- Feb 2, 2020
If the south won, would they have been able to win the war?
My understanding is that if Lee won at Gettysburg and the AoP more or less disolved then Lee could at a minimum temporarily occupy Baltimore or Philadelphia burn it to the ground and a demoralized Union public would force the politicians to sue for peace.The simple answer is no. In 1863 Gettysburg was rightly considered a humiliating disaster. It wasn't until the 1870's that Gettysburg was declared the "high water mark of the Confederacy" by Jubal Early & the Southern Historical Society after the war. It was a facet of the creation of the the Lost Cause & deification of Lee, Jackson & Joe Johnston. Everything that occurred in Virginia was elevated to a level of biblical importance that it certainly did not deserve. Gettysburg lives in a warm glow of fools gold, not the real thing.
Stripped of its Lost Cause halo, the Gettysburg Campaign is a case study in how not to operate in enemy territory. Lee only penetrated 40 miles into Pennsylvania. In the tradition of a Napoleonic advance, Lee had no logistical support. The Army of Northern Virginia was sent north in complete ignorance of the position of the Army of the Potomac. Because of that intelligence failure, Lee's army blundered into a completely unplanned meeting engagement. As a result, Lee made a series of assaults at significant tactical disadvantage. As a result, Lee destroyed about half his army & was only saved from destruction by the AoP's habitual case of the slows & torrential rain.
How would a Confederate victory at Gettysburg be defined? No matter what, Lee was going to be out of ammunition at the end of the day. Every single wagon he could lay his hands on was filled with his wounded, he was incapable of resupplying his army. So, this putative victory would have occurred in the middle of nowhere with a major river iyn front & behind his army. Win or loose at Gettysburg, Lee was going to retreat back into Virginia. No professional military analysis projects any chance that Lee could have lived off the land in Pennsylvania. It was July, the crops were green, there was nothing to live off of even if Lee could have somehow made the time to forage.
So, apart from fantasies that ignore basic military realities, no professional military scenario projects anything that a rational person could call a Confederate victory at Gettysburg anything but a side show.
I will argue that Lee had no choice but to invade Pennsylvania and go for the Hail Mary Pass.@Rhea Cole is spot on. Lee was probably actually going for Harrisburg but even if he'd somehow captured it he couldn't hold on to it. His only hope was that somehow that would be so disheartening to the Union that they'd decide it was no longer worth the fight and call some sort of truce. I think the likelihood that the Union would have done that even if Lee had taken Harrisburg is darn close to zero. Sure, it would have been an embarrassing black eye but it most likely would have just resulted in a focused determination to grind Lee into dust (and the Union had the resources to do that). Harrisburg wasn't Washington, D.C.
I personally think a second invasion was Lee's biggest (but not only) mistake. He'd have had a better chance of draining the Union's will if he'd taken a more defensive stance and made them come to him on his ground (resulting in high casualty rates). I also don't really think Lee thought a victory would have caused an European country to somehow come to the rescue of the confederacy. Even if he did he was making too big a bet on too poor a hand. And as a p.s., after day two he should have realized he was whipped and folded that pair of fives.
OK, that's opinion #57. Stay tuned for opinions with even larger numerical values.
Would you agree that it could've ment a longer War?Less than 3 months later the Confederacy achieved a brilliant tactical victory at Chickamauga. But that did not force Burnside out of Knoxville, and Thomas held on for about a month at Chattanooga, in Tennessee, until Hooker was able act in coordination with Thomas.
The total affect of the great victory lasted almost exactly three months.
Easy; by inflicting yet another humiliating defeat on the AOP, this time, on their home soil after supplying his army off the fat of the enemy's land for a change, and strengthening the peace party in the North as well as influencing the 1864 elections. Lee most likely knew better than anyone that he wasn't going to stay north of the Potomac indefinitely. As E. P. Alexander stated in his memoirs, and he would know; they had enough ammunition and supply for one big battle and a victory would have given them enough for another.How would a Confederate victory at Gettysburg be defined?
If and was a long shot at best Lee at a minimum routs the AoP perhaps that will demoralize the Union public to sue for peace. Realistically Lee has to burn down at least one major US city which might demoralize the Union public or it just might incense them.As long as General Lee and his army were in Pennsylvania, and the Confederacy was not shuttling troops to Jackson, MS, the US was willing to be defeated in Pennsylvania, as long it wasn't too bad. Since the US had rail connections to Gettysburg, the US army was going to recover much faster than Lee's army could, no matter what disaster occurred.
The United States was sending infantry and artillery reinforcements to Grant and Sherman, in June 1863, as fast as they could. All other objectives were on hold while Porter's gunboats patrolled above and below Vicksburg, and raided the Yazoo river. Farragut stayed on Mississippi and blockaded the confluence of the Red and the Mississippi. The press thought Gettysburg was important, but the US government was committed to capturing Vicksburg.
Not even close to being a similar situation. Look up the battle of Yorktown for starters.You all forget that the revolutionary War was fought against the strongest Nation on Earth with a massive amount of resources. But yet the Patriots won. The situation was similar with the civil War, only the outcome was different.
Lee wasn't going to be burning down any enemy cities, reference his gen orders #72.If and was a long shot at best Lee at a minimum routs the AoP perhaps that will demoralize the Union public to sue for peace. Realistically Lee has to burn down at least one major US city which might demoralize the Union public or it just might incense them.
Of course to be fair we have something no historical figures of the ACW has and that's 150 plus years of 20/20 hindsight.
Do far no one has really come up with a viable alternative for Lee's invasion of Pennsylvania.
If Lee can't burn down a city then winning a war becomes difficult. Lee would have to totally destroy the AoP and hope that is enough to throughly demoralize Union public opinion.Lee wasn't going to be burning down any enemy cities, reference his gen orders #72.