The end to fighting in the War Between the States came on 10 April 1865 when GEN Lee surrendered at the McLean house in Appomattox.
But might that surrender have been provoked two years earlier?
WHATIF Meade had trapped Lee during the retreat from Gettysburg?
This could have come about in either of two ways or a combination of the two. Meade could have agreed to the urgings of some of his commanders to pursue Lee. To do this effectively, he would have needed to split his forces (see Section 8b above). There is a slight possibility that by a forced march, Union forces could have arrived at the Potomac River crossing points before BG Imboden’s slow moving wagon train of wounded. They could have bottled up the entire Army of Northern Virginia west of South Mountain.
Alternately, Meade could have shifted other Corps of his army from the WASH DC area. It is pointed out in the third ALT HX novel by Newt Gingrich that a major advantage the Union had was the ability to rapidly shift large numbers of troops and large amounts of supplies by rail. The rail line that originated in Baltimore ran thru Fredericksburg MD and on to the west. This could have been used to out-flank Lee’s retreating force.
In one major point of irony, Lee’s objective was to end the war via a military victory in the north thereby bringing Lincoln to the negotiating table. A swift pursuit of the retreating Lee might just have turned that objective on its head and ended the war in favor of the Union nearly two years earlier!
As GEN Lee is retreating with huge losses from Gettysburg. MG Ulysses S. Grant is occupying Vicksburg and thereby establishing Union control of the Mississippi.
Independence Day 1863 was a day of glory and wonder for Abe Lincoln.