ALTERNATE HISTORY is a genre where one makes a simple change to a known historical event and explores how that might have changed the history of the event or even of the world as we know it. Throughout history, the entire sequence of the future could have been changed if the outcome of a battle or other event simply went another way.
The Battle of Gettysburg presents us with 5 possibilities that could easily have altered the outcome. Four of these take the advantage over to the Confederate side. By the end of 1863, we could have had the formal recognition of the Confederate States of America is any of these paths in history were followed.
In chronological order these 5 events are:
- JEB Stuart does his job
- BG Buford does his job, and no more
- Lee decides to abandon Gettysburg and move south
- MG Sickles stays put
- The Day 3 artillery barrage succeeds
To my way of thinking, as I explore the likely outcome of changing each of these events, all but #4 result in a distinct advantage to Lee. Unfortunately, for Lee, if he got to #5, he was still likely to lose the battle due to a failure to have a plan to exploit any success of Pickett’s attack.