By Monday, July 13, 1863 with Lee fortifying his position north of the Potomac River it seemed that the Union Army of the Potomac was finally moving into position to attack him. However, during the night Lee crossed the Potomac into the safety of Northern Virginia.
With the Army of the Potomac initiating an attack on the 14th, all Union forces found were abandoned Confederate entrenchments. When Abraham Lincoln in Washington received word that Lee had escaped destruction, to no one in particular the president was heard to mutter over and over “What will the nation say? What will the nation say?”
Meade had brought victory ten days earlier but had now allowed his foe to escape and to fight another day; a distressed Lincoln could scarcely believe it.