This Week in the Civil War - 608
Lee’s battered Army of Northern Virginia retreated from Gettysburg, moving south toward Hagerstown, Maryland. Unfortunately, except for skirmishing by cavalry, Meade’s victorious Army of the Potomac did not vigorously pursue Lee even though heavy rains on July 4 had swollen the Potomac River, isolating the Confederates on the north side of the river.
From Lincoln and the Union War Department George Meade received multiple messages urging him to pursue Lee, given that the Confederates could not immediately cross the Potomac.
Knowing of Grant’s success at Vicksburg, on Tuesday, July 7, 1863 Lincoln wrote General Henry Halleck, acknowledging “Now, if General Meade can complete his work, so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the literal or substantial destruction of Lee’s army, the rebellion will be over.” Yet would Meade pursue?