What If Lee Won At Gettysburg?

GwilymT

First Sergeant
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Aug 20, 2018
Location
Pittsburgh
Let's say the ANV performs perfectly late on July 1 and either captures or finishes off the I and II Corps. Hancock is captured after hiding behind a gravestone. Then the next morning the ANV promptly moves south/southeast, gobbling up the other Union corps like a Pac Man on steroids. Meade falls off his horse and, stunned like the turtle he was likened to, withdraws into a shell and loses command and control. On July 3, Pickett charges the heights at Pipe Creek and scatters the remaining Union forces, achieving the positive immortality he so richly deserved.

So, yea, in that scenario, South wins the war.
In that scenario, perhaps. You left out Early capturing Philadelphia then marching to Baltimore and Lee accepting Lincoln’s surrender at the White House after he took DC.
 

Dead Parrott

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 30, 2019
While I mostly agree with the answers so far, let me offer a different tack:

Lee wins at Gettysburg. The AOP, in disarray and with significant losses, retreats to defend (pick your city). Lee rumbles around, causing consternation and panicky newspaper uproar, and then eventually falls back to Virginia (as he must).

What would the psychological effect of that victory be? No, we're not going to see Europe rush to the CSA's aid. But what about the effect on the morale of the Confederacy? What about the morale effect on the AOP? The Northern press? McClellan's presidential run?What is the residual morale effect on the upcoming election?

It's not so much a shift in military realities as it might be in psychological impact.

Just food for contemplation...
 

thebattle29

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Dec 22, 2020
Location
Washington's battery, New York City
Hello everyone, I was wondering how would the tide of war changed if lee won at Gettysburg? I believe the war would have ended with a southern victory. What are your thoughts?
I believe that...
A: Lee would have to retreat eventually as his supply lines would become too thin.
B: The AoP would just raise another few divisions and call up Northern militia guards and beat back Lee.
 

Irishtom29

Sergeant Major
Joined
Jul 21, 2008
Location
Kent, Washington
Rosecrans and his army might be in low spirits after a major CSA victory on Union soil.

I kind'a doubt it unless that major rebel victory was in Ohio or Illinois. I think the western Yankees expected the easterners to get whipped.

Anyway, the Army of the Cumberland had it's wedge in pretty deep at the time and had the rebels on the run. Well, moving back anyway.
 
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Generic Username

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May 12, 2019
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Yes
No. At this point the Emancipation Proclamation was in affect and it could be rightfully said that it was a war about slavery. The British would never align themselves with a breakaway government who openly stated that their cause was rooted in a desire to defend slavery.

Any hopes of British intervention went away in the fall of 1862 when Lee retreated from Maryland and the Emancipation Proclamation was issued.
See Blue and Gray Diplomacy: A History of Union and Confederate Foreign Relations by Howard Jones, Chapter Requiem for Napoleon—and Intervention -

Yet Kenner’s secret mission was anything but secret. Reports about it appeared in the Richmond Enquirer and Sentinel in late December 1864. Seward notified the Union embassy in London of the mission on January 10, and the news appeared in the Paris press on March 2. Kenner had left Richmond in disguise on January 18, 1865, lamenting that he would have had a better chance in early 1863, when both England and France were well aware of the Confederacy’s diminishing resources and the battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg had not yet occurred. “I would have succeeded” in securing a £15 million loan when “slavery was the bone of contention.”​
Now, neither Napoleon nor Palmerston showed interest in the proposal. To Kenner and Mason, the emperor explained that he refused to move without England and that he “had never taken [slavery] into consideration” regarding recognition. On March 14, 1865, Mason met with Palmerston for more than an hour at Cambridge House, where the prime minister also rejected the plan, insisting that slavery was not the obstacle to intervention; the Confederacy had not proven its independence on the battlefield. The Richmond Dispatch glumly noted, “No one would receive us as a gift." The responses should not have surprised the Confederacy. Napoleon’s reply contained nothing different from his initial determination to follow the British lead. Palmerston’s argument against recognition correlated with his long conversation with De Leon in the summer of 1862. On neither side of the English Channel did slavery emerge as the critical consideration.
 

Generic Username

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Yes
Of course we'll never know, since it didn't happen, but I think any victory in the north stirs up the anti-war faction in the north to become a serious threat to carrying the war on. Though there's no election in 1863, you can use 1864 as an example. Until Atlanta was taken, Lincoln was convinced he was going to lose and that the new administration would broker a peace. That was after Gettysburg had been won, Vicksburg had been taken, and Grant was maneuvering Lee onto the ropes: the point being that things seemed to be going much better in 1864 for the northern war effort and he was still convinced he was going to be defeated because people were tired of the war. In 1863, things were not going well in the east (which Washington, DC was most concerned with, being right in the middle of it). A Confederate victory on northern soil - even if it weren't a catastrophic defeat for the AOP - may have had major (and possibly war-ending, for all intents and purposes) effects.

I think it's worth noting that one of Lee's intentions (not the only one) was to roam around PA enough to stir that anti-war faction up to the south's benefit.
See the Battle of Fort Fizzle in Ohio in 1863, the Detroit Race Riots of 1863, the Charleston Riot in March of 1864 in Illinois, the Fishing Creek Confederacy in Pennsylvania from July to November of 1864, and the occupation of New York City by the Federal Army in the Fall of 1864. You can also view the newspaper reporting in the Summer of 1864 in general, as the Northern public was shocked by the immense casualties taken by Grant and inflation in July of 1864 reached its war-time height. This all had a tangible effect on the war effort: Between July 1863 and December 1864, 161,224 men failed to report to service under the draft.

There was also elections in 1863, for the Governor's office in both Ohio and Pennsylvania. Given something like 90 regiments in the AotP were raised from the latter, a Copperhead Democrat in office could seriously impact the Union's ability to recover from such a defeat.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
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Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
the prime minister also rejected the plan, insisting that slavery was not the obstacle to intervention; the Confederacy had not proven its independence on the battlefield. The Richmond Dispatch glumly noted, “No one would receive us as a gift." The responses should not have surprised the Confederacy.
Slavery was 100% the issue the upper classes were completely out of sync with the middle and lower classes.

While Britain was indeed split over loyalty to the Union or Confederacy with nearly all the lower classes supporting the Union and with the Manchester cotton famine causing great hardship it would have been suicide by any government to support the Confederacy.

You forget it was Britain that banned the international slave trade they would look very stupid siding with a country that supported slavery.
 

Generic Username

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Yes
Slavery was 100% the issue the upper classes were completely out of sync with the middle and lower classes.

While Britain was indeed split over loyalty to the Union or Confederacy with nearly all the lower classes supporting the Union and with the Manchester cotton famine causing great hardship it would have been suicide by any government to support the Confederacy.

You forget it was Britain that banned the international slave trade they would look very stupid siding with a country that supported slavery.
Britain was also the nation that continued to be the biggest buyer of American cotton as well as continued to buy goods from Brazil, which retained slavery until the late 1880s. Britain was opposed to the international slave trade, but it didn't impact their foreign policy in the sense you are purposing. As far as the breakdown in British popular opinion, not really; the lower and middle classes were much more divided than you suggest on the topic and the idea of violent rebellion over the issue has no real historical documentation to support it:

During the American Civil War, Great Britain contemplated courses of action they could take to influence the war, whether for economic reasons or diplomatic. British public opinion on what actions to take were divided (Campbell). There were a multitude of pro-Confederate groups due to the similarities the Confederates had with British society. The aristocrats and the working class of British society supported The Confederacy. However, there were also many pro Northern groups. The support for The Union in Great Britain came from the radical lower class, anti-slavery groups, as well as industrial workers. Despite the majority of British citizens taking sides, a minority chose to remain neutral because they distrusted, disliked, or just simply wished for Great Britain to stay out of other country’s domestic affairs.​

Also, the idea the Emancipation Proclamation had a positive effect on British public opinion just isn't supported either. To quote Jones again:

News of the Emancipation Proclamation infuriated the British and the French. From Washington, Stuart indignantly informed Russell that Lincoln had enacted an antislavery decree in areas where the Union had no “de facto jurisdiction.” The purpose of the measure was to “render intervention impossible.” It bore no “pretext of humanity” and was “cold, vindictive, and entirely political.” The president sought only to offer “direct encouragement to servile Insurrections.” His action had angered Confederate lawmakers who mouthed “threats of raising the Black Flag and other measures of retaliation.” Bring in the French guillotine, declared a northern governor. If Lincoln and his Republican Party remained in control, Stuart warned, “we may see reenacted some of the worst excesses of the French Revolution.” Hammond joined Cobden in fearing the worst. To block the Confederacy’s quest for nationhood, Cobden moaned, the Union would “half ruin itself in the process of wholly ruining the South.” The use of blacks in the war effort would cause “one of the most bloody and horrible episodes in history.” The French concurred, complaining to London that the danger of a slave rebellion provided another reason for a joint intervention to end the war. A few days later, Stuart wrote Russell with no hint of dissatisfaction that Lincoln’s Proclamation seemed to be causing many in the Union armies and the Border States to desert to the Confederacy.​
The British press launched a blistering attack on the decree. The Times bitterly ridiculed Lincoln for considering himself “a sort of moral American Pope.” Taking advantage of the war, he sought to stir up a slave uprising during which the blacks would “murder the families of their masters” while they were away at war. “Where he has no power Mr. Lincoln will set the negroes free; where he retains power he will consider them as slaves.” His seemingly moral pronouncement was “more like a Chinaman beating his two swords together to frighten his enemy than like an earnest man pressing on his cause.” Though it supported the Union, the Spectator of London found the Proclamation exasperating. “The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States.” London’s Bee-Hive, sympathetic to the Confederacy until the paper changed editors in January 1863, accused Lincoln of refusing to take action against slavery in the Border States in which he had authority and attempting to end the institution in the Confederacy where he did not. The Times bitterly asked whether “the reign of the last president [was] to go out amid horrible massacres of white women and children, to be followed by the extermination of the black race in the South? Is Lincoln yet a name not known to us as it will be known to posterity, and is it ultimately to be classed among that catalogue of monsters, the wholesale assassins and butchers of their kind?” Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine renounced the Proclamation as “monstrous, reckless, devilish.” To defeat the Confederacy, the Union “would league itself with Beelzebub, and seek to make a hell of half a continent.”​
Finally:
Within a couple of weeks, the news of Antietam reached England, where the ministry initially believed the premature accounts of Confederate victory and resumed its interest in a mediation to stop the blood fest. The Earl of Shaftesbury, Lady Palmerston’s son-in-law and of considerable influence in ministerial circles, had visited Paris a few days before the battlefield news had reached the Continent and, according to Slidell, assured French officials of imminent British intervention. From the outbreak of the war, Shaftesbury told Slidell, he had supported the South’s struggle for independence against the Union’s quest for empire. He had been nearly alone in that stand, for his associates had defined the issue as slavery versus freedom. But British public opinion had undergone a revolution in feeling. Lincoln’s recent speech to the black delegation from New York and his published letter on slavery to Horace Greeley had alienated those English people calling for abolition. They now believed it more beneficial to black liberation if the Confederacy became independent.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
I think it's conceivable that Lee had these goals:

1) Sustain his army off Northern resources rather than Southern for a significant period of time.
This is basically his minimum goal, but it's worthwhile.
2) Prevent the next Union offensive by focusing Union attention north.
Sooner or later the Union is going to make another offensive, and while so far Lee has thrown back three of them it's not inconceivable that the Union will realize it was a lot harder for him to do so when the Union came by sea. Even without that however there's also the case that if the Union keeps trying they will eventually "roll a six".
3) Cause damage and disruption to the North.
This is the idea of trying to reduce the popularity of the War party. As of 1862-3 the Democrats have 72 House seats out of 180-184, and the Republicans have 84-85 - the balance is Unionists (i.e. "War Democrats" basically who are caucusing with the Republicans) and this hardly indicates monolithic popularity for the Republicans. An electoral defeat for the Republicans is not out of the realm of possibility, and they wouldn't have to lose many seats to end up in the minority.
If the framing is "continue the war" versus "let the South go" and the "continue the war" promises more loss and bloodshed then that can have some influence; it's not guaranteed but is definitely worth trying!
4) Inflict heavy damage on the Army of the Potomac.
As of mid-1863 the Army of the Potomac has suffered two heavy defeats, and has also lost a lot of men from discharge. Any invasion of the South is going to be carried chiefly by that Army, and the more rebuilding it needs then the greater the safety of the South - and the more resources it will cost the Union, in men and manpower.
5) Try and kill the Army of the Potomac.
It's no coincidence that both times Lee invaded the North the Army of the Potomac had suffered very badly in the recent past and was in a vulnerable state, and the same pattern is sort of visible with Early's invasion as well. The Army of the Potomac is not healthy in June-July 1863, and if Lee can apply his skill in manoeuvre to get his high-morale and well-trained troops to fight the Army of the Potomac at advantage (especially if he catches them strung out on the roads and not mutually supporting) then he can deliver it a third defeat in a row and cause something of a spiral of negative morale (and high casualties).

It's certainly the case that destroying an army in the field is rare in the Civil War and arguably never actually happens, but that doesn't mean it's empirically impossible - just empirically hard. And if you have, say, 1/2 to 2/3 of the Confederate army managing to hit two isolated Union corps from two sides and largely destroy them as fighting units, then you have a situation where Lee has an advantage...
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
While Britain was indeed split over loyalty to the Union or Confederacy with nearly all the lower classes supporting the Union and with the Manchester cotton famine causing great hardship it would have been suicide by any government to support the Confederacy.
This is not really a correct description of the reaction to the cotton famine. There was significant pro-Confederate support in the cotton areas, it's just that the political classes tried (and successfully managed) to ignore it.
 

Scott1967

Sergeant
Joined
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Location
England
This is not really a correct description of the reaction to the cotton famine. There was significant pro-Confederate support in the cotton areas, it's just that the political classes tried (and successfully managed) to ignore it.
We have been here before it most certainly is correct the lower paid overworked lower classes overwhelmingly supported the North especially in the North West of England , Lancashire , Cheshire , Yorkshire.

The merchants or mill owners of course sided with the South.

Grants speech on his world tour in Manchester lasted for nearly 2 hrs but he had no time for Liverpool or Birmingham as both these towns had been providing ships and the Enfield to the South and at some point flown the confederate flag.

Quote:

On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery. An extract from the letter they wrote in the name of the Working People of Manchester to His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America says:

... the vast progress which you have made in the short space of twenty months fills us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot on civilisation and Christianity – chattel slavery – during your presidency, will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honoured and revered by posterity. We are certain that such a glorious consummation will cement Great Britain and the United States in close and enduring regards.
— Public Meeting, Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 31 December 1862.​

Quote:

At the Town Hall reception in May 1877 Grant said: "I was very well aware during the war...of the sentiments of the great mass of the people of Manchester towards the country to which I have the honour to belong, and of your sentiments with regard to the struggle in which it fell to my lot to take a humble part. For that, and for further expressions of the kind which took place during our great trial, there has been on the part of my countrymen a feeling of friendship towards the people of Manchester, distinct and separate from that which they feel for all the rest of England."

End Quote:

My father was from Scotland my mother was born and bred Manchester my Grandmother worked in Broadstone Mill and her mother worked in Goyt Mill my Great Grandmother was born in 1840 and died in 1935 but the stories she told would 100% convince you that the workers of the mills 100% had empathy with the slaves in the South and they fully believed it was a Christian duty to support Lincoln and the North in his fight to free the slaves regardless of its ramifications to the cotton workers.
 

Saphroneth

Major
Joined
Feb 18, 2017
On 31 December 1862, a meeting of cotton workers at the Free Trade Hall in Manchester, despite their increasing hardship, resolved to support the Union in its fight against slavery. An extract from the letter they wrote in the name of the Working People of Manchester to His Excellency Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America says:
You realize that that was astroturfing, right?

Mary Ellison showed back in 1972 that that meeting was a sham. It was supposedly set up by two working-men, but the mayor of Manchester was there in his full regalia along with such middle-class dignitaries as John Watts, Samuel Pope, W.A Jackson and Thomas Bayley Potter. The Manchester Courier called it "a very artfully contrived enterprise on the part of the friends of Messrs. Cobden and Bright and the peace-at-any-price party", and other editors did the same. It's hard to see whether you can place any reliance on the meetings held at this time given Freeman H Morse's own admission that "It has cost much labor [sic] and some money to get it [mass meetings] well started but I think both have been well spent and are producing results far better than had any reason to hope" (Morse to Seward, Jan 17th 1863).

Freeman Morse was the US consul in London. These meetings were set up with great effort and paid for by US diplomats; they cannot be seen as spontaneous. Meanwhile the mass demonstrations and petitions in the Manchester and Lancaster area of a much less pro-Union slant largely were spontaneous.



Mary Ellison showed almost half a century ago that there was real significant support for the Confederacy, or at any rate for the end of the war on terms other than a final Union victory, among the mill workers. This is why there was a petition taken to New York in favour of a negotiated Southern independence in 1864, signed by 350,000 people from the Manchester area (Seward refused to recieve it) which must surely by itself be a strong indicator of what the actual preferences of Mancunians was - it's about 25% of the entire population of the Greater Manchester area.
 

Scott1967

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Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Location
England
Within a couple of weeks, the news of Antietam reached England, where the ministry initially believed the premature accounts of Confederate victory and resumed its interest in a mediation to stop the blood fest. The Earl of Shaftesbury, Lady Palmerston’s son-in-law and of considerable influence in ministerial circles, had visited Paris a few days before the battlefield news had reached the Continent and, according to Slidell, assured French officials of imminent British intervention. From the outbreak of the war, Shaftesbury told Slidell, he had supported the South’s struggle for independence against the Union’s quest for empire. He had been nearly alone in that stand, for his associates had defined the issue as slavery versus freedom. But British public opinion had undergone a revolution in feeling. Lincoln’s recent speech to the black delegation from New York and his published letter on slavery to Horace Greeley had alienated those English people calling for abolition. They now believed it more beneficial to black liberation if the Confederacy became independent.
It was no great secret the upper classes supported the confederacy they also controlled the newspapers.

But what they really feared was an lower class uprising like what happened in France I would suggest you look up the Peterloo Massacre.

Manchester has always been a very radical city out of interest their are some who think the North should be a separate nation to the rest of the UK.
 
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