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Decision 4 of 4
Result: Decisive Union Victory
On the afternoon of July 3rd, a thunderous artillery barrage opened fire on the Union center. Northern guns returned the fire with solid effect, but were then ordered to cease after an hour and a half to convince the rebels that the artillery preparation had been successful. Little did they realize that it was a diversion.
Over fifteen thousand soldiers of Pickett's division and brigades from the Confederate I and III Corps feinted toward the Union right flank but then advanced southeast towards Baltimore. Federal cavalry attempted to stop them, but failed against the combined arms of rebel infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
While the situation at Gettysburg was a stalemate, Meade was ordered to withdraw back to Washington to protect the capitol. Longstreet was able to capture Baltimore for a few days and burn most of it, but Meade's counterattack and the Southern forces' poor supply situation quickly forced the Confederate I Corps to rejoin the Army of North Virgnia further west. (Continued below map)
Several weeks of inconclusive posturing in Pennsylvania and Maryland ensued, but a major battle was avoided by both sides due to the horrendous casualties already suffered -- over 20,000 each. Eventually, with supplies running ever lower, the Confederate army was forced to retire back to Virginia closer to its source of men and material.
Through superior mobility and aggressive use of initiative, the battle was a tactical Confederate victory. However, the Union army persevered and prevented a complete defeat that could have ended the war. By winter, a new Union General named Ulysses S Grant was in charge in the east and never again would Lee's army invade the North.