The National Archives has unveiled a handwritten note by Lincoln exhorting his generals to pursue Robert E. Lee’s army after the battle of Gettysburg, underscoring one of the great missed opportunities for an early end to the Civil War. "An archives Civil War specialist discovered the July 7, 1863, note three weeks ago in a batch of military papers stored among the billions of pages of historical documents at the mammoth building on Pennsylvania Avenue.
The text of Lincoln’s note has been publicly known because the general to whom Lincoln addressed it telegraphed the contents verbatim to the front lines at Gettysburg. There, the Union army’s leaders failed for more than a week to aggressively pursue Lee following his defeat." This is the note dated July 7, 1863 addressed to general Halleck, found in Basler, Vol. VI, p. 319:
"We have certain information that Vicksburg surrendered to general Grant on the 4th of July. 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."