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  • Antietam -- Confederate Victory

    Just pondering the rammifications if those special orders had not fallen into the Cavarlymen's hand. Would Lee have been able to pull a victory and destroy McClellan or would we still know Antietam as the single most bloodiest day in history.
    Govenour Of Texas and all southern provinces. Kepper Of The Holy Woodchipper.

  • #2
    Most likely the battle would have happened somewhere else, because it was the discovery of those orders which gave Little Mac the foresight he otherwise always lacked and enabled him to intercept Lee at Sharpsburg in the first place.

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    • #3
      The miracle was in the fact that Lee's army even survived. The Army of Northern Virginia was still not confident in its leader, and the straggling rate was horrendous. Many soldiers had no interest in carrying the war into northern territory, so they either stayed behind or just went home.

      That being said, McClellan dropped the ball by not launching a full-scale assault and ending the war right there. His timidity was just inexplicable.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by BubbaScott7280
        Just pondering the rammifications if those special orders had not fallen into the Cavarlymen's hand. Would Lee have been able to pull a victory and destroy McClellan or would we still know Antietam as the single most bloodiest day in history.
        Well, first of all you'd be calling it Sharpsburg

        I agree with the comment already made that the battle would have taken place elsewhere since Lee had already moved past Sharpsburg and had to move back to it for the battle.

        Of course, you'd have to then guess where the battle would have occured had it not been along Antietam Creek. Maybe we'd be discussing the battle of Cashtown, or First Gettysburg.

        Had Lee been able to control the pace of things a little better...as I suspect he would have without being in the reactive mode he found himself in in the real battle, he might have been able to use Jackson's hammer to force the yankees against Longstreet's anvil, as I suspect he would have preferred to do, resulting in McClellan being crushed and therefore not a presidential contender in 1864 and delaying the Emacipation Proclamation.

        It's a good question, and one that leads to a lot of though and speculation.
        Last edited by Janos; 28 Jan 06, 07:32.
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        • #5
          I've read lots of commentary that had Lee not committed to Gettysburg or had been able to take and control Little Round Top, that the north no longer had stomach to press against the secessionists. Had that been the case, imagine the implications of the Divided States of America. Would we (just who "we" would be) have had any impact on WWI, WWII?
          It's not the critic who counts, the credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust, sweat & blood, who at worst fails while daring, so that his place shall never be with cold, timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Alone GreyWolf
            I've read lots of commentary that had Lee not committed to Gettysburg or had been able to take and control Little Round Top, that the north no longer had stomach to press against the secessionists. Had that been the case, imagine the implications of the Divided States of America. Would we (just who "we" would be) have had any impact on WWI, WWII?
            Wouldn’t have happened, Lincoln was determined to reunite the country and the Europeans would never have backed a slave holding country.
            Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedy. -- Ernest Benn

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            • #7
              Originally posted by tsar
              Wouldn’t have happened, Lincoln was determined to reunite the country and the Europeans would never have backed a slave holding country.
              The Europeans did not have to back a a slave holding state to attempt to end the hostilities and recognize the CSA. There were many in the governments of the UK and France who already wanted to recognize and even support the fledgling Confederate States.

              Also, with a loss at Gettysburg and a defeated Army of the Potomac, who knows what damage Lee could have done to the Norths moral for the rest of the summer of 1863? Certainly the moral boost of the Vicksburg victory is greatly reduced without the grand victory in the eastern theater.

              That is a big 'what if' especially considering that McClellan was rather close to Lincoln in the popular vote (though Abe dominated the electoral vote.).

              By 1864, people were already tired of war and the price being paid in blood.

              With a rebel victory at Gettysburg, the war may have been continuing for a year or two more than it did hstorically.
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              • #8
                Had R E Lee won at Sharpsburg, when would Lincoln have issued the Emancipation Proclamation? I suspect he still would have, but would have needed the right time.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Janos
                  Had R E Lee won at Sharpsburg, when would Lincoln have issued the Emancipation Proclamation? I suspect he still would have, but would have needed the right time.
                  Lincoln would have been forced to significantly delay the Emancipation Proclamation, and the political and public relations advantages he derived thereof.

                  One thing I've heard several historians discuss would have been an outright impeachment. The war was going against the Government on almost all fronts, and many (even Republicans) in Congress were wondering whether all the bloodshed was worth keeping the South in the Union.

                  I personally think Sharpsburg had much more a potential to be a war-changing battle than Gettysburg. Even had Lee triumphed at Gettysburg, the South still faced many challenges, most pressing being the fall of Vicksburg. In late 1862, however, the war seems to be going the Confederacy's way.

                  However, the tactical draw and strategic defeat of the Confederate forces at Sharpsburg changed the scene somewhat. It gave Lincoln just enough political capital to execute his great public relations coup in the Emancipation Proclamation. After the Proclamation, Lincoln was able to tie his reputation enough with the morally higher ground against slavery. This made criticism of Lincoln much more difficult, because anyone who criticized Lincoln could have been labelled a supporter of Lincoln. This effectively paralyzed Congressional outcry against Lincoln's stubborn support of the war.

                  Without Sharpsburg and the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln is in a very delicate position politically. The moderates and peace-supporters in Congress would have redoubled their outcry against the bloodshed, and Lincoln's political support would have continued to ebb away.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Consul
                    Lincoln would have been forced to significantly delay the Emancipation Proclamation, and the political and public relations advantages he derived thereof.

                    One thing I've heard several historians discuss would have been an outright impeachment. The war was going against the Government on almost all fronts, and many (even Republicans) in Congress were wondering whether all the bloodshed was worth keeping the South in the Union.

                    I personally think Sharpsburg had much more a potential to be a war-changing battle than Gettysburg. Even had Lee triumphed at Gettysburg, the South still faced many challenges, most pressing being the fall of Vicksburg. In late 1862, however, the war seems to be going the Confederacy's way.

                    However, the tactical draw and strategic defeat of the Confederate forces at Sharpsburg changed the scene somewhat. It gave Lincoln just enough political capital to execute his great public relations coup in the Emancipation Proclamation. After the Proclamation, Lincoln was able to tie his reputation enough with the morally higher ground against slavery. This made criticism of Lincoln much more difficult, because anyone who criticized Lincoln could have been labelled a supporter of Lincoln. This effectively paralyzed Congressional outcry against Lincoln's stubborn support of the war.

                    Without Sharpsburg and the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln is in a very delicate position politically. The moderates and peace-supporters in Congress would have redoubled their outcry against the bloodshed, and Lincoln's political support would have continued to ebb away.
                    The option of impeachment is not one I've heard before, but I think Lincoln could have survived it given his political savvy and being a wartime president.

                    The defeat would have damaged his reputation and political capital more, but he would have done as he had done before -- blamed the general (in this case McClellan) and fired him.

                    This, tied with the instution of conscription the following spring (may have even been needed earlier, given a CSA victory at Sharpsburg) may have disrupted things enormously in the north.

                    One issue we haven't discussed is the possible effect of this invasion's success on Maryland and Delaware. I think there is a good chance that the former may have been successful in seceding (at least to a divided status like Missouri and Kentucky). Maryland's secession or semi-secession would have had a major impact on Delaware, which would have been able to increase support for the CSA even more than they gave already.
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Janos
                      The option of impeachment is not one I've heard before, but I think Lincoln could have survived it given his political savvy and being a wartime president.

                      The defeat would have damaged his reputation and political capital more, but he would have done as he had done before -- blamed the general (in this case McClellan) and fired him.

                      This, tied with the instution of conscription the following spring (may have even been needed earlier, given a CSA victory at Sharpsburg) may have disrupted things enormously in the north.

                      One issue we haven't discussed is the possible effect of this invasion's success on Maryland and Delaware. I think there is a good chance that the former may have been successful in seceding (at least to a divided status like Missouri and Kentucky). Maryland's secession or semi-secession would have had a major impact on Delaware, which would have been able to increase support for the CSA even more than they gave already.
                      Not to mention, any trouble in Maryland would have had serious ramifications for Washington's security.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Consul
                        Not to mention, any trouble in Maryland would have had serious ramifications for Washington's security.
                        Absolutely.
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