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 (1863) Battle of Gettysburg
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DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 1528
Joined: 2005
Stuarts Virginia, Maryland & Pennsylvania Reconnaissance
2/6/2024 5:02:38 PM
Based on the orders given by General Lee to General Stuart for the Confederate march north into Pennsylvania, which would lead to the battle of Gettysburg, am I wrong in my following conclusions?

Gen. Lee's orders to Gen. Stuart were; “...take position on General [Richard S.] Ewell’s right, place yourself in communication with him, guard his flank, keep him informed of the enemy’s movements, and collect all the supplies you can use for the army.”

This seems to be more than just discretionary orders, of which I have read some say those orders allowed for Stuart to migrate on the path that he did which left him, or rather the C.A., and Gen. Lee wanting of critical intelligence of Union forces. We know when Stuart did arrive, Lee was acerbic in his initial commentary, questioning of Stuart. It befuddles me that Stuart moved east and away from the flank he was to protect and greatly lessened the capabilities of communicating the intelligence he was there to ascertain regardless of the booty he picked up, which too was part of his orders.

I know there is much more to this story, but it appears to me, that Gen. Stuart failed in his assignment. And yet there seems to be a waffling of such that he did or, that Gen. Lee allowed Gen. Stuart and his calvary to figure it out as they went.

Thoughts?

Dan

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"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." German officer, Italy 1944. “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford
scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 3271
Joined: 2010
Stuarts Virginia, Maryland & Pennsylvania Reconnaissance
2/6/2024 7:12:32 PM
First of all, Stuart was furious that he had been caught unprepared at Brandy Station and was anxious to repair his reputation.

My take is that the assignment, in it´s three parts - 1.guarding the right flank, 2.informing him of enemy movements and 3.collecting supplies - can be considered contradictory. Reconnaissance and foraging ( at which he was extremely successful but it slowed him down considerably ) requires in itself "dispersal", especially foraging. Whereas "defending the right flank" depends on remaining fixed to the flank and being "compact". It comes to an either/or . I think Lee should have dropped the foraging.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 230
Joined: 2020
Stuarts Virginia, Maryland & Pennsylvania Reconnaissance
2/8/2024 6:54:34 PM

Group,

“...take position on General [Richard S.] Ewell’s right, place yourself in communication with him, guard his flank, keep him informed of the enemy’s movements, and collect all the supplies you can use for the army.”

While this quote tells part of the story it also leaves out some more. That being that the message was a “letter” and not a formal “Order”
which includes a range of information including supposition about what was happening at that moment,
date June 22; six days before Hooker crossed the Potomac. It included, “I (Lee) do not know where he
(Hooker – enemy) is and what he is doing?”

And is certainly broadly discretionary in that it states a big “IF” – the situation that Stuart may find.
And given that what to do then, when the “order” is given. And then some more supposed info,
not certain at the time. And also, Lee did not send the letter to Stuart but to Longstreet with the
apparent idea of some coordination between Longstreet and Stuart. Longstreet did forward to
Stuart Lee’s letter but added to it in suggesting to Stuart that to pass in Hookers Rear would be
better than directly following Longstreet’s column down the valley and into Maryland
because it would make Lee’s strategy obvious to Hooker.

Lee did not object to Longstreet’s suggestion and let it stand.
Yes with 20/20 hindsight we now know this turned out badly but Lee, Longstreet Stuart
did not and could not know it at the time.

At the time Stuart was east of the Blueridge and watching the rear of hooker’s Army as it was closing on the Potomac.
On the 23rd Lee sent another letter to Stuart also broadly discretionary and that seemed to reverse
the plan to have the cavalry follow by the Valley.
Late on the 23rd a third letter was received by Stuart from Lee that again suggested
Stuart pass around the union rear into Maryland.

So yes, our 20/20 hindsight looks pretty bad on Stuart since we know the impact
on the outcome.
But in the contemporaneous instance that judgement must be much different.
Lee, Longstreet and Stuart all worked together to muddle a very fluid situation
changing hour by hour.
Its also important to recognize the reality of no instant telegraphic
communication of the day. All of this was carried out by horse mounted messengers
with each communication taking some hours and necessarily lagging the events.

Again yes, our 20/20 hindsight is great but may lead astray in understanding events as they occurred.

But good question and thanks

respectfully yours,
Mike_C.
mikecmaps
DT509er
Santa Rosa CA USA
Posts: 1528
Joined: 2005
Stuarts Virginia, Maryland & Pennsylvania Reconnaissance
2/8/2024 7:03:29 PM
Quote:
First of all, Stuart was furious that he had been caught unprepared at Brandy Station and was anxious to repair his reputation.

My take is that the assignment, in it´s three parts - 1.guarding the right flank, 2.informing him of enemy movements and 3.collecting supplies - can be considered contradictory. Reconnaissance and foraging ( at which he was extremely successful but it slowed him down considerably ) requires in itself "dispersal", especially foraging. Whereas "defending the right flank" depends on remaining fixed to the flank and being "compact". It comes to an either/or . I think Lee should have dropped the foraging.

Trevor


Wholeheartedly agree about the foraging Trevor, though a generous booty he did gather. But, that took Stuart and his men away, far away from the main, well items "1.guarding the right flank, 2.informing him of enemy movements" which, looking at a map, the movement of the Union forces, and I am trying to recall if General Lee anticipated Union forces would mirror-flank his army during the march up north in the manner in which they did, forcing Stuart to either cease the foraging to maintain the guarding and observation of Union forces.

It seems as if this was one of those situations once the feet and hooves started moving, the inertia of it all got the better of Lee & Stuart; and yes, I understand the impact Brandywine had on Stuart’s mind set. I should know the answer to this question but, as Stuart began his flanking movement, was he not aware of Union forces on his east flank, let alone further north along? On approximately June 17th, Stuart cut back south through three lines of routes of Union forces. By June 28th, outside of D.C., he knew all Union forces, minus those guarding D.C., were continuing north and were to his west side/left flank. One would think at that point, he would have moved west, located a gap to get back on the Union forces west flank to continue guarding the right and informing Lee of the enemy movements.

Easy for me to blurt out siting in Salt Lake City airport on a five-hour layover and far removed from those days back when, but time on hand gets me thinking and typing.

Dan

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"American parachutists-devils in baggy pants..." German officer, Italy 1944. “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” Lord Ernest Rutherford

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