Lee’s Invasion of Pennsylvania
While northern accounts of the battle at Gettysburg in early July 1863 claim it as a victory and “high water mark” of the American Confederate States, the actual result told a different tale. It is important to note that the enemy was far too exhausted to leave their trenches and fortifications to pursue Lee’s movement away from Gettysburg.
“Lee’s purpose to move northward into Maryland and Pennsylvania in late June 1863 was calculated to free Virginia, at least for a time at least, from the presence of a destructive enemy, to transfer the theater of war to Northern soil, and, by selecting a favorable time and place in which to receive the attack which his adversary would be compelled to make on him, to take reasonable chances of defeating him in a pitched battle. Lee knew full well that to obtain such an advantage on enemy soil would place him in position to attain far more valuable results than could be hoped for from like advantage in Virginia. But even if he were unable to attain a decided advantage over the enemy in Pennsylvania, it was thought that the movement north would at least disturb any enemy plans for a summer campaign of destruction in Virginia.”
It is additionally recorded that Lee’s operations to Gettysburg and back resulted in the expulsion of the enemy from the important Shenandoah Valley, the capture of four thousand Northern soldiers with a corresponding number of small arms, twenty-eight pieces of superior artillery, about three hundred much-needed wagons and as many horses, together with a considerable quantity of ordnance, commissary and quartermaster’s stores. (General Lee’s Report of the Pennsylvania Campaign). An important but little-noted aspect of the Gettysburg aftermath is the New York City riot of July 11th. The 37th Massachusetts and 5th Wisconsin regiments at Gettysburg were rushed to New York to battle angry citizens, mostly immigrants and members of the lower class who viewed conscription as slavery, while the wealthy could buy a substitute for $300. The clash took the lives of up to 120 residents.
(Four Years with General Lee. Walter H. Taylor. Indiana University Press, 1962. page 91)