--dead Confederate soldiers,
A reflection on Gettysburg, considered a win for the Union by some, but not all, and then a reflection on the connection between then and now.
The entire battle was a glorified meeting engagement as Lee did not properly control his cavalry assets. Whether Lee or Stuart is responsible is irrelevant: the Confederates were in enemy terrain without proper screening of their flanks and lacking long-range reconnaissance to identify the order of battle and approach routes of the U.S. Army. Lee's Army was not arrayed for battle and their approach march was not concentrated or properly coordinated.
The Confederates pushed the enemy on days 1-3, but did not punch. Their attacks were piecemeal, and as such, inconsequential. Even if all of the Confederate Corps' attacks had been successful, the Army of Northern Virginia lacked Army level reserves to exploit any local success. An attack must have military relevance, which includes a means of exploiting success. Actions like Pickett's charge was akin to bringing a knife to a gun fight, and even had he ruptured U.S. lines his Army could not have exploited the break.
The U.S. forces offer the teaching point in this battle, for up to this point the U.S. soldier was never outfought, but only out-Generaled. This time, the Generals were not deficient -- the Army fought as a unified entity, terrain was properly utilized and artillery was employed in a coordinated and integrated fire plan; textbook command and control. The Army responded as a well regulated unit.
The great failure of the fight was not tactical but strategic since the Confederates were not decisively destroyed, nor was their ability to maneuver crushed; it is difficult to criticize General Meade, however, since he was not tasked to destroy the Confederate Army. The glory at that time was to fight them to a standstill.
Meade did not press Lee mercilessly nor did he offer him battle on the 4th day, allowing the ANV battered forces to escape South.
Had Meade mercilessly blocked Lee's avenues of escape and destroyed his forces in piecemeal battles or in a coordinated effort, the war would have ended sooner.
The success of Gettysburg was the result of a total war effort, versus the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) which is just a nation flaying around without a clearly-stated mission. In 2013 there is no enemy Army to destroy and there is no way to destroy their will to fight since, unlike the Confederates, our opponents have unlimited maneuver space and boundless safe havens.
Maybe the PWOT is not a military construct after all, and is hampered by its emotional raison d'etre as was Lee's Army.