What do you think would have been the most likely outcome if the Confederacy won at Gettysburg?

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What do you think would be the most likely outcome if the Confederacy won at Gettysburg?


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    24

privateflemming

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What do you think would have been the most likely hypothetical outcome if the Confederacy had decisively won at Gettysburg? For example, let's say the Confederates had occupied Cemetery Ridge on the first day and then the Union had launched repeated attacks culminating in something like a reverse of Pickett's Charge, with the Union losing ~30,000 casualties overall and the Confederates only ~10,000.

Feel free to elaborate more in the comments but I've just provided a few basic options as a poll.
 

privateflemming

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Why do people think the ANV wouldn't have been able to sustain itself in the North over the summer?

Lee thought they could and I don't really see why they couldn't plunder the Pennsylvania countryside enough to sustain themselves while trying not to alienate the populace too much. Sherman was able to march all the way across the heart of the South without a stable supply line just by foraging/plundering. Why couldn't the ANV do it for a few months?

Meanwhile I think Northern moral would have been extremely demoralized to have the Confederates win a huge victory north of Washington. New York was literally in the midst of violent draft riots. A Confederate victory in Gettysburg at that time would have been a culmination of all the Union's worst fears. Maybe Meade could have rallied at the Pipe Creek line and goaded Lee into making costly attacks as he was prone to do and could turned the situation around, but either way the Union would have been in a very tight spot.

I don't think the fall of Vicksburg would have seemed very important if Confederate forces were plundering Pennsylvania and besieging Washington and that would have been true in the short term. In reality even with the Union victory at Gettysburg it took the Union almost another two years to defeat the Confederacy.
 
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It depends on how badly the ANV whooped the Army of the Potomac and when it happened.

Let's say for example Picketts Charge succeeded. Lee wins the battle but has an army that went three days of hard fighting and suffered tens of thousands in casualties. The victory would likely have been a Pyrrhic one if Lee didn't succeed in completely knocking out at least two of the Army of the Potomac's corps in the battle and evening the odds a bit.
On the other hand, if say on the 2nd day of the battle Laws Brigade had taken Little Round Top and turned the southern flank, completely routing the Union army, then they would have had more fresh soldiers with Pickett's divisions not yet in the battle and Stuart's cavalry only now returning from the countryside.

I believe that the War would have gone on at least a little while longer, though with Lee in Western PA living off the land, it would have been bad for the Lincoln Administration, and possibly cost them the election of 1864. But then again this also depends on what happens in the west. If Bragg's bungling of the Chattanooga Campaign goes as it did in our history and 1864 saw the Union in northern Georgia and the resulting history remained the same, then its a toss-up. For that matter if the ANV was in Pennsylvania, its unlikely Lee could have rushed Longstreet to Chickamauga in time and that might have changed the outcome of the battle there. Then again Davis might be more inclined to take Lee's advice on command of the Army of Tennessee despite the President's views of General Johnston and that would have been a factor too as Johnston could have fought a better defensive campaign against Grant and Sherman than Hood did.

There are far too many possiblities to be certain.
 

DaveBrt

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There was practically no ammunition to send to Lee in PA. The Government scraped the bottom of the barrel to send what it could, but it did not include ammunition of all types and was not enough to fully resupply the ANV. The strains of covering the loss of the Vicksburg army would have made it even more difficult to find the ammunition necessary to keep Lee supplied some 300 miles from Richmond, most of which distance would be by wagon.
 

Luke Freet

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Thing is, the timing of the Battle in 1863, a year and a half before the critical presidential elections, means that the Lincoln government would still be in place. It is doubtful in my mind Lincoln would allow for peace with the Confederacy, even with the victory in Pennsylvania. It would have been like Hannibal's victory at Cannae, a destructive victory, which could not be properly followed up because the capital was still well protected. Washington could be put under siege, but could not be taken by assault. It would need to be starved out. This would allow reinforcements from, say, Grant, to be transferred to form a new army to oppose Lee.
That is the biggest issue here: Time. There is too much of it left for Lincoln in order to pull out a victory.
 

Polloco

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Why wasn't the plundering of Washington D C a voting option? It was a very likely scenario I would think.There would have been some follow -up.
 
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Carronade

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I think the first two vote alternatives frame the key question - how decisive a victory? Most battles like Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville left the overall situation essentially as it had been before. Even Antietam didn't change the military balance much, although it gave Lincoln political cover to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

The only thing that would change history would be a truly crushing defeat which Lee could follow up with further attacks, something like Napoleon's defeat of Prussia in 1806. In our case, Lee would be pursuing the broken AofP towards Washington - and towards his own sources of supply and reinforcement, rather an unusual situation.

No doubt the Confederates would have caravans of captured supplies heading back to Virginia, but their top priority would be to finish off the Federal field forces, likely followed by investing the capital. Meanwhile the Union would be assembling new armies and probably bringing in their most successful general, Grant.
 

Irishtom29

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The resolution of the American people was not so weak as to collapse with a defeat in Pennsylvania or the fall of Washington to the rebellion. As for a likely Federal response: the 9th and 16th Corps hold the the fort while Grant takes Ord, Sherman, McPherson and the 13th, 15th and 17th Corps east and Lee faces the energetic and fast moving AotT as well as the AotP Then ironically a rebel victory at Gettysburg would lead to an earlier Federal victory in the East, in late 1863 say.

The effect on the middle line in Tennessee and Georgia has been raised by SouthernFried--with Longstreet kept in play in the East it's likely Rosecrans drives deeper into Georgia and who knows what?

Or maybe the Kyrellian Armada hidden in the Rings of Saturn waiting on events unmasks and intervenes on the side of the United States.
 
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Carronade

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Why do people think the ANV wouldn't have been able to sustain itself in the North over the summer?

Lee thought they could and I don't really see why they couldn't plunder the Pennsylvania countryside enough to sustain themselves while trying not to alienate the populace too much. Sherman was able to march all the way across the heart of the South without a stable supply line just by foraging/plundering. Why couldn't the ANV do it for a few months?

Meanwhile I think Northern moral would have been extremely demoralized to have the Confederates win a huge victory north of Washington. New York was literally in the midst of violent draft riots. A Confederate victory in Gettysburg at that time would have been a culmination of all the Union's worst fears. Maybe Meade could have rallied at the Pipe Creek line and goaded Lee into making costly attacks as he was prone to do and could turned the situation around, but either way the Union would have been in a very tight spot.

I don't think the fall of Vicksburg would have seemed very important if Confederate forces were plundering Pennsylvania and besieging Washington and that would have been true in the short term. In reality even with the Union victory at Gettysburg it took the Union almost another two years to defeat the Confederacy.
Sherman could forage his way to the sea because there were no significant Confederate forces to oppose him. Ditto for his Meridian raid or Grant's retirement after the destruction of his supply depot at Holly Springs. In Grant's final campaign against Vicksburg, the Confederates were unable to concentrate sufficient forces to defeat his moving, foraging army.

Lee's forces marching into Pennsylvania were widely dispersed and able to forage, but they had to concentrate when the AofP was found to be approaching, and it would take a crushing defeat of the Union army to let the Confederates settle down for the summer - which I doubt they would do anyway. If they beat the AofP that badly, they would want to follow it up, not just sit and wait for the Union to recover.
 

thomas aagaard

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Why do people think the ANV wouldn't have been able to sustain itself in the North over the summer?
He was out of horseshoes and already loosing artillery horses before the battle.
Much more marching and he would start to loose guns to this issue. by simply not having any horses to pull them.

He only had artillery ammo for one big battle.

With a hostile army close by, foraging for food was not possible.

The only way he could have stayed was a complete rout of the AoP, where everyone simply run for their lives and where the artillery train is left behind, and a lot of guns, limbers (with ammo) wagons with ammo, mobile forges and horses is captured.
 

Drew

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There was practically no ammunition to send to Lee in PA. The Government scraped the bottom of the barrel to send what it could, but it did not include ammunition of all types and was not enough to fully resupply the ANV. The strains of covering the loss of the Vicksburg army would have made it even more difficult to find the ammunition necessary to keep Lee supplied some 300 miles from Richmond, most of which distance would be by wagon.
Not true at all. Ammunition was run across the Potomac to Lee during the retreat through Maryland. That is fact and not "hypothetical." Anyone whose ever studied his defensive position against the river will tell you Meade would have been crushed trying to attack it.

So, here's a new hypothetical - what would have happened to the Army of the Potomac if Meade had effectively pursued Lee into Maryland?
 
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