|Lee crosses the Potomac|
The failure of Pickett's charge signaled the end of Confederate offensives at Gettysburg. Lee's offensive strength had been used up. The army had tried for two days the break the same Union line, and they had failed. The only question remaining was what would be Meade's response on the 4th of July, 150 years ago today? Would he follow the example of George B. McClellan in the Seven Days and retreat after winning a victory? Would he just remain in position? Or would he attack the greatly weakened Confederate army? Lee kept his men in position hoping that Meade might withdraw from his lines. But as rain began to fall in the early afternoon, it became clear that Meade would not move, and Lee began making preparations for a withdrawal back to Virginia. That night the Confederate army set out, first Hill, then Longstreet and finally Ewell bringing up the rear.