Why was the Battle of Gettysburg such a defeat for the South?

JohnJW

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I think that by 1863 the South understood that only foreign intervention by England and/or France would save them. The failure of the invasion into Pennsylvania and the surrender at Vicksburg kept the Europeans out.
 

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Many things in my opinion factored in to Lee's defeat at Gettysburg. The lack of Calvary hurt big time notice I said lack of. Lee had Calvary with him at Gettysburg but didn't trust the commanders so he didn't use them. So is that Lee's fault? Well maybe but why would Stuart leave two capable Calvary commanders in the Valley? He hated them that's why so personal feelings is a factor. Ewell failing to understand the importance of Cemetery Hill on the first day, and Lee's failure to give him clearer orders to take it. A tactical difference with his most trusted Corp Commander hindered the July 2nd attack, not to mention the recon done prior to the July 2nd attack was done early in the morning and wasn't very accurate and was made prior to Sickles moving his Corp into the Peach Orchard and Wheatfield slowing down Longstreets attack. Let's not forget the importance of Oliver Howard and Winfield Hancock's defensive line and how Meade was able to move reforcements quickly over 2.5 miles where Lee had to move over 6 miles. So in the end many things factor into Lee's defeat but in my opinion Lee needs to shoulder all the blame. He at times didn't give clear orders, he refused to use the Calvary he had on hand, he should have told Longstreet to get over it and carry out his orders and he felt his Army was invinceable. He also finally found a formidable opponent in Meade. Lee gambled and it cost him big!
 
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The results of the Battle, convinced Lincoln the AoP could not win the war in the East with the generals it had. If not for Chickamauga, Grant would have been called East sooner than he was.(Meade was the caretaker of the AoP, keeping the army out of trouble and marking time until Grant could arrive)


P.S. In point of fact, though. For a negotiated settlement to occur, either Lincoln or Davis had to go. Between their goals and policies there was no room for compromise(the first prerequisite for negotiation) To paraphrase, if Davis was as concrete on passing on an independent CSA that the people of the confederacy had entrusted him, intact, Lincoln was as Steel itself in the exact same position concerning the Union.
Lincoln didn't want Meade or Grant he chose John F. Reynolds who turned it down. So he defaulted to Meade who did his job. Grant even thought so that's why he never relieved Meade as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Grant was reckless at time, he got victories but a great cost in human life.
 

gary

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Consider the alternative.

Originally Davis asked Lee to detach a corps to Joe Johnston would could march to the relief of Pemberton who was besieged in Vicksburg. Lee demurred, arguing that by threatening Washington or Baltimore, Grant would have to break off and send men east to assist the AoP. It was a gamble that lost. Grant never sent troops.

Second, had a corps been dispatched to Johnston and Johnston then relieved Pemberton, Grant would have suffered his fifth failure at taking Vicksburg. Grant could have been sacked as another failure like Hooker, Burnside, McDowell, Pope, McClellan, etc.

Had Grant been sacked, he may not have been the general responsible for relieving the trapped Union army at Chattanooga. Who would be fighting Lee in 1864? Meade would not have had the grit like Grant did.
 

GwilymT

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Consider the alternative.

Originally Davis asked Lee to detach a corps to Joe Johnston would could march to the relief of Pemberton who was besieged in Vicksburg. Lee demurred, arguing that by threatening Washington or Baltimore, Grant would have to break off and send men east to assist the AoP. It was a gamble that lost. Grant never sent troops.

Second, had a corps been dispatched to Johnston and Johnston then relieved Pemberton, Grant would have suffered his fifth failure at taking Vicksburg. Grant could have been sacked as another failure like Hooker, Burnside, McDowell, Pope, McClellan, etc.

Had Grant been sacked, he may not have been the general responsible for relieving the trapped Union army at Chattanooga. Who would be fighting Lee in 1864? Meade would not have had the grit like Grant did.
No you are scratching at the surface of Marse Robert’s greatest detrimental traits.
 

BillO

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Would you think me daft if I said that all in all it really wasn't SUCH a defeat. Lee lost the battle as he was not able to do what he had wanted and he had to pull away and retreat from the battlefield. It was actually a close run thing the first two days and the Federal army was in just about as bad a shape as the ANV actually losing more men.
Vicksburg on the other hand was a disaster for the Confederacy.
 

wbull1

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I do not believe a loss would have convinced Lincoln to go to the bargaining table. I'm also not convinced that McClellan would have accepted any loss of Union territory. His acceptance speech of the nomination was pretty definite about that. I don't believe the party wanting peace truly wanted Mac as their candidate. He was the most likely to beat Lincoln, but he had commanded the Union army and he was not about to throw in the towel and allow any state to leave the Union. In my opinion, of course.
 

Carronade

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Would you think me daft if I said that all in all it really wasn't SUCH a defeat. Lee lost the battle as he was not able to do what he had wanted and he had to pull away and retreat from the battlefield. It was actually a close run thing the first two days and the Federal army was in just about as bad a shape as the ANV actually losing more men.
Vicksburg on the other hand was a disaster for the Confederacy.
I don't think you're daft :wink: It was no more decisive than Fredericksburg or Chancellorsville. Once again, the armies ended up back about where they had started. The stalemate in the east went on for another year (indeed one could argue that it went on until April 1865).

Of course while the stalemate continued, the Confederacy was steadily losing the war in the west. The overall situation did not change, and that is the true significance of Gettysburg. The South needed a change, and didn't get it.
 

OpnCoronet

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Lincoln didn't want Meade or Grant he chose John F. Reynolds who turned it down. So he defaulted to Meade who did his job. Grant even thought so that's why he never relieved Meade as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Grant was reckless at time, he got victories but a great cost in human life.


Good speculations but do not fit the facts. At the time of Hooker's replacement as AoP Commander, Grant was heavily involvedin the siege of vicksburg.

When Grant moved East, he was Lt. General ofthe Armmies and was the equivalent of a modern Army Goup Commander, with several armiesunder his direct command. Even Grant would have been hard pressed to try to coordinate All his commands AND direct the day to day routinesof commanding the AoP. Asnoted before, Meade was competent, enough, juust not confident enough to face Lee by himself. Besides, it was probably deemed not wise to replace Meade with a general not from the AoP itself,
 
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Didn't Grant replace Halleck? Is there any where in writing that shows who Lincoln was considering when he decided to move on from Hooker?
 
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Would you think me daft if I said that all in all it really wasn't SUCH a defeat. Lee lost the battle as he was not able to do what he had wanted and he had to pull away and retreat from the battlefield. It was actually a close run thing the first two days and the Federal army was in just about as bad a shape as the ANV actually losing more men.
Vicksburg on the other hand was a disaster for the Confederacy.
The biggest loss for Lee at Gettysburg in my opinion was the loss of life. Where the North could refill ranks Lee couldn't.
 

GwilymT

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Didn't Grant replace Halleck? Is there any where in writing that shows who Lincoln was considering when he decided to move on from Hooker?
As far as I know, there isn’t anything primary in writing (from Lincoln) discussing who would be a replacement. Reynolds did travel to Washington and meet within Lincoln at the time and it is widely believed that Lincoln offered Reynolds the command. However, any evidence of this comes from second or third hand sources. It was also rumored that Reynolds suggested Meade to the President at this meeting.
 

Patrick H

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Pickett may have been the wrong man to lead the men in the charge. He finished dead last in his class at West Point. Perhaps his ability to lead the men in the charge was simply not good enough. He may have been over confident in his abilities.
Well, as understand it, Pickett didn't lead the charge. Three other generals led it for him. Of those three, General Armisted was the one who got closest to breaching the Union line.
 

BillO

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The biggest loss for Lee at Gettysburg in my opinion was the loss of life. Where the North could refill ranks Lee couldn't.
I'm sure that hurt but I suspect the biggest blow to Lee was the dawning realization that his cherished command structure was in a complete shambles.
Pendleton just wouldn't do, AP Hill just couldn't do, Ewell was just done and Longstreet simply wouldn't be able to fill Jackson's role.
Also they had been careless with their officer corp and were running out of good replacements.
 

Irishtom29

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Second, had a corps been dispatched to Johnston and Johnston then relieved Pemberton, Grant would have suffered his fifth failure at taking Vicksburg. Grant could have been sacked as another failure like Hooker, Burnside, McDowell, Pope, McClellan, etc.
That's assuming Grant wouldn't whip Johnston and this extra corps, a very big assumption.
 

Carronade

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Didn't Grant replace Halleck? Is there any where in writing that shows who Lincoln was considering when he decided to move on from Hooker?
Grant replaced Halleck in March 1864. At the time Lincoln was seeking a replacement for Hooker, Grant was a thousand miles away conducting the siege of Vicksburg, and he was an army commander on a par with Rosecrans or Hooker. It was only after the surrender of Vicksburg and his retrieval of Union fortunes at Chattanooga that Grant emerged as the Union's preeminent general.

Also, there was an urgent need to get Hooker's replacement in place; the Army of the Potomac was on the march and likely to engage in a critically important battle within the next few days. It was preferable to select the new commander from the AofP leadership rather than bring in a stranger.
 


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