View single post by Hellcat
 Posted: Tue Aug 17th, 2010 02:28 am
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Hellcat
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I don't think so. To make the claim Antietam/Sharpsburg would have been the major battle because of the Gettysburg Address not happening brings up the question of how Antietam/Sharpsburg would have been viewed if the Emancipation Proclamation hadn't happened or had occured much sooner. Lincoln had been working on the Emancipation since before the battle and had been prepared to release it well before Antietam/Sharpsburg. He was persuaded not to do so after the string of defeats the North had suffered and to wait for some great victory. First coming only a few days after the battle, it can be said to have been what historically made Antietam/Sharpsburg important.

Also there is the matter of the respective invasions. I don't think at the time Lee's first invasion was that shocking to folks in the North. I think it was more shocking that it hadn't happened sooner. It seems that following First Bull Run/Manassass it was expected that there would be an invasion to immediately follow up the South's victory. With Maryland so close to Virginia it seems more likely it was expected that it would be invaded, but that Lee would never push further north. So there was more of an uproar when Lee entered Pennsylvania. That's what would have really set Gettysburg apart and made it more important even without the Gettysburg Address, Lee had penetrated further north than anyone expected and there were fears he'd march on NYC, Boston, Philly, or any major northern cities. Of course in contrast there had to be the fear that Lee could march on the capital, a fear which seems to have been expected when you look at both how close DC was to the Confederacy and how many forts surrounded the city at that point in the war.

And of course there is the question as to the kind of victory. Meade won Gettysburg both strategically and tactically. But the same can not be said of McClellan as there are questions as to whether or not he won tactically. Remove both the Emancipation and the Address and it would be more how total the victory was that would cause both battles to be looked at in terms of their overall importance.

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