Victory at Gettysburg

Confederate Legion Alphabetical Menu Confederate National Flag Must Read Stories Confederate History Menu Dreams and Visions Feature Articles Humor Central Inspirational Stories Short Story Time The Chaplain's Corps Window in Time Angel in Gray Alein Ghost Soldiers Bibles and Guns Confederate Holidays Marriage and Divorce Modern Warefare My Boyhood Church Pride in my Flag Pilgrimage to Masada Proclamation of Independence Take Me Home The Confederate Cause The Ten Commandments Winds of Atlanta Women in Men's Apparel Contact Us

                                             Victory At Gettysburg

                                               Union Armies Surrender - Yankee Capital In Turmoil
                                                                               
4 July 1863


How would history have been altered if General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson had not died on 10 May 1863 and lived to lead his army at the Battle of Gettysburg on 1, 2 and 3 July that same year?  He was known to be a tactical genius, General Robert E. Lee's right hand man and among the few who might have persuaded Lee to use a different tactic.   Would a victory at Gettysburg have allowed more men and resources to be sent south in order to defeat General William T. Sherman?

.
The north was already weary of the war; Would a Confederate Victory have meant a widening anti-war movement and pressured Abraham Lincoln into attempting a negotiated peace?  Could the Battle of Gettysburg have turned out the way it is portrayed in this story?   Well, you decide!  But as for myself, I do believe that had General Thomas J. 'Stonewall' Jackson lived and rode at t he head of his army into Gettysburg, there is no doubt in my mind, the Confederates would have won.  So the outcome of the battle was not a forgone conclusion!

.

Battle of Taneytown
1 July 1863

The First of the three days battle of Gettysburg began with General A.P. Hill's corps moving up the Taneytown Road at daybreak about four miles southwest of Gettysburg, when they collided with Union Forces under John Buford's Federal Cavalry.  Around 8:00 A.M. the fighting began as the Confederates took up positions between the Taneytown Road and Cemetery Hill not far from the Federal position.  The Federals were unaware of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson's approach up the Emmetsburg Road and across an open field some miles away and southwest of town.  Nor were they aware that Jackson would soon arrive upon the scene of battle causing him to collide some distance away with Federal Commander John F. Reynolds’ Corps.  Thereby the reinforcements which might have came to Buford's aid was eliminated by the mighty Stonewall, where otherwise Union Commander Reynolds would have arrived in sufficient time to stand with Buford against General A.P. Hill, during the fighting then going on in the vicinity of Taneytown Road and Cemetery Hill.

.

General Jubal Early's Confederates were moving down from the north of Gettysburg as the Federals marched through town from the southeast when they came upon Jubal Early's Confederate Army, were repelled and retreated back through town toward Cemetery Hill.  While still another Federal corps west of town on Oak Ridge and McPherson's Ridge also pulled back toward the vicinity of Cemetery Hill, thereby the several Federal Corps were rapidly converging on the high ground in the that same area.  Major General Reynolds having been killed in battle earlier that same day, his corps was now under the command of Abner Doubleday.  Thereby what remained of the Federals in and around Gettysburg had been fragmented in the several skirmishes at Oak Ridge, McPherson's Ridge and Cemetery Hill, now found themselves surrounded on Cemetery Hill by the superior Confederate numbers and fire power of Generals Jubal Early, A.P. Hill and the mighty Stonewall Jackson.  This would proved to be a stand off which could only end in disaster for the Federals.  Upon the scene arrives General Robert E. Lee who had marched his army into Gettysburg unopposed.


After being assessed of the situation Lee directed that the Federals, which were now surrounded, by Generals Early, Hill and Jackson should be immediately attacked.  The Confederates already being in position by the time Lee's orders arrived began to opened fire on the beleaguered Federals.  More Federal troops began to arrive that same evening, among them was General George G. Meade coming from the direction of Taneytown around midnight only to discover he had ridden into a disaster.  The two Federal Armies, which had since joined forces and withdrew to Cemetery Hill had been either annihilated or forced to surrender as a result of superior numbers and firepower on the part of the Confederates.  The balance had by this time shifted in favor of the Confederates as a result of the arrival of General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, who had been thought dead of his wounds at the Battle of Chancellorsville.  General George G. Meade decided to hold a council of war that very evening, hoping to snatch victory out of what had become a certain defeat of the Union Armies in the Gettysburg region.

.

.

The Battle of Cemetery Hill

2 July 1863

.
During the previous night the Confederates had moved their forces to occupy the high ground from Cemetery Hill along the length of Cemetery Ridge down to the Big Round Top in the South.  General James Longstreet having arrived earlier then expected had extended the Confederate lines eastward to Culp’s Hill, just slightly to the Southeast of Gettysburg.  The Federals had no choice left to them but to position themselves at the foot of Cemetery Ridge southward to the Little Round Top, while making every attempt to cover their position against any possible attack from well-positioned Confederates.  General Lee seeing this situation unfold ordered Stonewall Jackson to attacks the Federals form the Union left, Longstreet from their right, while Ewell and A.P. Hill would attack the Federals along the center of the line.  The Federal lines were not only over stretch but it appeared they were made to appear like sitting ducks in a shooting gallery.  Unknown to Meade, General Lee had held back Jubal Early's forces in order to close the trap on any Federals Army as suggested by Stonewall Jackson, who had contemplated an attempt on their part to escape what was obviously becoming a near complete encirclement, save for the rear position of the Union lines.
.

General Meade believing correctly that General Lee had positioned all of his forces on the high ground, was confident that if worse came to worse he could withdrawn to his rear in a southeasterly direction toward Two Taverns and escape possible annihilation.  While at the same time the Confederates under General Jubal Early had quietly slipped away as the various armies were on the move and positioned himself directly to Meade's rear between the Federals and Two Taverns.  Thus the door had been slammed shut on any possible Federals escape.  By the morning of 2 July the Confederates had acquired sufficient weapons and ammunition as a result of the previous day’s battle fortunes, which resulted in all of General Lee's Armies being present, well positioned and ready in every respect for what ever might unfold.  The Confederates began reigning what seemed like a solid wall of fire down upon the Federal Army under George G. Meade.  General Meade's army was visibly shaken by the unexpected and continuing heavy barrage, particularly given the shear numbers of cannon positioned upon the hills and ridges above him.
.

He knew it was only a matter of time before the softening up phase would end and an outright attack by the Confederate Cavalry and Infantry would begin.  Several Union attacks were attempted and repelled by the Confederates with little to show but more losses on the part of Meade's Army.   Meade found himself nearly surrounded by Confederates holding the high ground all about him, so he concluded that his only remaining choice was to withdraw and reposition his army.  This wasn't a retreat in Meade's mind but simply an effort to gain a more advantageous position, so Meade swallowed hard and ordered his army to regroup and withdrawn as planned toward Two Taverns.  General Meade looked about him wearily at the thought of leaving nearly a third of those who had marched with him into the area of Gettysburg the night before, now lying dead out there on the battlefield.  It was an hour later and approaching dusk before Meade's Army finished forming up into columns and started their march to the rear.   When as suddenly as the march began he was receiving heavy fire from his left, right and from what had previously been his rear position.  Meade was suddenly faced with only two options, continuing his line of march toward Two Taverns, suffering ever-greater losses or return to their former position and settle in until daybreak.  General Meade once again was forced to retreat from an ongoing battle, knowing his position was rapidly becoming untenable.

.
Rolling Up Yankee Lines

                                2 July 1863

..
Stonewall Jackson had decided that in defending the Confederate Left it would be best to position himself in the vicinity of the Big Round Top and the Little Round Top located to the South of Gettysburg itself.  At this juncture he would complete the southern end of the enclosure!   Stonewall was well aware of the positions of the other Confederate Armies as well as General Meade's Yankees.  He was also of a mind to adapt his strategy to changing conditions on the battlefield; and he was confident General Lee would see the adjustments in his strategy and close the vise on the Army of the Potomac.

.

Jackson could not help but notice that Meade was located southwest of Gettysburg, approximately half way up a line and in the middle of a horseshoe pattern within an encirclement by Confederate Armies, which stretched northward toward Gettysburg itself and eastward to Culp's Hill.  He therefore decided to send a message to General Lee informing him of his plans for moving his army northward and attacking Meade's left flank, but leaving a regiment behind at the Big Round Top.  Jackson further suggested that General Longstreet do likewise and move against Meade's right and together they would roll up the Union lines like a carpet from both ends.  Jackson began his march toward the Union Lines using whatever cover was available joining up with the other half of his army located in the vicinity of the Little Round Top.

.

It wasn't long before the outer fringes of Meade's lines came within view, while at the same time a messenger arrived indicating that Longstreet was now attacking Meade from the opposite end of his lines while Jubal Early was attacking from Meade's rear.  It appeared as though the Federals were not only encircled but caught inside a death grip from which there appeared to be no possibility of escape.   General Early was in a position to be immediately aware of both Jackson and Longstreet's moves and began to attack the rear of Meade's Army just as the attack from both ends of the line began.  In like manor Generals Ewell and Hill began their attack on the center of Meade's lines from the opposite direction.  General Meade was now in the impossible position of defending his position from every direction at the same time.
.

However Stonewall was unaware that a company of Yankees, seeing their likely demise, slipped through the Confederate lines heading south toward the general direction of the Big Round Top quite unaware of a Confederate regiment well dug and ready for whoever might decide to come their way.  After showering them with grape shot, those who survived then ran head long into a well positioned snipers and were cut to ribbons.  Whether these Yankees were truly attempting to escape a hopeless situation or had some other strategy in mind may never be known since none of them survived to explain their side of the story.  As the battle moved further away, a currier delivered new orders from General Jackson for them to take up a new position in the lines of attack against General Meade.  However guns began to fall silent as dusk settled on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, as the armies of both Confederate and Union settled in for the night, waiting to see what tomorrow might bring.
.
.
                           The Federal Demise
                                  3 July 1863 .

.

The evening before the last day of the Battle of Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee called a council of war with all of his generals present, among them were, Richard S. Ewell, A.P. Hill, James Longstreet, Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson and Jubel Early.  General Lee spoke first; "Gentlemen we have the enemy out maneuvered and surrounded.  The outcome is that General Meade will either face the destruction of his army or be compelled to surrender.  Therefore our concern is not only in controlling the conditions on the battlefield, but making sure Meade does not escape to fight another day.  General Meade's losses are obviously enormous judging by the number of blue clad soldiers laying out their on the battlefield.  While our losses are approximately a third of his numbers, still they will be difficult to recoup given our nation's present situation.  If we pursue an all out attack what will Meade do as a response?"   General Ewell responded, "He will make another attempt to escape!"  General Early then stated, "He will realize his only option is to strike our forces with all of his might!”

.
Then Lee turned to General Jackson and asked the same question, what will Meade do General Jackson?  "He will put up a modest fight, then in order to prevent any further effusion of blood, he will ask of you under what terms you will accept the surrender of his army!"   All right then, stated Lee, here's the strategy, I want those federals to be kept busy beginning an hour before daybreak. Your mission is to break their will to fight by making sure they have no time whatsoever in which to consider any other option but surrender.  I expect fire to reign down upon them from every direction and due to the blessing of Almighty God and our good fortunes during fighting thus far, we have sufficient ammunition, let us make effective use of it.  I want Meade's Army gentlemen, make no mistake about it, the future of our country depends upon that happening.  Just as General Lee had ordered, an hour before sunrise fire began reigning down from every side upon the Federal Forces, starting with a cannon barrage, which stunned Meade's Army completely.  This was followed up by cavalry and infantry attacks, which left the Federals with nowhere to turn for cover!

.

When sunrise came it found the Federal camp looking like a disaster zone caused by an earthquake or a hurricane and General Meade sitting on a stump discussing their next move with a couple of his Lieutenants.  "Perhaps, said Meade, we might consider what options still remaining open to us!"  Then Abner Doubleday responded; "General Meade, I should think it is obvious even to the most battle hardened soldier, we have been beaten and if we do not act soon, General Lee will open up again, and this time may well finish the remainder of us."   After a short while the discussions ended and General Meade relinquished, he then wrote a note addressed to General Lee and sent a currier under a white flag of truce to deliver the message.  General Lee's Army of Northern Virginia was preparing for yet another fiery reign upon the Federals, when the Yankee Currier was spotted approaching and was blind folded and given an escort into Lee's headquarters, which was now located in a tent closer to his own lines of battle.  The commotion outside caused him to exit the tent for to see what was happening!
.
.
                 General Meade Surrenders His Army
                                3 July 1863 P.M. .

.

General George G. Meade had decided to seek the surrender of his army just as Stonewall Jackson had predicted.  General Lee, who had required that any surrender must be unconditional on the part of General Meade, accepted the Federal surrender.  The surrender of the Federal Army at Gettysburg would begin a 2:00 P.M. that afternoon in regiment size numbers!   All wagons, weapons, munitions, medical supplies and foodstuffs were to be surrendered undamaged.  Arms carried by the soldiers would be stacked in an orderly fashion and all Federal Officers would temporarily retain their swords as a symbol of authority until the last of their troops had been processed for their march southward.  It was well after dark by the time the last of the Union Soldiers as well as the Officer Corps had been rounded up processed and headed south, thereby becoming prisoners of the Confederate States of America.  The Army of the Potomac from that moment passed into history!   General George G. Meade was brought before Lee for one last meeting of the two men before being taken away.  "General Lee, stated Meade, with your victory it seems obvious to me that your eyes are now on the City of Washington; is it not?”
.

General Lee paused then spoke to General Meade; "My eyes General Meade is on ending this terrible war as soon as possible.  We have seen enough bloodshed and I still have a nation to defend, on that there should be no doubt."  General Meade saluted Lee and Lee in returned the courtesy, as Meade was taken away into captivity.  Word of the astonishing Confederate Victory reached Richmond in the wee hours of the morning by special messenger after being relayed through Fredericksburg.   Growing crowds gathered in front of the Confederate Whitehouse to glean any possible information coming from the front lines of the war. The victory message had come directly from General Lee himself and addressed to President Jefferson Davis.   The president it seems could not sleep, spending most of the night pacing the floor and awaiting a progress report on this most crucial battle of the war.  A battle now being waged near a little village town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg!   The president knew this was a make or break situation for any chance of gaining Confederate Independence.
.

The commotion outside soon attracted the attention of the president and his staff, as the sight of a ragged and dusty carrier of good news made his way through the city on horseback.   The expression on the young private's face told the entire story!   Presidential guards had to push the crowds back, so the courier could make his way through in order to delivery his report.   The city was erupting into jubilation, even before the official word was out!  The Southern press would be busy this night, if they were to deliver the news of victory by daybreak.   There would be precious little sleep in the camp of the Army of Northern Virginia, given the task of rounding up and processing the multitudes of prisoners, as well as moving them south for incarceration.   The huge cache of badly needed stores from the surrendering Union Armies would have to be inventoried and distributed, as General Robert E. Lee made preparations for the continuation of the war.

                         Fear Strikes Washington
                                    4 July 1863
.
There was no joy in Washington as reports reached President Abraham Lincoln, who respond in blank astonishment at the news.   General Henry F. Halleck, Lincoln's Chief of Staff, after delivering the bad news had no idea as to how to answer his Commander in Chief concerning the surrender, or how he might sugar coat the horror that was plain for everyone see.   The Union President stood in stunned silence before reacting with a question!   What shall we do now Halleck?   We had the mightiest army in the world, an army that now lay in shambles and marching off to prison.   The northern press has no doubt received the news by this time and is scrambling for every bit of information possible before going to press.   In a few hours a shocked nation will learn the tragic news and they will have to face the realization, that the chances of a northern victory have been greatly diminished, if not dashed completely.  All this Halleck, will have been delivered to us from a little town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg.

.

The British having been divided up until now on whether to side with the Confederacy, will undoubtedly lend their full support after learning of the present turn of events.   The French have made no secret that given one major Southern victory they would form an alliance with the Confederate States.   The nations of Europe will inevitably favor the victor!   The combined British and French Navies will move to crush the Union Blockade by force, afterward-landing food, medical supplies, war material and troops on Southern Soil.   An emboldened South will demand nothing short of a complete and unconditional surrender of all Federal Forces!   And you can be certain Halleck, Bobby Lee has his eyes on Washington and he will soon be knocking at our gates.

.

Across the Southland early reports from Gettysburg have already encouraged the Confederate war effort, as sick and wounded soldiers began leaving their hospital beds, returning to duty in droves.   Many stragglers as well as those who had previously given up hope were rejoining their commands.  Throughout the north in States like Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Maryland and even New York; Copperhead groups were already scurrying about reassessing their plans in order to take full advantage of the changing fortunes of war.   Recruiting of Confederate troops in Maryland has already soared and expected to increase drastically!   Obvious nobody will want to miss out on the coming thrust against the Union Capital, in a battle that could end the war in favor of the Confederacy.  While General George G. Meade and his officers began their march southward, he spotted Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson mounted on horseback approximately a hundred yards away.  He was heard saying; "There stands Stonewall Jackson who survived a face to face clash with death, in order to become the instrument of our demise.  Save for Stonewall, these past three days would be a Union victory!"

.
Confederate War Effort Reinvigorated

1 August 1863
..

The news of the first two days of victory at Gettysburg had already reached Vicksburg and served to reinvigorate the besieged 29,000 Confederate Soldiers as well as the civil population a city under siege.   When news of that second day arrived in Vicksburg, word was forthcoming indicating the people of the city had foresworn themselves to hold out until reinforcements arrive, even if it meant complete starvation.   General Earl Van Dorn who had been spared from an assassin's bullet on 7 May had already began rebuilding his army and moving toward Vicksburg, and was even now rapidly approaching the city after hearing of the final defeat of the Union Armies at Gettysburg.   Since Van Dorn began his march, he had received numerous reinforcements and copious supplies which were delivered along the way, now he was arriving in the Vicksburg area in force.  General Van Dorn had been compelled to quicken his pace in order to arrive in time to save Vicksburg from a further tragedy.  These events have served to breathe a new breath of life into hopes of an ultimate Confederate Victory, as newspaper across the Southland went to press during the days following the victory.

.

Generals U.S. Grant and William T. Sherman's army, which were laying siege to Vicksburg, would now face Confederate force mightier then any army they had in the field.   Meanwhile talk in Washington had spoken of an evacuation of the Yankee Government!   Will Abraham Lincoln set up a new Federal Capital in Boston or New York and pursue the war from there, or will he seek a negotiated settlement with President Jefferson Davis?   Time was quickly running out for the Yankee President as General Robert E. Lee rapidly approached Washington with the entire Army of Northern Virginia at his back.   An army, which was growing in size and strength with every mile!  General Lee and his invincible army had finally crossed the Potomac and moved against the Union Capital, which was defended by fewer then 60,000 green garrison troops.   Approximately 25 percent of which had to be brought over from the Arlington side of the river!

.

President Lincoln will not be very popular among his fellow countrymen, once they are cognizant as to the full extent of their loss!  However the opposite is true of Jefferson Davis, as there will be much singing and celebration throughout the entire Confederacy, including a speech by the president himself in an address to the nation.  His speech will say in part, "The news of a glorious victory coming from a small town in Pennsylvania called Gettysburg has given us hope, that the Almighty God in his grace and mercy, has shed His blessing upon our arms.  The victory by General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia constitutes a major turning point of this terrible war in our favor.   The Almighty God has truly showered his blessing upon us; it would therefore be prudent that we respond with thanksgiving and prayer, that we might be found worthy of his good graces"   Ironically it would be the Mighty Stonewall Jackson who would out flank Washington's defenders, surround the Whitehouse and command the capitulation of President Abraham Lincoln.

.

God save the Confederacy

.

    .

{Click below, hyperlink attached}
.
Alphabetical
 Menu
Feature Articles
Inspirational Stories

Short Story Time
.

Free Hit Counters

  .
"We feel that our cause is just and holy; we protest solemnly in the face of mankind that we desire peace at any sacrifice save that of honor and independence; we ask no conquest, no aggrandizement, no concession of any kind from the States with which we were lately confederated; all we ask is to be let alone; that those who never held power over us shall not now attempt our subjugation by arms." --- President Jefferson Davis - 29 April 1861