Confederate Independence?

  • Yes

    Votes: 5 9.1%
  • Probably, but not necessarily

    Votes: 5 9.1%
  • Maybe

    Votes: 7 12.7%
  • Perhaps, but probably not

    Votes: 18 32.7%
  • No

    Votes: 20 36.4%

  • Total voters
    55

JeffBrooks

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Assume, for the sake of argument, that Lee achieves a victory at Gettysburg compare to Second Manassas. Exactly how is not really important. The Army of the Potomac is driven away from the battlefield in confused, humiliating rout.

Does this lead to Confederate independence?
 

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jackt62

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Probably not. Don't forget that in this scenario, at the same moment the Union forces the surrender of Vicksburg and the Army of Mississippi, an event that would very likely even out a Union loss at Gettysburg. Moreover, a victorious ANV in Pennsylvania would probably not have been able to achieve the complete surrender or destruction of Meade's AOTP, which most likely would have been able to fight another day. The ANV's supply line would have remained perilous and would most likely result in that army's withdrawal back to Virginia. Given these realities, a Union loss at Gettysburg, while serious indeed, would not have changed the overall strategic situation much.
 

GwilymT

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It would depend... is the Army of the Potomac in tact, albeit defeated and confused, or is it destroyed?

Even if it’s completely destroyed as a fighting force, it’s doubtful the war ends there.

The common idea is that a victory like this as imagined would prompt European Powers to recognize the CSA. Even if Britain or France recognized the CSA and applied diplomatic pressure on the USA to reach a settlement, the USA can still refuse. It does not follow that European Powers necessarily intervene militarily on behalf of the CSA, that is still a giant leap. Further, even if they do, and the USA continues the fight, there is no guarantee that a CSA/European alliance wins..., though any European power allying itself with the CSA given the CSA’s stated reasons for existence is quite a stretch.
 
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John S. Carter

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Assume, for the sake of argument, that Lee achieves a victory at Gettysburg compare to Second Manassas. Exactly how is not really important. The Army of the Potomac is driven away from the battlefield in confused, humiliating rout.

Does this lead to Confederate independence?
This was a battle that was between two armies,Both sides had other armies in the field,The only way that that this would have resulted in Confederate independence would have been if Lee would have marched West and taken Grant at Vicksburg there by defeating the two major armies of the North,The question is with the defeat of both armies would Lincoln sue for Peace and under what conditions would he be willing to grant independence? He more than likely marched on Washington but that would have accomplished little as with the British/Grant would be forced to march EAST there by saving Vicksburg,that would be the major result.
 
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John Winn

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Lee couldn't remain in Pennsylvania for long, even living off the land so he was gambling that the resolve of the Union would crack or maybe a European power might break the blockade eventually leading to some kind of truce. I personally think that was wishful thinking. As to European intervention that would have taken some time so Lee still would have had to retreat back to Virginia before it happened. Thus, he was really gambling on Union resolve being broken and a truce.

I certainly can see that if Lee had won and, say, captured Harrisburg many might have lobbied for a truce but I just think Lincoln and his generals would have determined that Lee couldn't stay in Pennsylvania, that they could mount a superior force fairly quickly with good supply lines, and that as many or more than lobbied for a truce would become motivated to repel the ANV.
 

CanadianCanuck

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While a victory at Gettysburg would have been very impressive for its propoganda value, it would not have been a strategic win. Lee cannot stay in Pennsylvania, and even something like raiding the railroads near Baltimore, while menacing, would not lead to victory. This would certainly have an impact on elections in 1863-64, and the pro-recognition groups in Britain and France would definitely begin to put pressure on the Union government. But, this still has to be translated into a long term goal by Lee, otherwise it is just an impressive victory which is probably followed by a Union counter attack later in August/September when Lee withdraws to Virginia.
 

Desert Kid

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While a victory at Gettysburg would have been very impressive for its propoganda value, it would not have been a strategic win. Lee cannot stay in Pennsylvania, and even something like raiding the railroads near Baltimore, while menacing, would not lead to victory. This would certainly have an impact on elections in 1863-64, and the pro-recognition groups in Britain and France would definitely begin to put pressure on the Union government. But, this still has to be translated into a long term goal by Lee, otherwise it is just an impressive victory which is probably followed by a Union counter attack later in August/September when Lee withdraws to Virginia.
A victory at Gettysburg means the First or Second day is the POD. Which means Lee still has a decent chunk of his army not destroyed in Pickett's Charge. Better footing overall for the campaigns of late 1863. Basically, the Wilderness, with Lee having a better equipped, slightly larger army with better morale and the propaganda victory he scored in Pennsylvania still on everybody's mind.
 

thomas aagaard

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A victory on day one just result in Meade falling back with most of his army intact and ready to fight.

But if we imagine that Longstreet attack on the 2nd and route the union army, and it Flee towards Baltimore. (and not Washington)
Lee capture large quantities of food and more importantly the artillery train with its ammunition, forges and horses. (so his artillery is in better condition than when the campaign started)

But even then, do Lee have the strength to attack the forts defending Washington that is properly manned? (unlike in 1864 when grant removed the heavy artillery regiments)

I have a hard time seeing the federal army completely destroyed. But lets say it is out of action for 2-3 weeks...

Can Lee force a peace during that time? By besieging Washington? Not sure.

Lincoln would not give in. The question is if some of the states say stop. by refusing to send more men to the army. If some congress members try to pass bills saying Lincoln should end the war or similar.
 
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steve59p

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As others have said it depends on the circumstances. If the AotP is pretty much destroyed as a fighting force and a lot of supplies and equipment captured then its a big boost to the rebels, both materially and morale wise and possibly more importantly a big hit for the union, especially in the 2nd category. Given that this is also the period of the draft riots in New York it could be that there is a turning against continuation of the war in a number of states in the north. Lincoln and the hard line Republicans are determined to fight on but how far can they go before something breaks. The victory at Vicksburg os very importany for the north economically and supply wise but it won't carry as much weight for the dominant eastern coastal population as the defeat of their main army in the east and the precived threat to the east.

I don't think it will win the war immediately, especially with the loss of Vicksburg, but there's the possibility that if could start a real slippage of support for war in the north which sometime between a few months and the 1864 elections might be decisive. If Lee's force is better equipped and the union has to scrape up new men and equipment, including probably moving men from the victory in the west how much does it weaken later union operations in the west? Its nowhere near the threat that such a defeat the year before would have had as the north has not only imported a lot of weapons from Europe but has ramped up its own production dramatically.

Or as others have said it could even backfire for the south. If it makes Lee and his army or their political command over-confident he could have a much bloodier repulse and a drastic collapse in southern morale. Not sure about if Grant is sent east earlier as I've seen comments he relied a lot of frontal attacks and a number of battles with heavy casualty lists, even if technically victories could further undermine northern moral.
 

Carronade

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Assume, for the sake of argument, that Lee achieves a victory at Gettysburg compare to Second Manassas. Exactly how is not really important. The Army of the Potomac is driven away from the battlefield in confused, humiliating rout.

Does this lead to Confederate independence?
You may have answered your own question; after all, Second Manassas didn't lead to Confederate independence, nor did any other Federal defeat.

Unless there was some means of communication I am not aware of, Pemberton would not know of Lee's victory in time to preclude the surrender of Vicksburg and his army, or Port Arthur. That wouldn't have quite the dramatic effect of Lee's army running wild in the East, but it would be a counterpoise to the Confederate success.
 

Irishtom29

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It may have shortened the war by Congress immediately promoting Grant to overall command and given him 100% control. He might have moved east with McPherson and Ord immediately and the fight would have moved to No. Carolina.
Indeed, I've had the same thought. If Grant came east with most of the Army of the Tennessee in response to a Federal defeat in the east the war might then be shortened. If the 9th and 16th Corps went on lockdown mode in the west and Grant came east with the 13th, 15th and 17th Corps...imagine Grant going against Lee with the energetic Ord, Sherman and McPherson his corps commanders. And the Potomac army would still be in play.
 

Irishtom29

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Unless there was some means of communication I am not aware of, Pemberton would not know of Lee's victory in time to preclude the surrender of Vicksburg and his army...
Had Pemberton not surrendered Vicksburg would've been taken by assault. Federal approaches were at the rebel ditches in several spots and some mines were ready to be blown too.
 

CSA Today

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Vicksburg would have suddenly looked far away; after victories at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg, eastern northern cities would have suddenly looked uncomfortably close and vulnerable.
 

wausaubob

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If Meade is defeated, so is Lincoln. Either McClellan resumes command or Congress brings Grant east immediately. Grant most likely comes east conditioned on getting near dictatorial powers over strategy and logistics.
The Army of the Potomac becomes the protector of Washington, DC. Grant's army becomes the army of invasion in North Carolina. As Lee has to counter the No. Carolina enclave, he cannot detach Longstreet, and the Army of the Potomac begins a war of posts under Hancock to move closer and closer to Richmond.
 

wausaubob

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The problem is that none of the land battles were very decisive. Railroad logistics made it much easier for Civil War armies to retreat and recover.
If the Confederates defeat the US at Gettysburg, there are still two US armies intact. Moreover the US navy still has command of the Atlantic coast and the Mississippi River.
So that Pennsylvania victory, though dramatic to journalists, shifts the balance of power westward, as much as southward.
 
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A victory on day one just result in Meade falling back with most of his army intact and ready to fight.

But if we imagine that Longstreet attack on the 2nd and route the union army, and it Flee towards Baltimore. (and not Washington)
Lee capture large quantities of food and more importantly the artillery train with its ammunition, forges and horses. (so his artillery is in better condition than when the campaign started)

But even then, do Lee have the strength to attack the forts defending Washington that is properly manned? (unlike in 1864 when grant removed the heavy artillery regiments)

I have a hard time seeing the federal army completely destroyed. But lets say it is out of action for 2-3 weeks...

Can Lee force a peace during that time? By besieging Washington? Not sure.

Lincoln would not give in. The question is if some of the states say stop. by refusing to send more men to the army. If some congress members try to pass bills saying Lincoln should end the war or similar.
Or Lee follows the army towards Baltimore in hopes of destroying it and sacking Baltimore. Then turns to take Philadelphia.
 

leftyhunter

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Assume, for the sake of argument, that Lee achieves a victory at Gettysburg compare to Second Manassas. Exactly how is not really important. The Army of the Potomac is driven away from the battlefield in confused, humiliating rout.

Does this lead to Confederate independence?
If Lee wins at Gettysburg but suffers heavy casualties then Lee may not be able to continue to fight on the offensive. If a victory at Gettysburg occurs then Grant could make a completing case not to parole the captured Confederate troops at Gettysburg.
A Confederate victory at Gettysburg does nothing to lessen the devastating effect of the Union Naval Blockade.
Leftyhunter
 

wausaubob

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A victory at Gettysburg would be good for the Confederacy. But if Vicksburg surrenders or is captured the Midwest and far west are in the war to stay. Power shifts towards Grant. McClellan could easily come back to defend Washington, D.C.
The war could pause until after the 1864 election. But Grant almost certainly runs for President and wins in 1864.
 


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