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Vague Orders, Hubris, and the Need for Redemption: J.E.B. Stuart’s Ride at Gettysburg

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Today I am going back to the archives and re-posting an edited version of something that is part of my unpublished Gettysburg Campaign text. James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart is legendary in American military history. A young cavalry officer from Virginia he was like a son to Robert E. Lee and was a man whose military accomplishments were matched by his unbridled vanity, which during the most critical moment in the history of the Confederacy led him to embark on an operation that left his commander in the lurch and helped doom the Confederacy. The story picks up following Stuart being surprised by Federal Cavalry at the Battle of Brandy Station in June of 1863 as Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was moving north in an attempt to bring the Army of the Potomac to Battle, destroy it, and end the war. Both Stuart and Lee had much to do with the failure of this plan, but I hope that you enjoy this account.

Peace

Padre Steve+

While the embattled “Fighting Joe” Hooker slowly pursued Lee with the Army of the Potomac, a drama of major significance to the battle Robert E. Lee’s own making was beginning to engulf his operations and leave him blind to the movements of the Federal Army. It involved Lee and his Cavalry commander, J.E.B. Stuart and would be the first of a number of mistakes that would characterize Lee’s campaign. All of these failures dealt with Lee’s singular inability to get his commanders to understand his intent for the campaign and his inability to clearly communicate his wishes.

The necessity of subordinate commanders understanding the intent of their superior is essential to the success of any military operation. During the Gettysburg campaign Lee failed miserably to communicate his operational plan and desire to his commanders. The episode with Stuart was one of several that paint a portrait of Lee not being as good of General as the myth surrounding him.

After the surprise at Brandy Station Stuart’s troopers screened the right flank of the army as it moved north, defending the gaps in the Blue Ridge to keep Alfred Pleasanton’s Federal Cavalry Corps from interdicting the march of the Army of Northern Virginia, or discovering the location of Lee’s three infantry corps which were moving north behind the cover of the Blue Ridge.

In this Stuart was successful, but frustrated. Between June 17th and June 21st his troopers fought a series of engagements against the aggressive Federal Cavalry at Ashby’s Gap, Middleburg and Upperville in Northern Virginia. While Stuart’s troopers had held off Pleasanton’s confident troopers the “running combats were taking a toll on the Southern mounted arm, however. Stuart had already suffered several hundred casualties defending gaps and passes.” [1] Much to their dismay the Confederates noted the improvements in the Federal cavalry during these battles. Captain William Blackford, who served as an engineer on Stuart’s staff noted:

“the improvement of enemy cavalry was enormous, mainly in the heavy fire from long range carbines, and horse artillery that was a match for Stuart’s own These cavalrymen fought as if they had been taken from infantry regiments, for they knew how to fight with horses left behind.” [2]

Unlike the rest of the Army of Northern Virginia that was marching like victors into Pennsylvania and Maryland, Stuart’s Cavalry Division had little cause to rejoice. They had been surprised at Brandy Station and Stuart had been humiliated in the Southern press. The Federal cavalry under Pleasanton gave him no opportunity to redeem himself. While Pleasanton’s troopers never broke through Stuart’s screen, they had pressed him hard, and his division was “really fought out during those two weeks from June 9 until the misty morning of June 22…. Not only had Stuart’s cavalry been pressed on the defensive as never before, but also they had not been able to gain a spot of information about the enemy.” [3] Pleasanton’s troopers and proven that the days of “easy Confederate cavalry triumphs were gone,” [4] and Stuart, now “smarting over the cuts to his ego, refused to read the portents” [5] of future disaster.

Stuart had been fighting defensively the entire campaign, but desperately wanted to go on the offensive. As his troops battled at Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville, Stuart formulated a plan that he submitted to Lee. Stuart reasoned since now that “all the infantry were west of the Blue Ridge…that it would be possible to leave one or two brigades of cavalry to defend the gaps and with the remaining three to descend on the enemy and harass Hooker in any advance into Pennsylvania.” [6] For him the plan was designed for personal glory and redemption after the embarrassment at Brandy Station.

On the morning of the 22nd of June Stuart noticed that the Federal cavalry that had engaged him at Upperville the previous day was no longer present. That morning he also received an order from Lee ; an order that was the first of a series of vague, poorly written and contradictory orders that was to plague Lee throughout the campaign.

Unlike his new infantry corps commanders, Ewell and Hill, Stuart was very familiar with Robert E. Lee’s method of command, and Lee had “so much faith in Stuart’s judgment and ability to make the right moves that after indicating his wishes he gave him considerable latitude in carrying them out. His orders were more suggestions than commands….” [7] However well that may have worked for Lee in the past with Jackson and Stuart, the nature of Lee’s orders to Stuart, being conditional, needed to clearly address “the conditions upon which they are based.” [8] This Lee did not do. His order read:

“I judge the efforts of the enemy yesterday were to arrest our progress and ascertain our whereabouts. Perhaps he is satisfied. Do you know where he is and what he is doing? I fear he will steal a march on us and get across the Potomac before we are aware. If you find that he is moving northward and that two brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your rear, you can move with the other three into Maryland and take position on General 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….” [9]

James Longstreet, commander of the Confederate First Corps who Stuart was cooperating with on the northward march, added his own comments to Lee’s instructions which even further clouded the order:

General Lee has enclosed this letter for you, to be forwarded to you, provided you can be spared from my front, and provided I think that you can move across the Potomac without disclosing our plans. He speaks of your leaving via the Hopewell Gap and passing by the rear of the enemy. If you can get through by that route I think that you will be less likely to indicate what our plans are than if you should be passing to our rear. I forward the letter of instructions with these suggestions. Please advise me of the condition of affairs before you leave, and order General Hampton, whom I suppose will leave here in command, to report to me at Millwood, either by letter or in person, as may be most agreeable to him.” [10]  

But even without an order from Lee, Stuart was already planning his offensive that he believed would restore his glory. He had sent Major John Mosby with a small detachment of troops to reconnoiter behind the Union lines. Mosby reported the location of all the infantry corps of the Army of the Potomac. Mosby reported to Stuart on June 23rd that the Federal corps were stationary and “were so widely separated…that a column of cavalry could easily get between them.” [11] It was news that Stuart was delighted to hear. Mosby painted a glowing picture of how an operation using the Hopewell Gap could create havoc in the Federal rear and cause panic in Washington as he could “severe communications between Hooker and Pleasanton, destroy a “large portion” of Hooker’s transportation, and take some of the pressure off Lee by creating a diversion for the Union cavalry.” [12]

The inactivity of the Federal army reported by Mosby was exactly the news Stuart wanted to hear, and he asked Lee for permission to plunge into the Federal rear, and in his after action report wrote:

“I submitted to the commanding general the plan of leaving a brigade or so in my present front, and passing through Hopewell, or some other gap in Bull Run Mountain, attaining the enemy’s rear, and passing between his main body and Washington, to cross into Maryland and joining our army north of the Potomac.” [13]

Lee was rather cryptic in his after action report and wrote “Upon the suggestion of the former officer (General Stuart) that he could damage the enemy and delay his passage of the river by getting to his rear, he was authorized to do so.” [14] In that same report of the campaign Lee wrote:

“General Stuart was left to guard the passes of the mountains and observe the movements of the enemy, whom he was instructed to impede and harass as much as possible, should he attempt to cross the Potomac. In that event, General Stuart was directed to move into Maryland, crossing the Potomac east or west of the Blue Ridge, as, in his judgment, should be best, and take position on the right of our column as it advanced.” [15]

That night, during a heavy rainstorm Stuart’s chief of staff Major McClellan received Lee’s reply to his superior’s request. When he received it he immediately delivered to Stuart. Lee’s instruction stated:

“If General Hooker’s army remains inactive, you can leave two brigades to watch him, and withdraw with three others, but should he not appear to be moving northward, I think you had better withdraw this side of the mountains tomorrow night, cross as Shepherdstown next day, and move over to Frederickstown.

You will, however, be able to judge whether you can pass around their army without hindrance, doing them all the damage you can, and cross the river east of the mountains. In either case, after crossing the river, you must move on and feel the right of Ewell’s troops, collecting information, provisions, etc.” [16]

However, Stuart does not deserve the entirety of the blame for what happened. The orders or suggestions that he received from Lee and Longstreet gave Stuart were “so badly worded that it is difficult to make sense of them.” [17] Lee implicitly trusted Stuart but he was wrong in assuming that the young officer should be able to divine his intent after Brandy Station without taking into account the effect the negative press of that battle had on his subordinate. Lee should have “established that Stuart’s most important task was to guard Ewell’s right and report on the direction of Hooker’s advance once Lee crossed the Potomac.” [18] This he did not do. Instead, Stuart was given several conflicting instructions. Lee directed that Stuart maintain contact with Ewell, screen the Blue Ridge gaps, collect information, “raiding around the rear of Hooker’s forces” [19] damaging the enemy and collecting supplies. Stuart could have done any of these tasks, but not all of them, and the smorgasbord offered by Lee played directly into Stuart’s need to redeem himself after the beating that he took in the Confederate Press after Brandy Station.

Specifically, Lee’s lack of clarity and vagueness allowed to Stuart interpret the order in a manner that benefited him. The order could easily be interpreted as getting Stuart and his men into Pennsylvania as quickly as possible to guard Ewell’s flank and discern the intentions of the enemy, which in hindsight appears to be Lee’s intent, or as permission to conduct a raid “roam in the enemy’s rear for an unpredictable period of time, raising havoc with his communications, supplies, and isolated commands” and then “seek out Ewell’s corps and use it as a place of refuge from an aroused enemy.” [20]

The fact is that as they are today that different standards apply to each course of action laid out by a commander and that orders must be clear, otherwise subordinates may interpret them in a far different manner that intended. Such vague orders can have far reaching effects, often contrary to the intent of the commander who issued them; this was the case here.

By giving Stuart the latitude to go around the Federal army Lee undercut his own preference that Stuart cross into Maryland via Shepherdstown and Frederick on June 24th. Lee had provided Stuart an opportunity for something that “Longstreet half-apologetically called “something better than the drudgery of a march around our flank.” [21] It was a critical mistake, which was then further compounded by Stuart and the movement of the Army of the Potomac.

Stung by the criticism of his conduct of the Battle of Brandy Station in the Southern press and frustrated by Pleasanton’s constant thrusts at his troopers screening Lee’s flank on the Blue Ridge Stuart interpreted the orders in the manner that appealed to Stuart’s sense of glory. He would repeat his triumph of the previous year when he rode around the Army of the Potomac. For Stuart this was a chance to regain the limelight and add to his luster. Stuart “summed up his interpretation of his orders when he said later: …it was deemed practicable to move entirely in the enemy’s rear, intercepting his communications with his base (Washington), and, inflicting damage upon his rear, to rejoin the army in Pennsylvania in time to participate in its actual conflicts.”[22]

Historians have long wondered why Lee was not more explicit in his orders to Stuart and why Stuart conducted an operation that left Lee blind and had no obvious advantages, except to allow Stuart to recover his tarnished reputation. Stephen Sears noted in his book Gettysburg that: “The very concept of Stuart’s expedition was fueled by overconfidence and misjudgment at the highest command level.” [23] In a sense the decision harkens back to the hubris of Lee and others about the superiority of his army, and Lee’s distain for the capabilities of Army of the Potomac and Federal troops in general.

In organizing his movement around the Army of the Potomac, Stuart decided to take his three best cavalry brigades with him, and leave the brigades of “Grumble” Jones and Beverly Robertson to defend gaps and screen the rear of the army. The choice was unfortunate; Robertson was unpredictable but was “senior to the dependable Jones” [24] who was considered the “best outpost officer in his command.” [25] The choice ridded Stuart of Robertson, who he did not trust in battle and Jones “whose antipathy for Stuart at least equaled Stuart’s for him.” [26] The intent was that Robertson would screen the army and follow it into Maryland, in fact Stuart gave Robertson “explicit instructions” [27] to do so, but instead “the two brigades would remain fixed, as if planted there, in an inanition of command which immobilized the men for whom Lee in Pennsylvania was anxiously watching.” [28] Longstreet had requested the industrious and dependable Hampton command the remainder of the cavalry, but Stuart disregarded his counsel and took Hampton with him.

Stuart set off with his three best brigades, Wade Hampton’s, Fitzhugh Lee’s, and Rooney Lee’s, the latter now with Rooney Lee having been wounded was under the command of Colonel John R. Chambliss. Chambliss was another former West Pointer who had retired from the old army but had responded to the call to secession.

Almost immediately after setting off Stuart and his brigades encountered a situation that should have immediately stopped movement to the Federal rear and instead brought Stuart to move back to the west of the Blue Ridge. Moving through Glasscock’s Gap Stuart’s troopers  “bumped unexpectedly into “an immense wagon train,” which happened to be the tail end of Winfield Hancock’s 2nd Corps, blocking the road in exactly the fashion Lee had described as a hindrance.” [29] Instead of going back when he had the chance Stuart elected to continue with his “plan to go around the Federal army. It was a crucial decision, for he still could have turned back without losing any more time.” [30] Even so, Stuart had to spend a day grazing his horses since he had no grain with him, delaying his advance north and east, placing him a day behind schedule. Though Stuart and his brigades made better time on the 26th, advancing twenty-five miles, he had to again stop to graze his horses at the Occoquan River. It had “taken forty-eight hours to march thirty-five miles.” [31]

Stuart continued on past the outskirts of Washington on June 27th and was again delayed when attempting to cross the Potomac at Rowser’s Ford where the “water level was two feet higher than normal.” [32] Upon crossing the river he then encountered a large Federal wagon train not far from Washington capturing over 100 wagons and 600 mules. He reveled in that feat and boasted that “he had taken more than one hundred and twenty-five best United States model wagons and splendid teams and gay caparisons,” containing “foodstuffs, oats, hay…bacon, ham, crackers and bread” but his progress was slowed by his enormous wagon train of captured supplies…” [33] He and briefly wondered “whether it might be worth “our entering Washington City” [34] before determining that the effort might be too costly.

On June 28th Stuart received word that Joe Hooker and the Army of the Potomac were across the Potomac. Likewise, Stuart “knew nothing of Lee’s position,” [35] and instead of abandoning the wagon train he sacrificed the speed and mobility of his brigades to keep it. This was a direct consequence of how badly Lee had written his order to Stuart. Now, “far from guarding Ewell’s right, he was now moving away from Ewell, with no idea where Hooker’s army might be and no communication with Lee, who frequently inquiring of his aides, “Can you tell me where General Stuart is?” [36]

On the wrong side of the federal army, encumbered by the captured wagon train, “Stuart would have to make a half circle of more than fifty miles around Gettysburg before arriving there about noon on the second day of battle with most of his troopers, his artillery, and his wagon train lumbering far behind him.” [37] On June 30th his men were engaged by Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal near cavalry division near Hanover, and “his men never fought more poorly…and General Stuart and his staff were nearly captured.” [38] By the time Stuart’s troopers arrived in Gettysburg, the once proud outfit was “exhausted and too late to be of any service.” [39] His arrival at Gettysburg was not a moment of triumph, but was humiliating. Instead of reporting to his commander with information that Lee needed, it was Lee who informed him of the position of his own army and the Army of the Potomac. Lee’s words to his much beloved subordinate were painful. He asked him “General Stuart, where have you been?” [40] Stuart seemed to wilt at his mentor’s words, and attempted to put the best face forward, and told Lee “I have brought you 125 wagons and their teams, General,” to which Lee replied “Yes, General, but they are an impediment to me now.” [41]

Stuart’s raid was disastrous for Lee. Until July 2nd, Lee was blind and had no idea where the Federal army was. He learned some when he told of the location of the Army of the Potomac by Longstreet’s scout Harrison on June 28th but even then he had no clear idea of the Federal Army’s location, strength, or intentions until the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg. Stuart’s ride was “an act of folly – ill-planned, badly conducted, and (until the very end) executed with an almost total disregard for anything for any interest other than the self-promotion of J.E.B. Stuart.” [42]

To be clear, a number of important military factors important to those involved in planning campaigns are clear: Deception, commander’s intent, and unity of command. Lee successfully used deception to prevent the Federals from discerning his purposes, but that initial success was compromised by his lack of clarity in communicating his intent for the campaign to Stuart, and by Stuart’s careless disregard of any other consideration but his own reputation and vanity.

Both Stuart and Lee share culpability for the failure of the Confederate campaign at the operational and tactical level. Of course they were not the only ones, Longstreet, Ewell, A.P. Hill, Harry Heth, and Jubal Early and many others had a share in the defeat, but Lee in his orders, and his protégé Stuart in trying to redeem his reputation were most culpable in the defeat at Gettysburg.

Notes

[1] Petruzzi, J. David and Stanley, Steven The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties and Maps, June 9 – July 1, 1863 Savas Beatie LLC, El Dorado Hills CA 2012 p.41

[2] Davis, Burke J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier Random House, New York 1957 pp.319-320

[3] Dowdy, Clifford. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg: The Death of a Nation Skyhorse Publishing, New York 1986, originally published as Death of a Nation Knopf, New York 1958 p.57

[4] Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee’s Lieutenant’s a Study in Command, One volume abridgement by Stephen W Sears, Scribner, New York 1998 p.553

[5] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.57

[6] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.553

[7] Coddington, Edwin B. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster New York, 1968 p.108

[8] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.108

[9] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.321

[10] Oates, Willam C. and Haskell, Frank A. Gettysburg: The Confederate and Union Views of the Most Decisive Battle of the War in One Volume Bantam Books edition, New York 1992, originally published in 1905 p.61

[11] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.109

[12] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.109

[13] McClellan, Henry Brainerd The Life and Campaigns of Major General J.E.B. Stuart Commander of the Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia 1885. Digital edition copyright 2011 Strait Gate Publications, Charlotte NC Location 6087

[14] Ibid. McClellan The Life and Campaigns of Major General J.E.B. Stuart location 6106

[15] Lee, Robert E. Reports of Robert E Lee, C.S. Army, Commanding Army of Northern Virginia Campaign Report Dated January 20th 1864. Amazon Kindle Edition location 285

[16] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.324

[17] Fuller, J.F.C. Decisive Battles of the U.S.A. 1776-1918 University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln 2007 copyright 1942 The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals p.226

[18] Korda, Michael. Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2014 p.540

[19] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.540

[20] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.110

[21] Guelzo, Allen C. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion Vintage Books a Division of Random House, New York 2013 p.96

[22] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.555

[23] Sears, Stephen W. Gettysburg, Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 2003 p.106

[24] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.63

[25] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.324

[26] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.63

[27] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.112

[28] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.63

[29] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.96

[30] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.112

[31] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.325

[32] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.112

[33] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.541

[34] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.98

[35] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.325

[36] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.541

[37] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.541

[38] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.73

[39] Ibid. Fuller Decisive Battles of the U.S.A. 1776-1918 p.227

[40] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.334

[41] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.334

[42] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.98

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The Battle of Brandy Station

Cav Fight at Brandy Station

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Today I take a look back at the battle of Brandy Station, the largest cavalry battle every fought on the North American continent. This is a section of my draft Gettysburg campaign text.

Have a great day,

Peace

Padre Steve+

Movement to attain operational reach and maneuver are two critical factors in joint operations. In the time since the American Civil War the distances that forces move to engage the enemy, or maneuver to employ fires to destroy his forces have greatly increased. Movement may be part of an existing Campaign Plan or Contingency Plan developed at Phase 0; it also may be part of a crisis action plan developed in the midst of a campaign. Lee’s movement to get to Gettysburg serves as an example of the former, however, since his forces were already in contact with the Army of the Potomac along the Rappahannock and he was reacting to what he felt was a strategic situation that could not be changed but by going on the offensive that it has the feel of a Crisis Action Plan. Within either context other factors come into play: clarity of communications and orders, security, intelligence, logistics and even more importantly the connection between operational movement and maneuver; the Center of Gravity of the enemy, and national strategy. Since we have already discussed how Lee and the national command authority of the Confederacy got to this point we will now discuss the how that decision played in the operational and tactical decisions of Lee and his commanders as the Army of Northern Virginia began the summer campaign and the corresponding actions of Joseph Hooker and the his superiors in Washington.

“One of the fine arts of the military craft is disengaging one’s army from a guarding army without striking sparks and igniting battle.” [1] On June 3rd 1863 Robert E. Lee began to move his units west, away from Fredericksburg to begin his campaign to take the war to the North. He began his exfiltration moving Second Corps under Richard Ewell and First Corps under James Longstreet west “up the south bank of the Rappahannock to Culpepper, near which Hood and Pickett had been halted on their return from Suffolk.” [2] Rodes’ division of Second Corps followed on June 4th with Anderson and Early on June 5th. Lee left the three divisions of A.P. Hill’s Third Corps at Fredericksburg to guard against any sudden advance by Hooker’s Army of the Potomac toward Richmond. Lee instructed Hill to “do everything possible “to deceive the enemy, and keep him in ignorance of any change in the disposition of the army.” [3]

The army was tremendously confident as it marched away from the war ravaged, dreary and desolate battlefields along the Rappahannock “A Captain in the 1st Virginia averred, “Never before has the army been in such a fine condition, so well disciplined and under such complete control.” [4] Porter Alexander wrote that he felt “pride and confidence…in my splendid battalion, as it filed out of the field into the road, with every chest & and ammunition wagon filled, & and every horse in fair order, & every detail fit for a campaign.” [5] Another officer wrote to his father, “I believe there is a general feeling of gratification in the army at the prospect of active operations.” [6]

Lee’s plan was to “shift two-thirds of his army to the northwest and past Hooker’s flank, while A.P. Hill’s Third Corps remained entrenched at Fredericksburg to observe Hooker and perhaps fix him in place long enough for the army to gain several marches on the Federals.” [7] In an organizational and operational sense that Lee’s army after as major of battle as Chancellorsville “was able to embark on such an ambitious flanking march to the west and north around the right of the army of the Potomac….” [8]

However, Lee’s movement did not go unnoticed; Hooker’s aerial observers in their hot air balloons “were up and apparently spotted the movement.” [9] But Hooker was unsure what it meant. He initially suspected that “Lee intended to turn the right flank of the Union army as he had done in the Second Bull Run Campaign, either by interposing his army between Washington and the Federals or by crossing the Potomac River.” [10] Lee halted at Culpepper from which he “could either march westward over the Blue Ridge or, if Hooker moved, recontract at the Rappahannock River.” [11]

Hooker telegraphed Lincoln and Halleck on June 5th and requested permission to advance cross the river and told Lincoln that “I am of opinion that it is my duty to pitch into his rear” [12] possibly threatening Richmond. Lincoln ordered Hooker to put the matter to Halleck, with whom Hooker was on the worst possible terms. Hooker “pressed Halleck to allow him to cross the Rappahannock in force, overwhelming whatever rebel force had been left at Fredericksburg, and then lunging down the line of the Virginia Central toward an almost undefended Richmond.” [13] On the morning of June 6th Hooker ordered pontoon bridges thrown across the river and sent a division of Sedgwick’s VI Corps to conduct a reconnaissance in force against Hill.

Lincoln and Halleck immediately rejected Hooker’s request. Lincoln “saw the flaw in Hooker’s plan at once” [14] and replied in a very blunt manner: “In one word,” he wrote “I would not take any risk of being entangled upon the river, like an ox jumped half over a fence and liable to be torn by dogs front and rear, without a fair chance to gore one way or kick another.” [15] Halleck replied to Hooker shortly after Lincoln that it would “seem perilous to permit Lee’s main force to move upon the Potomac [River] while your army is attacking an intrenched position on the other side of the Rappahannock.” [16] Lincoln, demonstrating a keen regard for the actual center of gravity of the campaign, told Hooker plainly that “I think Lee’s army and not Richmond, is your objective point.” [17]

The fears of Lincoln and Halleck were well founded. In stopping at Culpepper Lee retained the option of continuing his march to the Shenandoah and the Potomac, or he could rapidly “recall his advanced columns, hammer at Hooker’s right flank, and very possibly administer another defeat even more demoralizing than the one he suffered at Chancellorsville.” [18] Hooker heeded the order and while Hooker maintained his bridgehead over the Rappahannock he made no further move against Hill’s well dug in divisions.

Meanwhile, J.E.B. Stuart and his Cavalry Corps had been at Brandy Station near Culpepper for two weeks. Culpepper in June was a paradise for the cavalry, and with nearly 10,000 troopers gathered Stuart ordered a celebration, many dignitaries were invited and on June 4th Stuart hosted a grand ball in the county courthouse. On the 5th Stuart staged a grand review of five of his brigades. Bands played as each regiment passed in review and one soldier wrote that it was “One grand magnificent pageant, inspiring enough to make even an old woman feel fightish.” [19] The review ended with a mock charge by the cavalry against the guns of the horse artillery which were firing blank rounds. According to witnesses it was a spectacular event, so realistic and grand that during the final charge that “several ladies fainted, or pretended to faint, in the grandstand which Jeb Stuart had had set up for them along one side of the field.” [20] That was followed by an outdoor ball “lit by soft moonlight and bright bonfires.” [21] Stuart gave an encore performance when Lee arrived on June 8th, minus the grand finale and afterward Lee wrote to his wife that “Stuart was in all his glory.” [22]

Hooker received word from the always vigilant John Buford, of the First Cavalry Division on the night of June 6th that “Lee’s “movable column” was located near Culpepper Court House and that it consisted of Stuart’s three brigades heavily reinforced by Robertson’s, “Grumble” Jones’s, and Jenkins’ brigades.” [23] Hooker digested the information and believed that Stuart’s intent was to raid his own rear areas to disrupt the Army of the Potomac’s logistics and communications. The next day Hooker ordered his newly appointed Cavalry Corps Commander, Major General Alfred Pleasanton to attack Stuart.

After Chancellorsville, Hooker had reorganized the Union cavalry under Pleasanton into three divisions and under three aggressive division commanders, all West Pointers, Brigadier General John Buford, Brigadier General David Gregg and Brigadier General Judson Kilpatrick. While Stuart conducted his second grand review for Lee Pleasanton quietly massed his cavalry “opposite Beverly Ford and Kelly’s Ford so as to cross the river in the early morning hours of June 9th and carry out Hooker’s crisp orders “to disperse and destroy” the rebel cavalry reported to be “assembled in the vicinity of Culpepper….” [24] Pleasanton’s cavalry was joined by two mixed brigades of infantry “who had the reputation of being among the best marchers and fighters in the army.” [25] One brigade, commanded by Brigadier General Adelbert Ames consisted of five regiments drawn from XI Corps, XII Corps, and III Corps was attached to Buford’s division. The other brigade, under the command of Brigadier General David Russell was composed of seven regiments drawn from I Corps, II Corps and VI Corps. [26]

Stuart’s orders for June 9th were to “lead his cavalry division across the Rappahannock to screen the northward march of the infantry.” [27] The last thing that Stuart expected was to be surprised by the Federal cavalry which he had grown to treat with distain. Stuart who was at his headquarters “woke to the sound of fighting” [28] as Pleasanton’s divisions crossed the river and moved against the unsuspecting Confederate cavalry brigades.

The resultant action was the largest cavalry engagement of the war. Over 20,000 troopers engaged in an inconclusive see-saw battle that lasted most of the day. Though a draw “the rebels might have been swept from the field had Colonel Alfred N. Duffie, at the head of the Second Division acted aggressively and moved to the sounds of battle.” [29] The “Yankees came with a newfound grit and gave as good as they took.” [30] Porter Alexander wrote that Pleasanton’s troopers “but for bad luck in the killing of Col. Davis, leading the advance, would have probably surprised and captured most of Stuart’s artillery.” [31] Stuart had lost “over 500 men, including two colonels dead,” [32] and a brigade commander, Fitzhugh “Rooney” Lee, General Lee’s son, badly wounded. While recuperating at his wife’s home a few weeks later Lee “was captured by the enemy.” [33] Stuart claimed victory as he lost fewer troops and had taken close to 500 prisoners and maintained control of the battlefield.

But even Confederate officers were critical. Lafayette McLaws of First Corps wrote “our cavalry were surprised yesterday by the enemy and had to do some desperate fighting to retrieve the day… As you will perceive from General Lee’s dispatch that the enemy were driven across the river again. All this is not true because the enemy retired at their leisure, having accomplished what I suppose what they intended.” [34] Captain Charles Blackford of Longtreet’s staff wrote: “The fight at Brandy Station can hardly be called a victory. Stuart was certainly surprised, but for the supreme gallantry of his subordinate officers and men… it would have been a day of disaster and disgrace….” The Chief of the Bureau of War in Richmond, Robert H.G. Kean wrote “Stuart is so conceited that he got careless- his officers were having a frolic…” [35] Brigadier General Wade Hampton had the never to criticize his chief in his after action report and after the war recalled “Stuart managed badly that day, but I would not say so publicly.” [36]

The Confederate press was even more damning in its criticism of Stuart papers called it “a disastrous fight,” a “needless slaughter,” [37]and the Richmond Examiner scolded Stuart in words that cut deeply into Stuart’s pride and vanity:

The more the circumstances of the late affair at Brandy Station are considered, the less pleasant do they appear. If this was an isolated case, it might be excused under the convenient head of accident or chance. But the puffed up cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia has twice, if not three times, surprised since the battles of December, and such repeated accidents can be regarded as nothing but the necessary consequences of negligence and bad management. If the war was a tournament, invented and supported for the pleasure of a few vain and weak-headed officers, these disasters might be dismissed with compassion, But the country pays dearly for the blunders which encourage the enemy to overrun and devastate the land, with a cavalry which is daily learning to despise the mounted troops of the Confederacy…” [38]

But the battle was more significant than the number of casualties inflicted or who controlled the battlefield at the end of the day. Stuart had been surprised by an aggressively led Union Cavalry force. The Union troopers fought a stubborn and fierce battle and retired in good order. Stuart did not appreciate it but the battle was a watershed, it ended the previous dominance of the Confederate Cavalry arm. It was something that in less than a years’ time would cost him his life.

Notes

[1] Sears, Stephen W. Gettysburg, Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 2003 p.59

[2] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two Fredericksburg to Meridian Random House, New York 1963 p.436

[3] Trudeau, Noah Andre. Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2002 p.25

[4] Wert, Jeffry D. A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph 1862-1863 Simon and Schuster, New York and London 2011 p.218

[5] Alexander, Edward Porter. Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander edited by Gary Gallagher University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1989 p.221

[6] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.219

[7] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.60

[8] Korda, Michael. Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2014 p.530

[9] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.436

[10] Wert, Jeffry D. The Sword of Lincoln: The Army of the Potomac Simon and Schuster, New York and London 2005 p.260

[11] Dowdy, Clifford. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg: The Death of a Nation Skyhorse Publishing, New York 1986, originally published as Death of a Nation Knopf, New York 1958 p.37

[12] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.61

[13] Guelzo, Allen C. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion Vintage Books a Division of Random House, New York 2013 p.50

[14] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.260

[15] Fuller, J.F.C. Decisive Battles of the U.S.A. 1776-1918 University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln 2007 copyright 1942 The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals p.223

[16] Ibid Trudeau Gettysburg a Testing of Courage p.26

[17] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.50

[18] Coddington, Edwin B. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster New York, 1968 p.53

[19] Davis, Burke J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier Random House, New York 1957 p.304

[20] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.437

[21] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.63

[22] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.221

[23] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.54

[24] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.64

[25] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.54

[26] Petruzzi, J. David and Stanley, Steven The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties and Maps, June 9 – July 1, 1863 Savas Beatie LLC, El Dorado Hills CA 2012 p.7

[27] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.64

[28] Ibid. Davis JEB Stuart p.306

[29] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.261

[30] Wert, Jeffry D. General James Longstreet The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster, New York and London 1993 p. 251

[31] Ibid. Alexander Fighting for the Confederacy p.223

[32] Ibid. Davis JEB Stuart p.310

[33] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.221

[34] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.59

[35] Ibid. Davis JEB Stuart p.310

[36] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.60

[37] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.57

[38] Ibid. Davis JEB Stuart p.311-312

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The Road to Gettysburg: Lee is Puzzled as Meade Acts

Lee1

General Robert E. Lee

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

For those that have followed my writing for some time you know that I teach military history and ethics at the Joint Forces Staff College. One of the great joys that I have is leading the Gettysburg Staff Ride, which is an optional event for students that want to participate. When I took the position here I took some of my older writings on Gettysburg and put them into a student study guide and text. That was two years ago. Then the text was about 70 pages long. It is now about 870 pages long and eventually I hope to get it published. When and if that happens I expect it to become two, and possibly three books.

This is the third of a series of articles that I will be posting potions of a chapter that I have rewritten about the surprises that various commanders experienced on June 28th 1863. The lessons for today are that war, any war, is the realm of chance, as such, surprises always happen. It is said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, but some plans don’t survive that long. As you read this don’t just look at the events, but look at the people, and their reaction to the surprises that they encountered, for that is where we come to understand history.

So even if you are not a Civil War buff, or even a history buff, take the time to look at the people, their actions, and the things that made them who they were, and influenced what they did. History is about people.

So please enjoy,

Peace

Padre Steve+

Any commander that embarks on a high risk offensive operation in enemy territory must do so with great care, especially in regard to command and control of his forces. This is especially true regarding reconnaissance. By June 28th Lee had been operating blind for well over a week, and this was in large part his own fault.

There are two reasons for this. The first of these was his decision regarding Stuart’s cavalry. The orders that Lee issued were so vague that Stuart was free to interpret them in any way that suited him. The result was that Stuart and the cavalry that Lee was counting on to screen his own army and keep tabs on the Federal army was well to the east and completely useless to Lee. Now Lee was reaping the fruit of his carelessness and overconfidence as he bemoaned his lack of contact with Stuart.

The second reason is that Lee failed to wisely employ the cavalry that he did have available, which by all means should have been enough to provide what Lee needed. After all, Lee still had three brigades of Stuart’s Cavalry Division available, but none were in a position to assist his reconnaissance needs. Some of this is Stuart’s fault, and some the fault of the commander of the forces left behind to screen Lee, but at least some of the blame for this has to be laid at the feet of Lee. Robertson’s and Jones’ brigades were still deep in Virginia guarding Snicker’s and Ashby’s Gap. Imboden’s Brigade was to the west at Hancock Maryland. Jenkins’ brigade, which was not a part of Stuart’s division, was far to the front with Ewell’s Corps.

Had Robertson followed Stuart’s orders “Lee would not have felt the want of adequate cavalry support” [1] but since Robertson had remained stationary Lee had nothing available when he needed it and made no effort to bring these units up to help.

In selecting Jones’ and Robertson’s brigades for the mission of screening Lee, Stuart made a critical mistake. Jones and Robertson both had serious deficiencies as leaders and proved that neither had Lee’s “confidence or understood his expectations…and Stuart badly misread the amount of personal connection his superior required.” [2] Jones was actually the better officer, but was junior to Robertson who failed miserably.

While Lee’s orders to Stuart allowed him to go off on his mission, Lee still had plenty of cavalry available had he employed it well. However, Lee employed it in a woeful manner and did not take the steps necessary to ensure that the commanders assigned understood his expectations. This was another critical mistake made by Lee. Alan T. Nolan wrote: “There seems to be no excuse for Lee’s finding himself at Chambersburg on the 28th without a single regiment of cavalry” [3] The tragic thing for the Confederacy was that Lee would make this same mistake in failing to communicate his intent with other subordinates throughout the campaign.

Late on the night of June 28th Lieutenant General James Longstreet “was woken by someone banging on his tent pole.” [4] It was his assistant Inspector General, Major John W. Fairfax. Fairfax had with him a man claiming to have information on the movement and location of the Army of the Potomac. The man’s name was Henry Thomas or “Harry” Harrison and he was an actor. Longstreet hired him as a “scout” or what we would now term a spy during the Suffolk campaign. Longstreet paid Harrison in U.S. dollars versus Confederate money, something that Moxey Sorrel said was worth it because he “always brought us true information.” [5]

Harrison was described as an “altogether an extraordinary character” [6] by Sorrel, and was one of those mysterious figures that occasionally show up in the context of a historical event and make it even more interesting. Very few senior Confederate commanders employed spies, “but Longstreet, with his usual care for detail, saw that his spies were well chosen and diligent.” [7] On this expedition Longstreet paid Harrison in gold and instructed him “to travel to Washington and secure any information he could obtain.” [8] He gave the spy a long leash and told him “I did not care to see him again till he could bring me information of importance.” [9]

Harrison arrived at Longstreet’s headquarters having been detained by men of Pickett’s division “dirt-stained, travel-worn, and very broken down.” [10] The spy brought Longstreet the first information about the whereabouts and situation of the Army of the Potomac that the army had since before Brandy Station.

Harrison brought news of Hooker’s relief and replacement by Meade as well as the location of the Federal army. He noted the location of John Buford’s Cavalry division as well as the location of five of the Army of the Potomac’s seven army corps, all of which were too close for comfort. Though his information was now almost two days old it was shocking. While Lee and his subordinates believed that the Army of the Potomac was still south of the Potomac, Harrison reported that “Hooker’s army had begun crossing the river three days before and was now well up into Maryland.” [11] The information was

Questioned by Longstreet about the location and activities of Stuart, Harrison could give no information, but the news that he brought was electrifying, and Longstreet immediately sent Harrison accompanied either by Sorrel or Fairfax to Lee’s headquarters.

Lee’s aide Walter Taylor noted “Great was his surprise and annoyance, therefore, when on June 28th he received information from one of the scouts to the effect that the Federal army had crossed the Potomac…” [12] Lee distrusted spies and did not employ them, but when whichever aide was present “vouchsafed for Longstreet’s confidence in him” [13] Lee “listened to Harrison’s report with “great composure and minuteness.” [14] The “contents, timing, and source of the spy’s report bothered Lee.” It was upsetting, especially since it “was brought by a person unknown to him whose word had to be taken on faith” [15] rather than from Stuart who he implicitly trusted.

However, Lee was “very reluctant to make a move without confirmation of his cavalry.” [16] Lee was skeptical of the report given by Harrison, especially because Stuart had not reported anything. He told Fairfax “I do not know what to do….I cannot hear from General Stuart, the eye of the army. What do you think of Harrison? I have no confidence in any scout, but General Longstreet thinks a good deal of Harrison.” [17]

Lee’s puzzlement at finding the federal army across the Potomac is curious. As early as June 23rd he had known of the pontoon bridge being built over the Potomac. However, Lee decision making process seemed paralyzed by the absence of Stuart. The surprise of the Union Army being concentrated so near him took away Lee’s ability to retain the initiative of a campaign of maneuver.

Because his army was so scattered he was now in danger of being hit and defeated in detail by the Federal army, “Meade, in short, might be able to do what he had planned to do to Hooker- defeat him in detail.” [18] It was a dangerous position for him to be in and he knew it. In a sense he was fortunate that on June 28th the Army of the Potomac was in the midst of changing command and thus unable to strike while his army was so vulnerable.

With the knowledge that the Federal army was near Lee acted with alacrity to concentrate his army in the Cashtown and Gettysburg area. “Within eight hours of Harrison’s report to Lee” [19] Lee had set in motion orders to all commands of his scattered army. Lee still had “no idea of the whereabouts of the enemy’s forces beyond what Longstreet’s spy had just told him- information that was already twenty-four hours old,” and he did have “any idea of how to remedy this intelligence gathering void.” [20]

Lee knew precious little other than the fact that “Hooker’s army, now under Meade, was across the mountain from him and that it was Stuart who was still in Virginia.” [21] He had learned the latter information from Captain James Power Smith who informed Lee that he had met two troopers of Stuart’s division who:

“casually told him that on the preceding day (Saturday the 27th) that they had left the main body of cavalry under Stuart in Prince William County back in northern Virginia. When Smith passed on this information, General Lee, he said, “was evidently surprised and disturbed.” [22]

Another consequence of his lack of available cavalry was that he had to leave Pickett’s division to guard the rear until Imboden’s cavalry could arrive to take up the task. Imboden’s troops had been far to the west completely away from the army when Lee discovered their location. Because of this Pickett’s division was detained to guard the army’s trains far to the rear of the march. This would be another unfortunate consequence of Stuart’s absence that would plague Lee during the battle, especially on July 2nd, when Longstreet’s corps would be without Pickett’s troops as they assaulted the Federal left.

On the afternoon of June 29th Lee met with a number of officers and his outward calm was still present. He told them “Tomorrow, gentlemen, we will not move to Harrisburg, as we expected, but will go over to Gettysburg and see what General Meade is after.” [23] When questioned by his subordinates about the relief of Hooker, and by his replacement by Lee’s former subordinate, Meade, Lee noted “General Meade will commit no blunder in my front, and if I make one he will make haste to take advantage of it.” [24]

Despite his surprise Lee was still confident. He had not fully appreciated Harrison’s information. He believed that instead of concentrating for battle that “the Army of the Potomac was shaking itself into pieces that Lee could turn upon and beat one by one, with the all the odds in his favor.” [25] Likewise he was confident that Meade would be so cautious as to not seek out an engagement, or would if forced by Washington attack him on ground of his choosing.

Implicit in Lee’s orders to concentrate east of the South Mountain range near Gettysburg was “his deliberate challenge to the enemy.” [26] Rather than waiting for the Federals to come after him he would seek them out. When John Bell Hood visited Lee, Lee remarked “Ah! General, the enemy is a long time in finding us….If he does not succeed soon, we must go in search of him.” [27] In moving his army east, “he gave away his exact location….By June 29th the approach of the Confederate army was evident to the people of Gettysburg.” [28]

Meade too had recognized the importance of Gettysburg and began to move his forces toward the town even as Lee tried to concentrate his army. On the evening of June 29th Meade sent the 1st Cavalry Division under the command of Brigadier General John Buford, a seasoned Indian fighter ahead to Gettysburg. In Buford Meade had something that Lee currently was missing, an outstanding cavalry officer in the time and place that he needed one. “Buford was a supremely confident and tenacious soldier” [29] who would provide Meade with the information that he needed to enter the battle, while Lee was practically blind due to the absence of Stuart and the mishandling of the cavalry that he should have had available.

While Lee’s army was still greatly scattered and few divisions in a place that they could provide support to each other, Meade was concentrating his army. After ordering Buford to Gettysburg he stopped the advance towards the Susquehanna and “redirected the 1st, 3rd and 11th Corps north toward Emmitsburg and the Pennsylvania state line, and the 2nd, 5th, 6th and 12th Corps to the northeast toward Pipe Creek and Taneytown.” [30]

Buford arrived and survey the ground around Gettysburg. He reconnoitered all the ridges to the front as well as Cemetery Hill and Ridge and there was nothing that his trained eye missed. Noting how the Schoolhouse Ridge, Herr’s Ridge, McPherson’s Ridge and Seminary Ridge offered successive lines of good ground for defense, and that Cemetery Hill provided a rally point he thought his plan through. He realized that the Confederates would have to come up to Gettysburg along the Cashtown Pike and that even a small force such as his could delay the enemy advance.

With that in mind, Buford made his decision. He convinced himself that “he could pull off something never achieved in this war: a defense in depth by dismounted cavalry against a large force of foot soldiers with artillery support.” [31] He also took into account the approach of Ewell’s troops from the north, and deployed one of his brigades to watch it. It was a calculated risk, if the Federal infantry did not come up to support him in time, it would risk the annihilation of his division, but if successful it would ensure that Meade’s army would hold excellent defensive ground.

Buford had a keen eye for terrain and instantly recognized that the area around Gettysburg was favorable ground. He also through the hard work of his troops surmised that Hill’s Third Corps with the divisions of Heth, Anderson and Pender would approach from the west, while Ewell’s Second Corps with the divisions of Rodes, Early and Johnson would come to Gettysburg from the north and east and provided that information to Reynolds and Meade. He again proved his “reputation as an expert gather of intelligence.” As one historian observed “this was cavalry scouting and reporting at their best, a model of precision and accuracy, with fact carefully separated from rumor.” [32]

On the morning of June 30th, Buford detected the Confederate infantry of Pettigrew’s brigade to the west of the town. Buford knew that the battle was to be there and sent word back to John Reynolds, commander of I Corps:

“Have Occupied Gettysburg. Contacted large force of Reb infantry. I think they are coming this way. Expect they will be here in force in the morning.”[33]

Notes

[1] Ibid. The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command p.184

[2] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage. p.69

[3] Nolan, Alan T. R.E. Lee and July 1 at Gettysburg in The First Day at Gettysburg, Gallagher, Gary W. Editor, Kent State University Press, Kent Ohio 1992 p. 20

[4] Korda, Michael. Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2014 p.542

[5] Wert, Jeffry D. General James Longstreet: The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster, New York and London 1993 p.237

[6] Ibid. Wert General James Longstreet p.237

[7] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.551

[8] Ibid. Wert General James Longstreet p.254

[9] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.113

[10] Ibid. Wert General James Longstreet p.237

[11] Ibid Sears. Gettysburg. p.124

[12] Taylor, Walter. General Lee: His campaigns in Virginia 1861-1865 With Personal Reminiscences University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln Nebraska and London, 1994 previously published 1906 p.184

[13] Ibid. Wert General James Longstreet p.255

[14] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.113

[15] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command p.181

[16] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.237

[17] Ibid. Freeman Lee p.320

[18] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two pp.462-463

[19] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p. 463

[20] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.124

[21] Dowdy, Clifford. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg: The Death of a Nation Skyhorse Publishing, New York 1986, originally published as Death of a Nation Knopf, New York 1958 p.49

[22] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.48

[23] Ibid. Freeman Lee p.321

[24] Ibid. Freeman Lee p.321

[25] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.114

[26] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.133

[27] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.114

[28] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command p.195

[29] Ibid. Korda Clouds of Glory p.544

[30] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion pp.115-116

[31] Longacre, Edward G. John Buford: A Military Biography Da Capo Press, Perseus Book Group, Cambridge MA p.185

[32] Ibid. Longacre John Buford p.187

[33] Shaara, Michael. The Killer Angels. Ballantine Books, New York. 1974 p.40

 

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The Road to Gettysburg: Meade Takes Command

general-george-meade

Major General George Gordon Meade

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

For those that have followed my writing for some time you know that I teach military history and ethics at the Joint Forces Staff College. One of the great joys that I have is leading the Gettysburg Staff Ride, which is an optional event for students that want to participate. When I took the position here I took some of my older writings on Gettysburg and put them into a student study guide and text. That was two years ago. Then the text was about 70 pages long. It is now about 870 pages long and eventually I hope to get it published. When and if that happens I expect it to become two, and possibly three books.

This is the second of a series of articles that I will be posting potions of a chapter that I have rewritten about the surprises that various commanders experienced on June 28th 1863. The lessons for today are that war, any war, is the realm of chance, as such, surprises always happen. It is said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, but some plans don’t survive that long. As you read this don’t just look at the events, but look at the people, and their reaction to the surprises that they encountered, for that is where we come to understand history.

So even if you are not a Civil War buff, or even a history buff, take the time to look at the people, their actions, and the things that made them who they were, and influenced what they did. History is about people.

So please enjoy,

Peace

Padre Steve+

About the time that Lee was confidently discussing the campaign with Isaac Trimble Major General George Meade, commander of V Corps the night of June 27th George Meade was simply one of seven Corps Commanders in the Army of the Potomac, but before the night was over he would be its commander on the eve of the most decisive battle of the war in the east.

George Gordon Meade was the son of an American merchant who served as the naval agent for the U.S. government in that country until 1817. Meade was born in Cadiz on December 31st 1815 and grew up in Pennsylvania and Maryland. His father had been ruined financially in Spain when supporting the Spanish government by loaning it over $375,000 in the Peninsular War against Napoleon. Meade’s father remained in Spain to try to recover his lost fortune he sent his wife and children back to the United States where the family lived on the margins of poverty. The money should have been reimbursed to him under the terms of the Treaty of Florida “which obligated the American government to assume any Spanish obligations to American citizens.” However “the U.S. government discovered loopholes that it allowed it to dodge all responsibility to an increasingly bitter and disappointed Richard Meade.” [1] It was a crushing blow to the elder Meade.

Meade’s father returned to the U.S. and the family moved from Philadelphia to Washington D.C. were Richard Meade, “worn down physically and mentally by his struggles” [2] died in 1828 when George was just 12 years old and attending “a boarding-school at Mount Airy, a few miles from Philadelphia, known as the American Classical and Military Lyceum.” [3] It was here that Meade got his first taste of military discipline as the school was modeled after West Point and in addition to their studies the students participated in military drill.

At the Lyceum, Meade was known for being “an amiable boy, full of life, but rather disposed to avoid the rough-and-tumble frolics of youths his age; quick at his lessons, and popular with both teachers and scholars.” [4] The family ran out of money to keep him at the school and he returned to Baltimore where he was enrolled in the Mount Hope School in Baltimore as his mother sought to gain him an appointment at West Point. At Mount Hope he studied Latin, English composition and mathematics. A certificate from the headmaster of the school obtained by his mother discussed Meade’s academic acumen.

“The knowledge he has gained…is far greater than is usually acquired by young men of his age in a single year. He possesses an uncommon quickness of perception and is, therefore, capable of acquiring knowledge with great rapidity….” [5]

Meade entered West Point in 1831 when he was just sixteen years old after being nominated by Andrew Jackson. The financial condition of his family was mostly responsible for this as “West Point was the one place where the young Meade could obtain a free college education.” [6] At West Point Meade did not excel in his studies and due to “his lack of attention to details of dress and equipment and apparent disinterest in drill, demerits began to pile up in his third year.” [7] While he graduated in the top half of his class his performance in some subjects such as military engineering gave no indication of how he would excel later in life. He graduated nineteenth of fifty-six in the class of 1835.

Unlike many classes which were crowded with men destined for greatness, there were few notables in this class. Other than Meade there was Lincoln’s Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, Brigadier General Herman Haupt, who directed the transportation system of the Union army in the East during the war and John Pemberton, who as a Confederate general would surrender Vicksburg to Grant as Meade was defeating Lee.

Meade was commissioned as a Brevet Second Lieutenant and assigned to the artillery. He spent most of that year in Florida where he was sick and assigned less demanding duties. He resigned his commission after serving his one year obligation and entered civilian life as a topographic engineer. Such was not an unusual occurrence in the tiny army of that era, as “over the previous two years more than a hundred West Point graduates had left the army.[8]

He found civilian employment with the Bureau of Topographical Engineers and over the next five years took part in surveying the Texas-Louisiana boundary line, followed by an assignment on the Mississippi River Delta. He finally worked on the survey of the Canadian-United States boundary, an area of perpetual dispute from the time of American independence.

It was during his time of civilian work with the Bureau that he met and married his wife Margaret Sergeant Wise, the daughter of Congressman John Sergeant, who had been the running mate of Henry Clay in the 1832 presidential election. The young woman was well educated and “developed a wide range of cultural interests including facility in four languages and proficiency at the piano.” [9] They had had seven children together, three sons and four daughters and through much of his career was forced to raise the children alone. Despite this, the marriage appeared to be happy and would last until his death in 1872.

In 1842 Congress passed a measure which limited topographic survey to officers of the Topographic Engineer Corps. For Meade this was a godsend, for with the assistance of Margaret’s brother-in-law Congressman Henry A. Wise of Virginia Meade was reappointed as a Second Lieutenant in the Topographic Engineers on May 19th 1842. He had lost nearly six years of seniority, but “he had fairly earned his rank of Second Lieutenant of Topographic Engineers.” [10] His first assignments included surveying the Aroostook River in Maine and the design and construction of a lighthouse for Brandywine Shoals, Delaware.

In 1845 with a war with Mexico looming due to the annexation of Texas, Lieutenant Meade reported to the headquarters of General Zachary Taylor in Corpus Christi. Here he conducted surveys of the Nueces River and other inland waterways. Meade accompanied Taylor to the disputed border area around between the Nueces and the Rio Grande where some of the first actions of the war took place in 1846. During the war he served in Mexico “principally with Taylor’s army, where he won a brevet for gallantry at Monterrey.” [11] During his time in Texas and Mexico Meade became disgusted with the political machinations that surrounded the war and in a letter home he wrote “the mighty engine of influence, that curse of our country, which forces party politics into everything.” [12]

Meade was transferred to the army of Winfield Scott where he was no longer the senior Topographic Engineer but the junior. He chafed at his inactivity with Scott and complained about it. Major Turnbull, the senior Topographic Engineer told Scott that Meade was “Meade was unexpectedly with the army and that he had quite enough officers without him.” [13] In light of this Scott sent Meade back, where he returned to building lighthouses missing the bulk of the campaign. That assignment was cut short in 1849 when Meade was ordered to Florida “amid an outbreak of violence by the Seminoles.” [14] In Florida he survey a line of forts and upon completion returned to lighthouse work at Brandywine Shoals and then in Key Largo.

When the Army established the Lighthouse Board, Meade was appointed t the Seventh District where he continued his work in Florida. Among the lighthouses that he built was the Sand Key lighthouse at Key West which stands to this day. Meade was still just a First Lieutenant but he was rising in terms of the work that he was doing and was “promoted to superintendent of the Seventh Lighthouse District.” [15] He took over the Fourth District as well when its superintendent was transferred to the West Coast. In this work Meade prospered. The most impressive monument to Meade’s work is the 163 foot tall Barnegat Bay Light in New Jersey. Meade was justifiably proud of his accomplishments and after the war noted that “I have always thought my services in the construction of lighthouses, and subsequently on the Lake Survey were of considerable importance.” [16]

In 1856 Meade was promoted to Captain and given charge over the vast Great Lakes survey. In Meade’s words he work involved:

“the delineation of the shores, and bottom of the lakes, bringing to light the hidden dangers; obtaining the evidence and capacity and depth of water in all the harbors and rivers and consequently the most practical mode of improving them; furnishing the evidence of the wants of navigation in reference to lighthouses, beacons and buoys and the proper sites for same.” [17]

Meade had to lobby Congress for funding and expanded the number of officers and personnel involved until by 1860 he had ten teams, some working on land and some aboard ships with a budget which he expanded from $25,000 to $75,000 in three years. It was a remarkable job, but then Meade had matured as an officer and as a leader.

Meade was still involved with this mission when Fort Sumter was attacked. To the consternation of local leaders in Detroit, he and his officers refused to be part of a mass meeting where the locals were insisting the Federal officers publically renew their oaths. This decision was part of Meade’s innate conservatism. Meade felt that doing so without the order of the War Department was not within his prevue.

Meade was not a firebrand, conservative and logical thought that the best course would for both sides to step back and catch their breath. He was “dismayed at the arrogance of the fire-eaters, to whom Southern secession seemed like a simple riot which would be suppressed by the mere appearance of Federal troops.” [18] The decision angered Senator Zach Chandler who had organized the event and Chandler would remain an opponent of Meade throughout the war.

He had never been a political officer and was determined to avoid becoming one, he wrote “as a soldier, holding a commission, it has always been my judgement that duty required that I should disregard all political questions, and obey orders.” [19] Thus he avoided some of the more overtly political displays in Michigan but wrote:

“I have ever held it to be my duty…to uphold and maintain the Constitution and resist the disruption of this Government. With this opinion I hold the other side responsible for this existing condition of affairs.” [20]

He was viewed with suspicion by Radical Republicans as “another politically unreliable McClellan Democrat” and William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator noted that his look “reveals a character that never yet efficiently and consistently served a liberal cause.” [21]

He immediately volunteered for field duty, but it his request was not answered due to resistance in the Corps of Topographic Engineers. It was not until after the debacle at Bull Run when he would be appointed a Brigadier General of Volunteers, even as he was preparing to resign his commission to take command of a Michigan Regiment.

Meade was appointed to command a brigade of the Pennsylvania Reserves and saw much action at the head of his brigade on the Peninsula, serving alongside his friend John Reynolds who commanded another brigade in the division. Meade exhibited a coolness under fire that earned the respect of his soldiers and officers. His fearless nature had “resulted in his being wounded twice by bullets almost simultaneously at the Battle of Glendale on the Peninsula” [22] and incurring other wounds and close calls at South Mountain, Antietam and Fredericksburg.

In September 1862 he was promoted to command the division and after Fredericksburg he was promoted to command Fifth Corps. His promotions “from brigade commander in the Pennsylvania Reserve Division to corps command had been earned on battlefields.” [23] Serving in almost all of the army’s campaigns in the East Meade “gained increasing distinction as a highly competent and skillful officer. At Fredericksburg his division was the only unit to achieve any kind of success in a battle that otherwise was known as the worst fiasco in the history of the Army of the Potomac.” [24]

Like many of the commanders at Gettysburg Meade’s personality, temperament and character were complex, leading to people who met him or served with him to different conclusions. He possessed little flair for the dramatic or the theatrical. He was quietly religious and modest and “he usually kept aloof and made no effort to make himself popular” especially with reporters and “they exacted a toll for this treatment, and as a result Meade’s reputation suffered from a poor press.” [25]

He did not fit the stereotype of a commanding general of an army, he possessed none of McClellan’s style, Hooker’s dash or Reynold’s handsomeness. Some of his critics in the ranks referred to him as “a damned old goggle-eyed snapping turtle” while others called him “Old Four Eye” based on the glasses that he wore.[26] Meade handled such comments well for he had few delusions about himself, he remarked to an officer “I know they call me a damned old snapping turtle.” [27] As for his physical appearance a reporter noted that Meade “is colorless, being of a ghostly pale,” and “his nose of the antique bend.” [28] Another noted that he looked more like “a learned pundit than a soldier” [29] while his attire did not help, an aide noted “as for clothes, General Meade was nowhere.” Another officer remarked, “it would be rather hard to make him look well dressed.” [30]

Meade was sharp minded and quick tempered, “irritable and touchy in camp, possessed of a famous temper and imperfect means of controlling it.” [31] His temper was rooted in his sense of perfectionism and truthfulness. Theodore Lyman wrote that “I never saw a man in my life who was so characterized by straightforward truthfulness as he is.” [32] But Meade’s often volcanic temper and abject truthfulness were that of a logical man who could not abide “stupidity, negligence or laziness.” [33] Lyman observed “I don’t know any thin old gentleman, with a hooked nose and cold blue eye, who, when he is wrathy, exercises less of Christian charity than my well-beloved Chief!” [34]

Unlike some leaders whose temper led them to make unwise decisions with the lives of their troops, “in matters involving the safety of the army or the lives of thousands of men he exercised self-control and showed great moral courage in his decisions.” [35] At the same time he was a man who if after an angry outburst was full of regret, and as introspective as he was had “a cordial desire, if he had been wrong to make amends.” [36]

He was a man who in the war did not lose his humanity either towards the soldiers that he commanded or the victims of war. He was moved to acts of compassion when he saw suffering women and children whose lives had been upended by war. During the campaign of 1864 Meade:

“happened upon a poorly dressed woman fringed by several crying children – a family which the cavalry had robbed – he pulled out a five-dollar bill and also saw that food was provided for the day’s neediest. “The soft-hearted General…though of his own small children,” Colonel Lyman reflected. “He is a tender hearted man.” [37]

It was this complex man, a modest, conservative perfectionist, prone to volcanic eruptions of temper, but possessing of a strong sense of honesty even in regard to himself, who in the early morning hours of June 28th 1863 would have the fate of the Union thrust upon his shoulders.

“I Bring You Trouble” Meade Takes Command

As Trimble left and Lee settled in for the night, Meade, Commander of V Corps, was at his new headquarters located at Robert McGill’s farm outside of Frederick. Meade was asleep in his tent, was unaware that Colonel James A. Hardie, Halleck’s Assistant Adjutant General, was on a train from Washington with orders that would change the course of the war. Hardie arrived in Fredericksburg after midnight and instead of remaining for the night rented a carriage and made his way directly to Meade’s headquarters, bearing in his hand “General Orders 194…relieving General Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac and appointing General Meade in his place.” [38]

Meade, though he desired the appointment as commander of the Army did not expect it. Meade, a career soldier “possessed ambition but had never allowed it to consume him as Joseph Hooker had.” [39] Meade believed that if Hooker was relieved of command that John Reynolds of First Corps or another would receive it. Meade was outranked by his fellow Corps commanders Reynolds and John Sedgwick of VI Corps, and he felt that Reynolds was the ideal man to command the army.

Meade wrote to his wife the reasons he believed that he would not get command a few days before: “because I have no friends, political or others, who press or advance my claims or pretentions.” [40] The latter was not because Meade did not have friends, but because unlike Hooker, Sickles and so many others he stayed out of the various political cabals in the army and their constant intrigues. Meade, though on bad terms with Hooker was not one of the Generals who conspired against Hooker in the weeks following Chancellorsville. He told Governor Andrew Curtain of Pennsylvania that “I should be very sorry to see him removed, unless a decidedly better man is substituted.” [41]

On June 25th Meade had written his wife Margaret, who was uneasy with the rumors that her husband might be named head of the army. Earlier in the month when it was rumored that he might be offered command she “reacted to the news with vigor and urgency: “Do not accept it!” She was convinced that it would ruin his career.” [42] Reiterating his belief that he did not have the necessary political connections, and that there were others at least as competent or more to lead the army, he wrote:

“For these reasons I have never indulged in any dreams of ambition, contented to await events, and do my duty in the sphere it pleases God to place me in…and I really think that it would be well for you to take the same philosophical view; but do you know, I think your ambition is being roused and that you are beginning to be bitten with the dazzling prospect of having for a husband a commanding general of an army. How is this?” [43]

At 3:00 A.M. Hardie arrived. “Led to Meade’s tent, Hardie greeted the suddenly awakened general by saying he brought “trouble.” [44] Meade wrote his wife:

“At 3:00 A.M. I was roused from my sleep by an officer from Washington entering my tent…and after waking me up, saying he had come to give me trouble. At first I thought that it was to either relieve or arrest me, and promptly replied to him, that my conscience was clear, void of offense towards any man; I was prepared for his bad news. He then handed me a communication to read: which I found was an order relieving Hooker from the command and assigning me to it.” [45]

Meade was “given a brief order from Lincoln assigning him the high command, and a detailed message outlining his course. The army was to cover Washington and Baltimore; Harpers Ferry and its garrison would come under Meade’s own jurisdiction, etc.” and Halleck noted that “the transfer was being made at a critical time.” [46]

Meade agitatedly stated his objections to Hardie, again reiterating his belief that Reynolds should command the army but Hardie explained that the decision had been made and that Meade had no choice but to obey his orders or resign. Hardie provided Meade a letter from Halleck which said “Considering the circumstances…no one ever received a more important command; and I cannot doubt that you will firmly justify the confidence that the Government has reposed in you.” [47]

The order gave Meade command of the troops at Harper’s Ferry which had been denied to Hooker just days before. It also gave him freedom of command. It read: “You will not be hampered by any minute instructions from these headquarters” and “you are free to act as you deem proper under the circumstances as they arise.” [48] Likewise Meade was authorized to take command General Couch’s forces along the Susquehanna. A further power given to Meade which had not been given to previous commanders of the Army of the Potomac was the authority to relieve from command and dismiss officers from the army, or appoint to command officers regardless of seniority as he saw fit. It was a power that during the tumult of battle that he would use well in the coming days.

Meade went by horseback with Hardie and his son Captain George Meade to Hooker’s headquarters at Prospect Hall.

The previous night Hooker, who after hearing nothing after Halleck’s terse response to his request to be relieved “had convinced himself that the ensuing silence meant that he had beaten Halleck.” [49] But now, Hooker, aware that Hardie was in the camp, correctly assumed that he was through as the commander of the Army of the Potomac. Hooker greeted his visitors in his full dress uniform and with “much effort he tried to hide his feelings and by extreme courtesy to relieve the situation of embarrassment.” [50]

Meade had not seen Hooker in two weeks and had no idea how scattered the army was. When Hooker and Dan Butterfield his Chief of Staff briefed Meade, and Meade learned of the army’s disposition he “unguardedly expressed himself.” Hooker “retorted with feeling.[51] There was also disagreement on what the two generals believed Lee’s intentions were regarding crossing the Susquehanna. Hooker insisted that since Lee had no bridging equipment that he would not cross the river or threaten Harrisburg. Instead Hooker believed that Lee would proceed down the right bank of the river towards Baltimore and Washington. Meade disagreed that “the enemy would not attempt to cross at low water. In point of fact, Lee had already issued orders to move,” [52] while Dick Ewell was already preparing for a river crossing and assault on the weakly held Pennsylvania Capital.

Despite the uncomfortableness of the situation Hooker and Meade were able to successfully pass command of the army and Hooker issued General Order 66 in which “he praised his successor and asked the army to extend the hearty support it had given him. He added:

“Impressed with the ability that my usefulness as the commander of the Army of the Potomac is impaired I part from it; yet not without the deepest emotion.

The sorrow of parting with comrades of so many battles is relieved by the conviction that the courage and devotion of this army will never cease to fail.” [53]

Meade’s words in his General Order 67 are indicative of his feelings on assuming command of the army:

“By direction of the President of the United States, I hereby assume command of the Army of the Potomac…. As a soldier obeying this order- an order totally unexpected and unsolicited- I have no promises to make.”

‘The country looks to this army to relieve it from the devastation and disgrace of a foreign invasion. Whatever fatigues and sacrifices we may be called to undergo, let us have in view, constantly the magnitude of the interests involved, and let each man determine to do his duty, leaving to an all-controlling Providence the decision of the contest.

“It is with great diffidence that I relieve in the command of this army an eminent and accomplished soldier, whose name must appear conspicuous in the history of its achievements; but I rely on the hearty support of my companions in arms to assist me in the discharge of the duties of the important trust which has been confided to me.” [54]

That afternoon Meade sent a note to Halleck telling him he had received “the order placing me in command of this army” and that “as a soldier, I obey it.” [55] When Lincoln saw the letter which also outlined Meade’s initial plans to give battle, he was overheard to say “I tell you I think a lot of that fine fellow Meade.” [56]

Reynolds was among the first corps commanders to pay his respects to Meade, and Meade “grabbed him by the arm and earnestly told him he wished Reynolds had received the assignment. Reynolds replied that Meade was the right choice and that he would do whatever was necessary to support him.” [57] John Gibbon greeted Meade’s appointment “with a sigh of relief” and Reynold’s artillery commander wrote “For my part, I think that we have got the best man of the two, much as I think of Reynolds….” [58]

Meade had good reason to wish that Reynolds or another had been appointed and certainly welcomed his friend Reynolds’ support. Meade knew that he was not Lincoln’s first choice for the job, partly because of being associated with George McClellan, as well as his own political ties as a Democrat, and the opposition of leading Republicans to his appointment to any command. He had run afoul of the Northern abolitionist “fire eaters” in Detroit when Fort Sumter was fired on, and was distrustful of politicians and politically inclined soldiers.

The new commander of the army was fully aware ware of the fate of other officers who had a similar political bent. One of these officers, Fitz-John Porter, his predecessor at V Corps, was “court-martialed, cashiered and disgraced” [59] after being falsely accused of “disobedience of orders during the Second Battle of Bull Run” [60] by John Pope who had brought about that disaster.

With that in mind Meade understood the political danger that his appointment entailed:

“If he was successful in protecting Washington and Baltimore or if he somehow defeated Lee and drove the Confederates back across the Potomac, he would receive precious little credit from the Lincoln administration; if he failed, even for the most plainly military reasons, he expected to be pilloried without mercy as a halfheart and traitor.” [61]

The appointment of Meade was met with relief by most of his fellow Corps commanders. He was respected by them, despite having “a cold, even irascible, edge to him, particularly when occupied with army business. He was demanding of himself and of aids and subordinates,” [62] but what mattered to them was that Meade “was a thorough soldier, and a “mighty clear headed man”, with “extraordinary courage.” [63] A future staff officer noted that Meade “will pitch himself in a moment, if he thinks he has done wrong; and woe to those, no matter who they are, who do not do right.” [64]

He was viewed as a truthful, honest and caring commander who after a blow- up would do what he could to reconcile. He was passionate about the lives of his troops and whenever possible avoided battles that he believed their sacrifice would be in vain. He knew his trade, paid close attention to detail and knew and understood his troops and commanders. He had earned respect throughout his career and during the battles on the Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville proved that he was an excellent leader and commander of troops.

All that being said Meade was virtually “an unknown quantity outside of his corps.” [65] Many in the rank and file wondered about the change of commanders in the middle of the campaign, “What’s Meade ever done?” was a common response among the men- those outside his corps at least- when they heard that he was their new commander. The general himself had few delusions on this score. “I know they call me a damned old snapping turtle….” [66] These soldiers had seen good and bad commanders and seen how Washington had dealt with each one, but by now “their training in the school of hard knocks under fumbling leaders had toughened the soldiers to a flinty self-reliance that left many indifferent to the identity of their commander. [67] On the eve of battle they had a new commanding general and “they were almost within rifleshot of a supremely aggressive enemy…whatever happened during the next week, the one certainty was now that the soldiers themselves would run this next battle. The most that could be expected of Meade was that he would make no ruinous mistakes.” [68] It not only was an army with a new leader, but in its soul, the Army of the Potomac was a different army than Lee had ever faced.

Meade had an immense task to accomplish. When he went to bed on the night of the 27th as commander of V Corps he was unaware of the locations of the bulk of the Federal Army and knew that Lee was already deep in Pennsylvania. Now, Meade was determined to bring Lee to battle, but was cautious as he did not want to take a chance of his forces being split up and defeated in detail, which in fact was what Lee hoped to do to the Army of the Potomac.

With his assumption of command Meade had to make some organizational changes. Against the advice of some Meade kept General Daniel Butterfield as his Chief of Staff despite his personal aversion for him and for Butterfield’s close association with Hooker and his political cabal. He appointed Major General George Sykes to command his old V Corps and wired Halleck with an “unheard of request: to promote in one jump three brilliant young officers from the rank of captain to that of brigadier general. They were Elon J. Farnsworth of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, George A Custer of the 5th United States Cavalry and Wesley Merritt of the 2nd United States Cavalry.” [69] Each was appointed to command brigades in Pleasanton’s Cavalry Corps which was being reorganized that day.

Meade had another great advantage over Lee in in his access to information and intelligence. Colonel George Sharpe of the Bureau of Military Information had provided him with the information that “the enemy force does not exceed 80,000 men and 275 guns,” as well as “a remarkably accurate outline of Lee’s movements.” [70] The information allowed Meade to begin his pursuit of Lee in earnest the following morning.

One thing that Meade understood was that if he was to defeat Lee he had to concentrate his combat power, he could not allow Lee’s forces to engage elements of the army and defeat them in detail. All too often Federal forces had not concentrated or taken advantage of their superiority in men and artillery. Meade wired Halleck that he would “move toward the Susquehanna keeping Baltimore and Washington well covered, and if the enemy is checked in his attempt to cross the Susquehanna or if he turns toward Baltimore, to give him battle.” [71] Meade wrote discussed his intent, noting, “my object being at all hazards to compel him to loose his hold on the Susquehanna and to meet me in battle at some point. It was my firm determination…to give battle wherever and as soon as I could possibly find the enemy.” [72]

Wisely, Meade also prepared a fallback position along Pipe Creek on the Pennsylvania-Maryland border. Knowing that it was possible that a corps could become isolated and face superior forces Meade gave his Corps commanders permission to withdraw back to the Pipe Creek line if they felt threatened by a larger Confederate force.

With his orders given and preparations underway, Meade’s Army of the Potomac began to march north on the morning of June 29th into Pennsylvania where it was fated to do battle with its old nemesis, the Army of Northern Virginia.

Notes

[1] Huntington, Tom Searching for George Gordon Meade: The Forgotten Victor of Gettysburg Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg PA 2013 p.12

[2] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.12

[3] Meade, George edited by George Gordon Meade The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major General United States Army Volume I Big Byte Books Amazon Kindle Edition 2014 originally published 1913 location 185 of 7307

[4] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.12

[5] Cleaves, Freeman Meade of Gettysburg University of Oklahoma Press, Norman and London 1960 p.10

[6] Sears, Stephen W. Gettysburg. Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston and New York 2003 p.85

[7] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.11

[8] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.13

[9] Wilson Robert and Clair, Carl They Also Served: Wives of Civil War Generals Xlibris Corporation 2006 p.27

[10] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.18

[11] Pfanz Harry W. Gettysburg: The First Day University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London 2001 p.43

[12] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.29

[13] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.43

[14] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.31

[15] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.49

[16] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.32

[17] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.50

[18] Ibid. Catton The Army of the Potomac: Glory Roadp.257

[19] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.39

[20] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.52

[21] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.88

[22] Tagg, Larry The Generals of Gettysburg: The Leaders of America’s Greatest Battle Da Capo Press Cambridge MA 1998 Amazon Kindle Edition p.2

[23] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.267

[24] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign pp.213-214

[25] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.213

[26] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.87

[27] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.454

[28] Wert, Jeffry D. The Sword of Lincoln: The Army of the Potomac Simon and Schuster, New York and London 2005 p.268

[29] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.454

[30] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.268

[31] Ibid. Catton The Army of the Potomac: Glory Roadp.257

[32] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.211

[33] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.211

[34] Ibid Sears. Gettysburg. Pp.125-126

[35] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.211

[36] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.212

[37] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.247

[38] Ibid Sears. Gettysburg. p.123

[39] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.267

[40] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.446

[41] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.145

[42] Ibid. Wilson and Clair They Also Served p.28

[43] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.147

[44] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.266

[45] Trudeau, Noah Andre. Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage Harper Collins, New York, 2003. p.102

[46] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.125

[47] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.148

[48] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.451

[49] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.89

[50] Hebert, Walter H. Fighting Joe Hooker University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London 1999. Originally published by Bobbs-Merrill, New York 1944 p. 246

[51] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.149

[52] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.125

[53] Ibid. Hebert Fighting Joe Hooker p.246

[54] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.150

[55] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.89

[56] Ibid. Cleaves Meade of Gettysburg p.126

[57] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.149

[58] Ibid. Huntington Searching for George Gordon Meade p.150

[59] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.90

[60] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.185

[61] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.90

[62] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.267

[63] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.268

[64] Ibid. Wert The Sword of Lincoln p.267

[65] McPherson, James. The Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York 1988 p.652

[66] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.454

[67] Ibid. McPherson The Battle Cry of Freedom p.652

[68] Ibid. Catton The Army of the Potomac p.259

[69] Ibid. Coddington p.220

[70] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage p.106

[71] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command pp. 219-220

[72] Ibid. Trudeau Gettysburg, A Testing of Courage p.112

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The Road to Gettysburg: An Army Confident But Blind

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Lee Confers with his Commanders en-route to Gettysburg 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

For those that have followed my writing for some time you know that I teach military history and ethics at the Joint Forces Staff College. One of the great joys that I have is leading the Gettysburg Staff Ride, which is an optional event for students that want to participate. When I took the position here I took some of my older writings on Gettysburg and put them into a student study guide and text. That was two years ago. Then the text was about 70 pages long. It is now about 870 pages long and eventually I hope to get it published. When and if that happens I expect it to become two, and possibly three books.

Over the next few days I will be posting potions of a chapter that I have rewritten about the surprises that various commanders experienced on June 28th 1863. The lessons for today are that war, any war, is the realm of chance, as such, surprises always happen. It is said that no plan survives first contact with the enemy, but some plans don’t survive that long. As you read this don’t just look at the events, but look at the people, and their reaction to the surprises that they encountered, for that is where we come to understand history.

So even if you are not a Civil War buff, or even a history buff, take the time to look at the people, their actions, and the things that made them who they were, and influenced what they did. History is about people.

So please enjoy,

Peace

Padre Steve+

If you were an ordinary soldier in either the Army of the Potomac or Army of Northern Virginia June 28th 1863 would not have been much different than any of the previous days. In fact the day was relatively “uneventful for men in the ranks.” [1] By now, both armies had been on the march for over three weeks, the soldiers enduring blazing summer heat, as well as torrential rains as the moved north. While there had been cavalry clashes at Brandy Station and along the Blue Ridge, and Ewell had successfully overrun and Milroy’s command at Winchester, the vast bulk of the men in either army had yet to engage in combat.

By the evening of June 27th both the Confederate and Union armies were across the Potomac. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia was now mostly in Pennsylvania. Dick Ewell’s Second Corps was preparing to attack Harrisburg, A.P. Hill’s Third Corps was near Cashtown and James Longstreet’s First Corps was gathering in the vicinity of Chambersburg.

As the Confederate troops advanced into Pennsylvania morale was high, one soldier wrote “Never did soldiers appear more buoyant and cheerful than Lee’s army.” [2] Dorsey Pender commanding a division in Hill’s Third Corps wrote his wife “I never saw troops march as ours do; they will go 15 or 20 miles a day without leaving a straggler and hoop and yell on occasions.” [3]

Unit Quartermasters, acting under Lee’s orders to forage “scoured the countryside in search of foodstuffs, livestock and anything usable.” [4] That bounty was considerable, and “included twenty-six thousand cattle and twenty-thousand sheep” [5] which were promptly driven back to Virginia. In addition to “officially” sanctioned foraging soldiers and officers did some of their own. Some of Dick Ewell’s staff took the opportunity to purchase items hard to come by in the South for their families, one bought “china buttons, calico dress patterns, soaps, and spices for his mother and sister.” [6] In spite of Lee’s prohibition of looting many soldiers took the opportunity to plunder, one soldier wrote “We press every thing that we think that will be beneficial to our cause and cuntry.” [7]

With Lee in Pennsylvania the bulk of the Army of the Potomac, still under the command of Joe Hooker was concentrated in the vicinity of Frederick, Maryland. Despite a slow start and his disagreement with Lincoln and Halleck regarding an attack across the Rappahannock into Lee’s rear, Hooker had handled the army skillfully in its pursuit of Lee. One decision that he made early, based on the recommendation of Major General Henry Slocum, commander of XII Corps, was to pre-stage pontoon bridges near the Potomac in case he had to cross that river. So swift was his movement and he had “completed its crossing only twenty-four hours after the last of Lee’s infantry had crossed, and the whole of it was in Maryland before either Stuart or Lee knew that the crossing had even begun.” [8]

The morale of the soldiers of the Army of Northern Virginia was high, and reflected Lee’s own attitude toward the campaign. One officer recalled that “Lee’s army was never in better spirits than in the days leading up to Gettysburg.” [9] Colonel Eppa Hunton of the 8th Virginia recalled that Lee told him that “the invasion of Pennsylvania would be a great success, and if so, it would end the war, or we would have rest for some time to come.” Hunton added, “General Lee was so enthusiastic about the movement that I threw away my doubts and became as enthusiastic as he was.” [10]

Like its commander the Army of Northern Virginia was superbly confident as it marched north. A Virginian observing the army as it marched through Maryland recalled: “The health of the troops was never better and above all the morale of the army was never more favorable for offensive or defensive operations….Victory will inevitably attend our arms in any collision with the enemy.” [11] Another soldier later recalled “no one ever admitted the possibility of defeat across the Potomac.” [12]

Lee was uneasy regarding his lack of knowledge of the location of the Army of the Potomac or Hooker’s intentions, but he was not overly concerned. Though he had not heard anything from J.E.B. Stuart since June 23rd, when Stuart had begun his ride, Lee was still confident in the success of his operation and the prospects of battle. John Bell Hood, Lee’s companion from his days in Texas visited Lee at Chambersburg and “found the commanding general in “buoyant spirits.” Lee told his former Lieutenant “Ah! General, the enemy is a long time in finding us; if he does not succeed soon, we must go in search of him.” [13] On the night of June 27th Lee “still assumed that the mounted forces were doing their full duty and that all was well; but there was uneasiness, almost exasperation, over the failure of the cavalry to send in any information of the enemy’s movements.” [14]

Not knowing the location of the Federal army Lee met with Major General Isaac Trimble on the evening of June 27th at his headquarters near Chambersburg. Though Trimble had been slated to command to division now commanded by Allegheny Johnson, he had been slow to recover from a leg wound incurred in 1862 and could not take command. A supernumerary Major General without a command, Trimble had caught up with the army as it moved north into Maryland. Trimble told Lee that he “could recruit a division of troops from the ranks of his native Marylanders.” [15] as Lee did not want to lose “the services of so hard a fighter as this veteran of all the Second Corps victories from First through Second Manassas.” [16] That being said Trimble soon became a nuisance to Lee and “after just two days Lee sent him on to Ewell.” [17]

However, Trimble recorded the atmosphere in Lee’s headquarters and just how confident Lee appeared in spite of not knowing the location or the intent of the Army of the Potomac:

“Our army is in good spirits, not overly fatigued, and can be concentrated on any point in twenty-four hours or less. I have not yet heard that the enemy have crossed the Potomac, and I am waiting to hear from General Stuart….They will come up, probably through Frederick, broken down with hunger and hard marching….I shall throw up an overwhelming force on their advance, crush it, follow up the success, [and] drive one corps back on another…create a panic and virtually destroy the enemy.” [18]

Trimble noted that he was “stirred” by Lee’s words and that told Lee that he did “not doubt of the outcome of such a confrontation, especially because the moral of the Army of Northern Virginia had never been higher than it was now.” [19] Lee agreed and “as Trimble rose to go, Lee laid his hand on the map and pointed to a little town east of the mountains, Gettysburg by name, from which roads radiated like so many spikes. “Hereabout,” he said, “we shall probably meet the army and fight a great battle, and if God gives us the victory, the war will be over and we shall achieve the recognition of our independence.” [20]

Notes

[1] Coddington, Edwin B. The Gettysburg Campaign, A Study in Command A Touchstone Book, Simon and Shuster New York 1968 p. 180

[2] Wert, Jeffry D. A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph 1862-1863 Simon and Schuster, New York and London 2011 p.229

[3] Robertson, James I. Jr. General A.P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior Random House, New York 1987 p.204

[4] Glatthaar, Joseph T. General Lee’s Army from Victory to Collapse The Free Press, Simon and Schuster, New York and London 2008 p.271

[5] Goldfield, David. America Aflame: How the Civil War Created a Nation Bloomsbury Press, New York 2011 p.284

[6] Pfanz, Donald. Richard S. Ewell: A Soldier’s Life University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill and London 1998 p.298

[7] Ibid. Glatthaar General Lee’s Army from Victory to Collapse p.272

[8] Catton, Bruce The Army of the Potomac: Glory Road Doubleday and Company, Garden City New York, 1952 p.255

[9] Taylor, John M. Duty Faithfully Performed: Robert E Lee and His Critics Brassey’s, Dulles VA 1999 p.139

[10] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.226

[11] Guelzo, Allen C. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion Vintage Books a Division of Random House, New York 2013 p.67

[12] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two Fredericksburg to Meridian Random House, New York 1963 p.455

[13] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.230

[14] Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee’s Lieutenant’s a Study in Command, One volume abridgement by Stephen W Sears, Scribner, New York 1998 p.551

[15] Ibid. Pfanz Richard S. Ewell p.300

[16] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.445

[17] Ibid. Pfanz Richard S. Ewell pp.300-301

[18] Taylor, John M. Duty Faithfully Performed: Robert E Lee and His Critics Brassey’s, Dulles VA 1999 p.140

[19] Ibid. Foote The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two p.446

[20] Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee an abridgment by Richard Harwell, Touchstone Books, New York 1997 p.320

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Vanity Seeking a Legacy: JEB Stuart at Gettysburg

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Back to my work on the Gettysburg text. I have done a lot of edits and work on this chapter. There is a little bit more to do including an edit from my wife Judy before it goes into the text and I start working on the edits for the next chapter. 

Anyway, yet another crazy weather day in Hampton Roads. Yesterday 73 degrees, today rain with sleet and snow later with temperatures tomorrow barely above freezing. I can’t wait for real spring, and by the way I’m issuing a Fat Wahhh on the Groundhog. Not a Fatwah, but a Fat Wahhh, because I’m short stocky and whining. 

Peace

Padre Steve+

While the embattled Hooker slowly pursued Lee with the Army of the Potomac another drama of major significance was unfolding. The developing drama was of Robert E. Lee’s own making and it was beginning to engulf his army’s operations as leave him blind to the intents and movements of the Federal Army, and it is related to the concept of Commander’s Intent.

The concept “Commander’s Intent” is actually quite old and something that even not using today’s terminology that the commanders of the Civil War, especially those educated at West Point would have understood.

While the older understanding enunciated by Frederick the Great, Napoleon, Jomini, Clausewitz and Dennis Hart Mahan would be couched in different language the concept itself was similar. The modern understanding of the concept is found in numerous doctrinal publications of the U.S. Military and the most concise definition in found in Joint Publication 3-0:

“A clear and concise expression of the purpose of the operation and the desired military end state that supports mission command, provides focus to the staff, and helps subordinate and supporting commanders act to achieve the commander’s desired results without further orders, even when the operation does not unfold as planned” [1]

The drama engulfing Lee’s headquarters was the first of a number of operational mistakes committed by Lee, and dealt with his singular inability to get his commanders to understand his intent. The necessity of subordinate commanders understanding the intent of their superior is essential to the success of any military operation. During the Gettysburg campaign, Robert E. Lee failed miserably at this.

The first instance of this lack of clarity and vagueness in regard to Lee’s orders to his subordinates involved Major General J.E.B. Stuart, who commanded Lee’s cavalry division and the results of this would help doom Lee’s campaign in Pennsylvania.

Lee and Stuart

To understand how this happened we need to start with the character of J.E.B. Stuart and his relationship with Robert E. Lee. Without understanding these men it is impossible for us to understand how such a disastrous series of events and miscommunications could occur in an army which was so used to victory.

Before Brandy Station J.E.B. Stuart was at pinnacle of his fame and celebrity. Only thirty-two years old Stuart had gained an amount of fame, and the romantic aura of a chivalrous, bold and daring commander, something akin the gallant knights of an early era. One of his biographers, Burke Davis, whose work about Stuart is at times closer to hagiography than to history called Stuart “The Last Cavalier.” 

If People magazine had been published in 1863, Stuart would have certainly made the cover.

One of Stuart’s officers wrote after the war “There were few men produced by the war whose character was so mixed with gold and dross as Stuart… He could be “brave as his sword,” but “frivolous to the point of ridicule.” [2] Though faithfully married he was a flirt who women swooned over when they met him. “He possessed a zest for life and a flamboyance of style that made him the embodiment of a knight errant, a cavalier warrior from an evocative past.” [3] This is not to say that Stuart was not a gifted offer, leader or commander. Even before the war he was regarded as “a young officer of great promise, a natural horseman with a reputation for dash and bravery gained in countless clashes with Indians throughout the West, and for steady competence in the pro- and antislavery warfare of Kansas.” [4]

In the early part of the war he proved to be a dependable cavalry officer who supplied Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Joseph Johnston and Robert E. Lee with reliable information regarding the composition, movements and intention of their opponents, and who in battle usually bested his Federal opponents.

However, it was his ride around McClellan during the Seven Days that established Stuart as a Confederate hero.

There had been little good news for Confederates during the previous months, but “there was an air of romantic adventure to Stuart’s exploit which touched every Southerner who read it.” [5] Newspapers published accounts which lauded Stuart’s exploit. The Richmond Examiner called it “one of the most brilliant affairs of the war, bold in its inception and the most brilliant in its execution.” [6] A correspondent from the Charleston Mercury wrote “It is a question of whether the annals of warfare furnish so daring a deed.” [7] The result of the ride was fame for Stuart and a new respect for the Confederate cavalry within the Army of Northern Virginia. “Stuart had become the hero of his troopers and one of the idols of the public.” [8]

The fact that Stuart succeeded in large part due to the inability of the Federal Cavalry commander, General Phillip St. George Cooke, Stuart’s father-in-law, to grasp what was happening or respond in an effectual manner did not dim the luster of the accomplishment. One of Stuart’s officers wrote that the newspapers “were filled with accounts of the expedition, none accurate, and most of them marvelous.” [9] The success and adulation that Stuart received in the Confederate press only cemented in Stuart’s mind that such raids would garner him fame and advance his career.

Stuart was not only adept at using the media to advance himself, but he also used his relationships and cultivated those in power to get ahead. He was a friend of the Lee’s before the war, and Robert E. Lee treated Stuart as if he were a son. He had the good fortune to staying with the Lee’s at Arlington and be at the War Department when John Brown seized Harper’s Ferry, where he had won Lee’s admiration. When Joseph Johnston commanded the army Stuart ingratiated himself to him and used flattery to gain favor saying “Johnston is in capacity head and shoulders above every general in the Southern Confederacy.” [10] At the same time he wrote about Lee’s lack of success in Western Virginia “With profound personal regard for General Lee, he has disappointed me as a General.” [11]

When Johnston was wounded Lee was appointed to command the army and Stuart quickly reconnected with Lee and following the success of his ride around McClellan’s army became Lee’s favorite cavalryman. Following the Seven Days battles when the Cavalry was expanded Lee nominated Stuart to command the division and ensured his promotion to Major General. Stuart responded in kind by recommending Lee’s nephew, Fitzhugh Lee to command a brigade in the division. As the division grew Stuart, knowing Lee’s preference for Virginians in the senior ranks of army leadership appointed “Virginians to command four of his division’s five brigades.” [12] These included Fitzhugh Lee as well as Lee’s son Rooney.

Following the Battle of Antietam Stuart made another spectacular ride around McClellan in Maryland and Pennsylvania, an escapade which helped Lincoln in his decision to relieve that ineffective army commander. Apart from the effect on Northern morale the raid accomplished little of military value, including not achieving its primary objective, the destruction of the B & O railway bridge across the Conococheague River. Porter Alexander wrote that “the raid risked a great deal in proportion to the results it accomplished. It might have easily happened easily happened that the whole command might have been captured.” [13]

At Chancellorsville, after Jackson was mortally wounded and A.P. Hill wounded he took command of Second Corps, and led it well enough that some thought that after Jackson’s death that he should be appointed to command the corps.

Despite his brilliance on the battlefield, Stuart had little capacity for self-reflection and was terribly insecure. “Like many people who rise rapidly from obscurity to prominence, Stuart was insecure in his success.” [14]  During a second raid at the end of the Seven Days his actions helped ensure the escape of the Federal Army, something that fellow commanders and staff officers noticed and which he would not admit. In this action, as well as others, Stuart was “known to take risks with his own life and the lives of his men, sometimes during ill-conceived operations of debatable strategic value.” [15]

Likewise Stuart regarded the Battle of Brandy Station as “the greatest triumph I ever had.” [16] Stuart could not understand how the media or fellow officers could see things differently than him. Brandy Station should have given Stuart ample evidence to reevaluate his performance, but he could not. Instead of working to improve his performance, he insisted “that a poor performance had been just perfect. He seemed more concerned with image than substance because he confused the two.” [17]

A Cavalier Seeks to Redeem His Legacy

After the surprise at Brandy Station Stuart, was unhappy. His pride had been wounded by all of the criticism heaped on him by the Confederate press and well as by politicians and officers of the Army of Northern Virginia. Stuart now found out what many others who have who sought the media spotlight; that the press can rapidly turn from being a friend and promoter, to being strident critic. He expressed his anger to his wife Flora in a number of letters. In one saying “The newspapers are false in every statement except as to the victory….The papers ought to apologize.” [18]

The temptation here would to assume that all that motivated Stuart was the desire to redeem himself, to make up for what happened at Brandy Station. This is at least partially true. However, there was something bigger, and that was Stuart’s need that the myth that he had created around himself, the persona he had taken on, was unsullied. Since the war began he had known nothing but success and celebrity. His unbridled success had not taught him how to deal with failure.

One of more recent biographers, Emory Thomas wrote that Stuart “feared failure perhaps more than anything else in life and certainly more than death. He dealt with failure not by dealing with it, by denying it.” [19] As such his actions are much more than seeking to make up for defeat, but an attempt to build a legacy.

The attacks in the newspapers which had previously fawned over his exploits certainly wounded Stuart. But not all papers had completely lost faith in Stuart, nor doubted that he would redeem himself against the hated Yankee cavalry. The Richmond Whig “concluded an editorial defense of the Beau Sabreur, “We shall be surprised if the gallant Stuart does not, before many days, make the enemy repent sorely the temerity that led them to undertake as bold and insulting feat [as the advance on Brandy]. [20]

The troopers of Stuart’s division screened the right flank of the army as it moved north. The mission of his brigades was to defend the gaps in the Blue Ridge, and to keep Pleasanton’s cavalry from interdicting the march, or discovering the location of Lee’s infantry corps. In this effort Stuart was successful, but not happy.

Between June 17th and June 21st Stuart’s troopers fought a series of engagements at Ashby’s Gap, Middleburg and Upperville. While Stuart’s troopers had held off Pleasanton the “running combats were taking a toll on the Southern mounted arm, however. Stuart had already suffered several hundred casualties defending gaps and passes.” [21] The Confederates also noted the improvements in the Federal cavalry during these battles. Captain William Blackford, who served as an engineer on Stuart’s staff noted:

“the improvement of enemy cavalry was enormous, mainly in the heavy fire from long range carbines, and horse artillery that was a match for Stuart’s own These cavalrymen fought as if they had been taken from infantry regiments, for they knew how to fight with horses left behind.” [22]

Unlike the rest of the army which was now marching into Pennsylvania and Maryland, Stuart’s Cavalry Division had little cause to rejoice. They had been surprised at Brandy Station and Stuart had been humiliated in the Southern press. “Stuart read, raged, and doubtlessly resolved that the Whig’s prediction should be fulfilled. First must come opportunity.” [23]

It would take nearly two weeks before Stuart got his chance as the Federal cavalry under Pleasanton gave him no opportunity to redeem himself during the clashes along the Blue Ridge.

While Pleasanton’s troopers never broke through Stuart’s screen, they had pressed him hard and this had a major effect on Stuart’s division, which was “really fought out during those two weeks from June 9 until the misty morning of June 22….Not only had Stuart’s cavalry been pressed on the defensive as never before, but also they had not been able to gain a spot of information about the enemy.” [24]

In effect, these actions had not only screened Lee’s army from Hooker, but what went unnoticed by Confederate commanders was that “this succession of fights screened the Army of the Potomac as well” leaving Stuart “somewhat in the dark as to the location and intent of the Federal infantry.” [25] This would have exceptionally dire consequences for Lee as Stuart was no longer supplying him with the thing he needed most, information on the location and intentions of the Army of the Potomac.

On the other hand the Federal cavalry, through its interrogations of prisoners and conversations with civilians had now learned that the “main body of the rebel infantry is in the Shenandoah Valley.” [26] Additionally at Ashby’s Gap, some of John Buford’s troopers had gotten past the Confederates and “peering into the valley beyond, they gazed upon a Confederate infantry encampment – tangible evidence at last of Lee’s progress toward Maryland and Pennsylvania.” [27]

Pleasanton’s troopers, under able commanders like John Buford had proved that the days of “easy Confederate cavalry triumphs were gone,” [28] and Stuart “smarting over the cuts to his ego, refused to read the portents.” [29]

The emotional state of Stuart in the wake of Brandy station had much to do with this condition, but where others, including his media critics could see the improvements in the Federal Cavalry arm, Stuart seemed to live with a fair amount of denial regarding the capabilities of his foe. Stuart still not believe that the Union Cavalry arm had reached a point in the war where they could take on his troopers and be successful, despite the mounting evidence.

Stuart had been fighting defensively the entire campaign beginning with the surprise at Brandy Station, but desperately wanted to go on the offensive. As his troops battled Pleasanton’s aggressive and well led troopers at Aldie, Middleburg and Upperville, Stuart formulated a plan to go on the offensive himself, which he submitted to Lee. Stuart reasoned now that “all the infantry were west of the Blue Ridge…that it would be possible to leave one or two brigades of cavalry to defend the gaps and with the remaining three to descend on the enemy and harass Hooker in any advance into Pennsylvania.” [30]

Conditional, Contradictory and Vague: Lee’s Order to Stuart

On the morning of the 22nd of June Stuart noticed that the Federal cavalry which had engaged him at Upperville the previous day was no longer present. This led Stuart to propose an operation to Lee. It was an operation that Stuart hoped would restore his glory, for he had to protect his legend at any cost, and he was extremely sensitive about what people thought, wrote and said about him. “he had cultivated his public image and in turn the poems, songs, and praise seemed to confirm his vision of himself. How could the newspapers and gossips be son wrong?” [31] As such when he found an opportunity he took it. In his after action report he said:

 

“I submitted to the commanding general the plan of leaving a brigade or so in my present front, passing through Hopewell or some other gap in the Bull Run Mountains, attain the enemy’s rear, passing between his main body and Washington, and cross into Md., joining our army north of the Potomac. The commanding general wrote authorizing this move, if I thought it practicable….” [32]

Lee’s reply via the order that Stuart received from Lee was the first of a series of vague, poorly written and contradictory orders by Lee that were to plague the campaign. It was an order that gave Stuart exactly what needed to embark on an expedition to regain his luster.

The order “offered his cavalry commander wide latitude to select his route in accord with circumstances.” [33] Lee’s order left “the decision to Stuart” [34] as to how he would execute it. It was also an order that gave Stuart the idea “that something better than the drudgery of a march along our flank might be open to him, and that one of General Stuart’s activity and gallantry should not be expected to fail to seek it.” [35]

It was an order that Stuart seized upon to regain his reputation.

Unlike Lee’s two new infantry corps commanders, Ewell and Hill, Stuart was very familiar with Robert E. Lee’s method of command, and Lee had “so much faith in Stuart’s judgment and ability to make the right moves that after indicating his wishes he gave him considerable latitude in carrying them out. His orders were more suggestions than commands….” [36] However well that may have worked for Lee in the past with Jackson and Stuart, at this time it failed Lee.

Lee’s orders to Stuart were conditional in nature, in other words they were operative as long as the conditions allowed. Since they were conditional orders, Lee needed to clearly address “the conditions upon which they are based.” [37] This Lee did not do and it was a critical oversight. His order to Stuart read:

 

“I judge the efforts of the enemy yesterday were to arrest our progress and ascertain our whereabouts. Perhaps he is satisfied. Do you know where he is and what he is doing? I fear he will steal a march on us and get across the Potomac before we are aware. If you find that he is moving northward and that two brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your rear, you can move with the other three into Maryland and take position on General 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….” [38]

Longstreet, who Stuart was cooperating with on the northward march, added his own comments to Lee’s instruction which even further clouded the order:
General Lee has enclosed this letter for you, to be forwarded to you, provided you can be spared from my front, and provided I think that you can move across the Potomac without disclosing our plans. He speaks of your leaving via the Hopewell Gap and passing by the rear of the enemy. If you can get through by that route I think that you will be less likely to indicate what our plans are than if you should be passing to our rear. I forward the letter of instructions with these suggestions. Please advise me of the condition of affairs before you leave, and order General Hampton, whom I suppose will leave here in command, to report to me at Millwood, either by letter or in person, as may be most agreeable to him.” [39] 

Stung by the criticism of his conduct of the Battle of Brandy Station in the Southern press and frustrated by Pleasanton’s constant thrusts Stuart, “who always interpreted cavalry orders to their outer limits” [40] did just that and interpreted them in a manner that appealed to his need to redeem his now tarnished reputation. Stuart believed that he would repeat his triumph of the previous year when he rode around the Army of the Potomac.

For Stuart this was a chance to regain the limelight and add to his luster. Stuart “summed up his interpretation of his orders when he said later: …it was deemed practicable to move entirely in the enemy’s rear, intercepting his communications with his base (Washington), and, inflicting damage upon his rear, to rejoin the army in Pennsylvania in time to participate in its actual conflicts.” [41]

Stuart was already planning his offensive which he believed would restore his glory. Days before Stuart had sent Major John Mosby with a small detachment of troopers to reconnoiter behind the Union lines. Mosby reported the location of all the infantry corps of the Army of the Potomac. Mosby reported to Stuart on June 23rd that the Federal corps of the Army of the Potomac were stationary and “were so widely separated…that a column of cavalry could easily get between them.” [42]

Mosby’s report painted a glowing picture of how an operation using the Hopewell Gap could create havoc in the Federal rear and cause panic in Washington as he could “severe communications between Hooker and Pleasanton, destroy a “large portion” of Hooker’s transportation, and take some of the pressure off Lee by creating a diversion for the Union cavalry.” [43]

The purported inactivity of the Federal army reported by Mosby was exactly the news Stuart wanted to hear, and he asked Lee for permission to plunge into the Federal rear. In his after action report Stuart wrote:

“I submitted to the commanding general the plan of leaving a brigade or so in my present front, and passing through Hopewell, or some other gap in Bull Run Mountain, attaining the enemy’s rear, and passing between his main body and Washington, to cross into Maryland and joining our army north of the Potomac.” [44]

Lee concurred and noted that “Upon the suggestion of the former officer (General Stuart) that he could damage the enemy and delay his passage of the river by getting to his rear, he was authorized to do so.” [45]

In his after action report of the campaign Lee wrote:

 

“General Stuart was left to guard the passes of the mountains and observe the movements of the enemy, whom he was instructed to impede and harass as much as possible, should he attempt to cross the Potomac. In that event, General Stuart was directed to move into Maryland, crossing the Potomac east or west of the Blue Ridge, as, in his judgment, should be best, and take position on the right of our column as it advanced.” [46]

That night, during a heavy rainstorm Stuart’s chief of staff Major McClellan received Lee’s reply, written by Colonel Charles Marshall, to his superior’s request which he immediately delivered to Stuart. It is this final order which forms the basis of the great controversy of Stuart’s actions during the campaign. Lee’s order stated:
“If General Hooker’s army remains inactive, you can leave two brigades to watch him, and withdraw with three others, but should he not appear to be moving northward, I think you had better withdraw this side of the mountains tomorrow night, cross as Shepherdstown next day, and move over to Frederickstown.

You will, however, be able to judge whether you can pass around their army without hindrance, doing them all the damage you can, and cross the river east of the mountains. In either case, after crossing the river, you must move on and feel the right of Ewell’s troops, collecting information, provisions, etc.” [47]

The order continued with a further paragraph which Stuart seems not to have fully conveyed to the commanders of the brigades being left behind to screen the army:

 

“Give instructions to the commander of the brigades left behind, to watch the flank and rear of the army, and (in the evidence of the enemy leaving their front) retire from the mountains west of the Shenandoah, leaving sufficient pickets to guard the passes, and bringing everything clear along the Valley, closing upon the rear of the army.” [48]

Finally, Marshall provided an additional admonishment to Stuart “I think the sooner you cross into Maryland, after to-morrow, the better.” [49] However, the orders or suggestions that Lee and Longstreet gave Stuart “are so badly worded that it is difficult to make sense of them.” [50] In them, Stuart was directed maintain contact with Ewell, screen the Blue Ridge gaps, collect information, “raiding around the rear of Hooker’s forces” [51] damaging the enemy, and collecting supplies.

Lee should have “established that Stuart’s most important task was to guard Ewell’s right and report on the direction of Hooker’s advance once Lee crossed the Potomac.” [52]

This he did not do.

Lee’s lack of clarity and vagueness allowed to Stuart interpret the order in the manner that benefited his need to redeem his reputation. The order could easily be interpreted as getting Stuart and his men into Pennsylvania as quickly as possible to guard Ewell’s flank and discern the intentions of the enemy, which in hindsight and according to his aids appears to have been Lee’s intent. But as written, they could easily ben interpreted as permission to conduct a raid to “roam in the enemy’s rear for an unpredictable period of time, raising havoc with his communications, supplies, and isolated commands” and then “seek out Ewell’s corps and use it as a place of refuge from an aroused enemy.” [53]

Porter Alexander was quite critical of Lee’s decision and wrote after the war:
“In view of the issues at stake, and of the fact that he had been deprived of two promised brigades (Corse’s and Jenkins’s), it was unwise even to contemplate sending three brigades of cavalry on such distant service. When one compares the small beneficial results of raids, even when successful, with the risks here involved, it is hard to understand how Lee could have given his consent.” [54]

Stuart, as he was want to do, used “the freedom that he had long enjoyed in implementing Lee’s orders” [55] to carry out his plan. Now smarting from the Brandy Station criticism, Stuart “interpreted them as a sanction for another White House raid….” [56] While it is certain that Lee meant to give Stuart permission for a “joyride around the entire Army of the Potomac or even just the three Federal corps which formed the westernmost wing of Hooker’s pell-mell rush to the Potomac” [57] he had given his knight errant just enough permission to do exactly that, exactly what he wanted to do in the first place.

Had Lee’s orders been clear there is no doubt that Stuart would have obeyed,

The fact is that different standards apply to each of those courses of action, and thus, the orders must be clear. Without such clarity it becomes easy for subordinates to interpret them in a far different way from which they were intended by the issuing commander, with far reaching effects. By giving Stuart the latitude to go around the Federal army Lee had undercut his own preference that Stuart cross into Maryland via Shepherdstown and Frederick on June 24th. Lee had provided Stuart an opportunity for something that “Longstreet half-apologetically called “something better than the drudgery of a march around our flank.” [58] It was a critical mistake, which was then further compounded by Stuart and the movement of the Army of the Potomac.

Porter Alexander compared Stuart’s Ride to Joe Hooker’s use of his cavalry corps at Chancellorsville noting: “I think that Joe Hooker’s defeat was due to the absence of his cavalry on just such a useless raid as this. We ought to have recognized Hooker’s error & avoided repeating it….We took unnecessary risk, which was bad war, & the only bad war too, I think, in all our tactics.” [59] However, in retrospect it does not appear that Lee, Longstreet or Stuart recognized the problems this risk would entail, or just how much it resembled Hooker’s use of his cavalry corps at Chancellorsville.

 

Historians have long wondered why Lee was not more explicit in his orders to Stuart and why Stuart conducted an operation that left Lee blind and had no obvious advantages, except to allow Stuart to recover his tarnished reputation. Stephen Sears noted in his book Gettysburg that: “The very concept of Stuart’s expedition was fueled by overconfidence and misjudgment at the highest command level.” [60]

In a sense the decision harkens back to the hubris of Lee and others about the superiority of his army, and Lee’s well known distain for the Federal army’s leadership and soldiers. This hubris is even more profound when one considers the fact that as early as June 23rd Lee knew “that the Federals were laying a pontoon bridge at Edward’s Ferry, indicative of a crossing.” [61]

Stuart’s Ride

“Stuart had decided to do what he wanted to do – a march between Hooker’s army and Washington and mix raiding with riding en route to Ewell in Pennsylvania.” [62] In organizing his movement, Stuart decided to take his three best brigades with him, and leave the brigades of “Grumble” Jones and Beverly Robertson to defend gaps and screen the rear of the army. The choice was unfortunate; Jones was considered the “best outpost officer in his command,” [63] but Robertson, though known to be unpredictable was placed in command because he was “senior to the dependable Jones.” [64] The choice ridded Stuart of Robertson, who he did not trust in battle and Jones “whose antipathy for Stuart at least equaled Stuart’s for him.” [65] Stuart instructed Robertson to “observe and harass the Federals as long as they remained in Virginia.” [66]

On the surface to Stuart it appeared the right choice, Robertson “showed neither the initiative or enterprise of a cavalry officer in the Army of Northern Virginia, Robertson could only be used for routine work, such as guarding the mountain passes.” [67]

The intent was that Robertson would screen the army and follow it into Maryland, in fact Stuart gave Robertson “explicit instructions” [68] to do so, but Stuart’s order also contained a statement which Robertson used to justify his actions years later. Stuart instructed Robertson, who could be expected to obey orders:
“After the enemy has moved beyond your reach, leave sufficient pickets in the mountains and withdraw to the west side of the Shenandoah and place a strong and reliable picket to watch the enemy at Harper’s Ferry….

As long as the enemy remains in your front, in force, unless directed otherwise ordered by General R.E. Lee, Lieutenant-General Longstreet, or myself, hold the gaps with a line of pickets reaching across the Shenandoah by Charlestown to the Potomac.

Avail yourselves of every means in your power to increase the efficiency of your command and keep it up to the highest number possible. Particular attention will be paid to the shoeing of horses, and to marching off the turnpikes….” [69]

Robertson, interpreted the order that he was to go to the western side of the Shenandoah and avoid using the turnpikes, which he noted “the only road by which the orders (which particularly specified the avoidance of “turnpikes” on the difficulty and delay of shoeing horses) could be complied with, carried my command to Martinsburg….” [70]

Thus, “the two brigades would remain fixed, as if planted there, in an inanition of command which immobilized the men for whom Lee in Pennsylvania was anxiously watching.” [71] Longstreet had requested the industrious and dependable Hampton to command the remaining cavalry, but Stuart disregarded his counsel and took Hampton with him, after all, he was J.E.B. Stuart, the finest cavalryman on the American continent.

Stuart set off with his three best brigades, those of Wade Hampton, Fitzhugh Lee, and Rooney Lee. Since Lee had been wounded at Brandy Station, his brigade was now under the command of Colonel John R. Chambliss, another former West Pointer retired from the old army. Almost immediately after setting off Stuart and his brigades encountered a situation that should have immediately stopped movement to the Federal rear and instead move west of the Blue Ridge.

Moving through Glasscock’s Gap they “bumped unexpectedly into “an immense wagon train,” which happened to be the tail end of Winfield Hancock’s 2nd Corps, blocking the road in exactly the fashion Lee had described as a hindrance.” [72] In light of his encounter with the Army of the Potomac, it “was now clearly impossible for Stuart to follow the route originally intended.” [73] Stuart was now faced with a critical choice, either withdraw and follow the army, or attempt to continue his raid.

Instead of going back when he had the chance Stuart elected to continue with his “plan to go around the Federal army. It was a crucial decision, for he still could have turned back without losing any more time.” [74] Stuart consulted with “no ranking subordinate or staff member” [75] as he made his decision. On June 25th Stuart’s brigades had to spend a day grazing their horses since they had brought no grain with him, which delayed their advance north and east. This placed him a day behind schedule. Though he made better time on the 26th, advancing twenty-five miles he had to again stop to graze his horses at the Occoquan River. It had “taken forty-eight hours to march thirty-five miles.” [76]

The Price of 125 Wagons

Stuart continued on past the outskirts of Washington on June 27th and was again delayed when attempting to cross the Potomac at Rowser’s Ford by the “water level two feet higher than normal.” [77] He then encountered a large Federal wagon train not far from Washington capturing over 100 wagons and 600 mules. Stuart reveled in that feat and boasted that “he had taken more than one hundred and twenty-five best United States model wagons and splendid teams and gay caparisons,” containing “foodstuffs, oats, hay…bacon, ham, crackers and bread” but his progress was slowed by his enormous wagon train of captured supplies…” [78] He and briefly wondered “whether it might be worth “our entering Washington City” [79] before determining that the effort might be too costly because of the fortifications and proliferation of artillery.

At Fairfax Courthouse Stuart sent a message to Lee, which was never received by Lee, but which did arrive in Richmond on July 1st. It was a dispatch that was late, and even factually incorrect for the bulk of the Army of the Potomac was in Maryland advancing toward Lee in Pennsylvania. His report stated:

“General: – I took possession of Fairfax C.H. this morning at nine o’clock, together with large quantity of stores. The bulk of Hooker’s army has gone toward Lee’sburg, except the garrison at Alexandria and Washington, which has retreated to its fortifications.” [80]

On June 28th, Stuart received word that Hooker and the Army of the Potomac was across the Potomac. It was a major surprise to him, and by now Stuart “knew nothing of Lee’s position,[81] and instead of abandoning the wagon train, he sacrificed the speed and mobility that he needed to support Lee in order to keep it. Douglas Southall Freeman wrote that the “wagon train was Jeb Stuart’s stumbling block.” [82]

Of course it was Lee’s order for Stuart to collect all the supplies that he could justified Stuart’s course of action. Now, Stuart “far from guarding Ewell’s right, he was now moving away from Ewell, with no idea where Hooker’s army might be and no communication with Lee, who frequently inquiring of his aides, “Can you tell me where General Stuart is?” [83] But “ignorant of his chief’s distress, Jeb was not concerned, apparently, over the encumbrance of his wagon train.” [84] Stuart’s chief of staff Henry McClellan wrote after the war that “the capture of the train of wagons was a misfortune. The time occupied in securing it was insignificant; but the delay caused to the subsequent march was serious at a time when minutes counted almost as hours.” [85]

On the wrong side of the federal army, encumbered by the captured wagon train, “Stuart would have to make a half circle of more than fifty miles around Gettysburg before arriving there about noon on the second day of battle with most of his troopers, his artillery, and his wagon train lumbering far behind him.” [86]

On June 30th his men were engaged by Judson Kilpatrick’s Federal near cavalry division near Hanover, and “his men never fought more poorly…and General Stuart and his staff were nearly captured.” [87] As Stuart’s brigades slowly advanced  through Northern Virginia and Maryland the strain was becoming evident. The units had “covered more than one hundred miles since leaving Salem. Horses broke down and were abandoned, with their riders scouring the countryside for replacements. With each successive mile, the problem worsened.” [88]

As Stuart and his men plodded their way around the Army of the Potomac, encumbered by their booty they had to constantly fight off the Federal cavalry units of Judson Kilpatrick who had been dispatched to follow and harass him.

By now, Robert E. Lee was becoming more anxious by the hour. He had no contact with Stuart for nearly five days and he knew little about the locations or intentions of the enemy army. On the 27th at Chambersburg Lee was disquieted and asked various staff members “Can you tell me where General Stuart is?” Have you any news of the enemy’s movements?” [89]

On the morning of July 1st with his army now engaged in battle, “Stuart was practically lost, and had to guess which direction he should go to find Lee’s army.” [90] Lee enquired of Major Campbell Brown of Ewell’s Second Corps staff if Ewell “had heard anything” from Stuart. Brown, who had come to deliver a message from Ewell to Lee noted that Lee’s question was asked “with a particular searching almost quelous impatience.” [91] Lee told Brown that “Gen’l Stuart had not complied with his instructions” but instead had “gone off clear around” the Federal army, because “I see by a (Balto or N.Y.?) paper that he is near Washington.” [92] As Brown left he thought that Lee was “really uneasy & irritated by Stuart’s conduct & had no objection to his [Brown’s] hearing it.” [93]

 

Return of the Knight Errant

By the time Stuart’s troopers arrived in Gettysburg, “the expedition had occupied eight days, and had traversed in that time about 250 miles.” [94] Meanwhile, Lee had been exceedingly impatient. Stuart’s once proud outfit was “exhausted and too late to be of any service.” [95] The three brigades involved had lost very few men in combat, according to Porter Alexander only eighty-nine men were killed or wounded, [96] however “hundreds, if not thousands, of Stuart’s men had abandoned ranks during the ride, had their mounts break down, or were physically unable to perform their duties.” [97]

Stuart’s arrival at Gettysburg was not a moment of triumph by any means, but was a humiliating experience. Instead of reporting to his commander with information that Lee needed, it was Lee who informed him of the position of his own army and the Army of the Potomac. Lee’s words to his much beloved subordinate were painful. He asked him “General Stuart, where have you been?” [98] Stuart seemed to wilt at his mentor’s words, and attempted to put the best face forward, and told Lee “I have brought you 125 wagons and their teams, General.” This did not mollify Lee, who replied “Yes, General, but they are an impediment to me now.” [99]

Stuart’s raid was disastrous for Lee. He was blind and had no idea where the Federal army was until told by Longstreet’s scout Harrison on June 28th. One historian noted that the ride was “an act of folly- ill-planned, badly conducted, and (until the very end) executed with an almost total disregard for anything for any interest other than the self-promotion of J.E.B. Stuart.” [100] A staff member at Stuart’s headquarters wrote after the war:

“Raiding was Stuart’s hobby…and one which he rode with never failing persistence….What a glorious opportunity was now offered for the indulgence of his love!…What a tempting prize lay within his reach….Here was an undertaking which…would eclipse in brilliance and real importance any exploit of the war.” [101]

Stuart’s actions were heavily criticized by many in the army. Moxey Sorrell who served on Longstreet’s staff described the raid “a useless, showy parade almost under the guns of the Washington forts, and his horse, laurel wreathed, bore the gay rider on amid songs and stories.” [102] Likewise, Lee’s Chief of Staff Colonel Charles Marshall “urged the commanding general to court-martial Stuart” [103]

Lee was gracious to the extreme in his discussion of Stuart’s actions in his after action report. He made but one inference to Staurt without naming him’ but it was damning: “The movements of the army preceding the battle of Gettysburg had been much embarrassed by the absence of the cavalry.” [104] Walter Taylor of Lee’s staff wrote that the report was a “simple statement of facts: a striking illustration of his tendency to always suppress all consideration of self and spare the reputations and feelings of others.” [105]

In his after action report, which was by far the longest of any confederate commander, Stuart admitted to no mistakes. In it he showed a “self-righteous attitude” and showed a “tendency to complain of the failure of others.” [106] and in a manner blamed Lee and the remaining cavalry commanders for the loss, insisting that “he had left Lee with plenty of cavalry and remarked that “properly handled, such a command should have done everything requisite….” [107] There is some truth in this, but at the same time it is a foil which Stuart used to deflect criticism from himself. He blamed Jubal Early and his infantry for not finding him in Pennsylvania, when such responsibility by the doctrine of the day lay with the cavalry and not the infantry and Hill and Longstreet for not conforming their advance to his timetable.

Edward Coddington described Stuart’s report as “a strange document, more of an apology than a report, in which he tried to prove the virtues of his adventure.” [108] It was unfortunate and when Wade Hampton saw the report he wrote to Thomas Munford “Lately I saw for the first time Stuart’s report of the Gettysburg campaign and I never read a more erroneous – to call it no harsher name – one than it was.” [109]

Basically, in Stuart’s fantasy world, the world where his reputation mattered more than truth “Had Lee “properly handled” the cavalry Stuart left with him; had Early’s infantry found the cavalry column; had Hill and Longstreet acted in accord with Stuart’s after the fact assumptions – then all would have been well.” [110]

But despite Stuart’s hearty exaggerations in his after action report and the claims of his post war apologists, John Mosby and Henry McClellan, the raid had little effect on the army of the Potomac. The losses of wagons were rapidly made up by the massive Union war industry, of his prisoners, the majority of who he had to parole, close to half were teamsters and not trained combat soldiers. Though he had destroyed some rail lines, he never severed the ones that Meade used between his army and Washington D.C.

In sum, Stuart’s  gambit to redeem his reputation and build upon his legacywas a major part of Lee’s failure at Gettysburg. It certainly not the only one, Lee, Hill, Ewell, Longstreet and even Jefferson Davis made terrible decisions that contributed to the defeat. But that being said, in terms of the scope of the single decision of a commander which impacted  the campaign, this one is perhaps the only one which is indefensible by any standard of interpretation.

To this point a number of issues important to those involved in planning campaigns became clear: Deception, commander’s intent and unity of command. Lee successfully used deception to prevent the Federals from discerning his purposes. That was counteracted by his lack of clarity in communicating his intent to Stuart, and Stuart’s, Stuart’s own vague orders to Robertson, and the careless disregard by Stuart of any other consideration but his own reputation and vanity.

Notes

[1] ___________. Joint Publication 3-0 Joint Operations Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington DC August 2011

 

[2] Guelzo, Allen C. Gettysburg: The Last Invasion Vintage Books a Division of Random House, New York 2013 p.53

[3] Wert, Jeffry D. General James Longstreet The Confederacy’s Most Controversial Soldier, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster, New York and London 1993 p.85

[4] Korda, Michael.

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee Harper Collins Publishers, New York 2014 p.xxv

 

[5] Sears, Stephen W. To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 1992 p.173

 

[6] Wert, Jeffry D. A Glorious Army: Robert E. Lee’s Triumph 1862-1863 Simon and Schuster, New York and London 2011 p.26
[7] Ibid. Sears. To the Gates of Richmond p.173

 

[8] Freeman, Douglas Southall, Lee’s Lieutenant’s a Study in Command, One volume abridgement by Stephen W Sears, Scribner, New York 1998 p.158

 

[9] Ibid. Sears. To the Gates of Richmond p.173

 

[10] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.53
[11] Davis, Burke J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier Random House, New York 1957 p.94

 

[12] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.53

 

[13] Alexander, Edward Porter Military Memoirs of a Confederate: A Critical Narrative 1907 republished 2013 by Pickle Partners Publishing, Amazon Kindle Edition location 5633

 

[14] Thomas, Emory M. Bold Dragoon: The Life of J.E.B. Stuart University of Oklahoma Press, Norman OK 1986 and 1999 p.232

 

[15] Longacre, Edward G. Gentleman and Soldier: The Extraordinary Life of General Wade Hampton Rutledge Hill Press, Nashville TN 2003 p.82

 

[16] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.252

 

[17] Ibid. Thomas, Emory M. Bold Dragoon p.231
[18] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.252

 

[19] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.256

 

[20] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenant’s p.552

 

[21] Petruzzi, J. David and Stanley, Steven The Gettysburg Campaign in Numbers and Losses: Synopses, Orders of Battle, Strengths, Casualties and Maps, June 9 – July 1, 1863 Savas Beatie LLC, El Dorado Hills CA 2012 p.41
[22] Ibid. Davis, Burke J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier pp.319-320
[23] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenant’s p.552

 

[24] Dowdy, Clifford. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg: The Death of a Nation Skyhorse Publishing, New York 1986, originally published as Death of a Nation Knopf, New York 1958 p.57
[25] Catton, Bruce The Army of the Potomac: Glory Road Doubleday and Company, Garden City New York, 1952 p.253

 

[26] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.224

 

[27] Longacre, Edward G. John Buford: A Military Biography Da Capo Press, Perseus Book Group, Cambridge MA p.175

 

[28] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenant’s p.553

 

[29] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.57
[30] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.553

 

[31] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.233

 

[32] Ibid. Alexander Military Memoirs of a Confederate location 7210

 

[33] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.240

 

[34] Fuller, J.F.C. Grant and Lee: A Study in Personality and Generalship, Indiana University Press, Bloomington IN 1957 p.195
[35]   McClellan, Henry Brainerd The Life and Campaigns of Major General J.E.B. Stuart Commander of the Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia 1885. Digital edition copyright 2011 Strait Gate Publications, Charlotte NC Location 6131
[36] Coddington, Edwin B. The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, A Touchstone Book, Simon and Schuster New York, 1968 p.108

 

[37] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.108

 

[38] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.321

 

[39] Oates, William C. and Haskell, Frank A. Gettysburg: The Confederate and Union Views of the Most Decisive Battle of the War in One Volume Bantam Books edition, New York 1992, originally published in 1905 p.61
[40] Pryor, Elizabeth Brown. Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee Through His Private Letters Penguin Books, New York and London 2007 p.332

 

[41] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.555

 

[42] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.109

 

[43] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.109

 

[44] Ibid. McClellan The Life and Campaigns of Major General J.E.B. Stuart Location 6087

 

[45] Ibid. McClellan The Life and Campaigns of Major General J.E.B. Stuart location 6106

 

[46] Lee, Robert E. Reports of Robert E Lee, C.S. Army, Commanding Army of Northern Virginia Campaign Report Dated January 20th 1864. Amazon Kindle Edition location 285

 

[47] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.324

 

[48] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.259

 

[49] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.259

 

[50] Fuller, J.F.C. Decisive Battles of the U.S.A. 1776-1918 University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln 2007 copyright 1942 The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals p.226

 

[51] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.540

 

[52] Ibid. Korda Clouds of Glory p.540

 

[53] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.110

 

[54] Ibid. Alexander Military Memoirs of a Confederate location7223 of 12968

 

[55] Taylor, John M. Duty Faithfully Performed: Robert E Lee and His Critics Brassey’s, Dulles VA 1999 p.136

 

[56] Ibid. Fuller Decisive Battles of the U.S.A.p.226. Note: The White House Raid was Stuart’s ride around McClellan’s army during the Seven Days.

 

[57] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.96
[58] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.96
[59] Alexander, Edward Porter. Fighting for the Confederacy: The Personal Recollections of General Edward Porter Alexander edited by Gary Gallagher University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 1989 p.228

 

[60] Sears, Stephen W. Gettysburg, Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston and New York, 2003 p.106
[61] Ibid. Wert A Glorious Army p.226

 

[62] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.241

 

[63] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.324

 

[64] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.63
[65] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.63
[66] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.241
[67] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.112

 

[68] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.112

 

[69] Robertson, Beverly The Confederate Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War Volume III, The Tide Shifts. Edited by Robert Underwood Johnson and Clarence Clough Buel Castle, Secaucus NJ p.253

 

[70] Ibid, Robertson The Confederate Cavalry in the Gettysburg Campaign p.253

 

[71] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.63
[72] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.96

 

[73] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.265

 

[74] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.112

 

[75] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.266

 

[76] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.325

 

[77] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.112

 

[78] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.541

 

[79] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.98
[80] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.272

 

[81] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.325

 

[82] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.558

 

[83] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.541

 

[84] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.558

 

[85] Ibid. McClellan The Life and Campaigns of Major General J.E.B. Stuart location 6267 of 12283

 

[86] Ibid Korda Clouds of Glory p.541

 

[87] Ibid. Dowdy Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.73
[88] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.272

 

[89] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.273

 

[90] Ibid. Alexander Military Memoirs of a Confederate location7248 of 12968

 

[91] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.281

 

[92] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.98
[93] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.281

 

[94] Ibid. Alexander Military Memoirs of a Confederate location7223 of 12968

 

[95] Ibid. Fuller Decisive Battles of the U.S.A. 1776-1918 p.227

 

[96] Ibid. Alexander Military Memoirs of a Confederate location 7261 of 12968

 

[97] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.285

 

[98] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.334

 

[99] Ibid. Davis J.E.B. Stuart: The Last Cavalier p.334

 

[100] Ibid. Guelzo Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.98
[101] Ibid. Wert Cavalryman of the Lost Cause p.268

 

[102] Sorrell, Moxey G. Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer [Illustrated Edition] originally published 1905, Pickle Partners Publishing 2013, Amazon Kindle version location 2585 of 5692

 

[103] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.252
[104] Lee, Robert E. Reports of Robert E Lee, C.S. Army, Commanding Army of Northern Virginia Campaign Report Dated January 20th 1864. Amazon Kindle Edition, location 624 of 743

 

[105] Taylor, Walter. General Lee: His campaigns in Virginia 1861-1865 With Personal Reminiscences University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln Nebraska and London, 1994 previously published 1906 p.185

 

[106] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.202

 

[107] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.254

 

[108] Ibid. Coddington The Gettysburg Campaign p.202

 

[109] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.253

 

[110] Ibid. Thomas Bold Dragoon p.255

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“Our Army Would Be Invincible If…” Pt.4 A.P. Hill’s Third Corps

Friends of Padre Steve’s World

This is the fourth part of my re-written chapter on the leadership of Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg. Today is a look at the leaders of Lieutenant General A.P. Hill’s Third Corps. This like the following sections of this chapter of my Gettysburg text is interesting because it shows the complexities of the lives and personalities of the men leading these units. Professional soldiers, volunteers with little military experience, soldiers, lawyers, engineers and politicians they are an interesting collection of personalities; some surrounded in myth and others practically unknown. I think it is important for anyone studying a war, a campaign, or a battle to at least look at the lives of the men who planned and fought it. In doing so, even those that oppose what they did in rebelling against the United States can find in them some measure of humanity, and sometimes even gain a sense of empathy for some of them.   

That is why when we look at the lives of soldiers, we have to take the time to at least try to understand the nuance, the contradictions, their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, as well as a measure of their character.

In the coming week I will be doing Stuart’s Cavalry Division. I will then get to work on a similar chapter for the Army of the Potomac.

Have a great night

Peace

Padre Steve+

general_a_p_hill

Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell “A.P.” Hill, C.S.A.

The newly created Third Corps under Lieutenant General A.P. Hill was thought to be in good hands. Hill had commanded his large; six brigade “Light Division” with distinction, though having serious conflicts with both Longstreet and Jackson. At Antietam Hill’s hard marching from Harpers Ferry which allowed the Light Division to arrive on the battlefield in a nick of time, had saved the Army of Northern Virginia from destruction.

Hill was a graduate of West Point, class of 1847. He would have been part of the illustrious class of 1846, but the young cadet had a certain proclivity for women and a certain amount of debauchery lost a year of study after contracting “a case of gonorrhea, followed by complications, which were followed by lingering prostatitis” [1] afflictions which caused many other ailments that would plague him the rest of his life. At West Point Hill roomed with and became a longtime friend of a refined cadet from Philadelphia, George McClellan. His delayed graduate put him in the class of 1847 where along with his roommate Julian McAllister and friends Harry Heth and Ambrose Burnside were the social leaders of the class, due to their “practical jokes and boisterous conduct.” [2]

Hill graduated fifteenth in his class and was assigned to the artillery. The young Second Lieutenant accompanied Brigadier General Joseph Lane’s brigade to Mexico where he saw limited action at the end of the war and mainly served on occupation duty. In Mexico and in the following years he was stricken with various fevers including typhoid and yellow fever, as well as recurrences of his prostatitis which so limited his ability to serve in the field with the artillery that he requested a transfer to a desk job. This he was granted by Secretary of War Jefferson Davis who detailed him “for special duty in the United States Coast Survey offices in Washington D.C.” [3]

The assignment to the Coast Survey offices was unusual, especially for Hill’s era of service, for they were a part of the Department of the Navy. Despite much political support Hill could not get promoted to captain, likely due to the fact that he was working for the Navy. As war drew near Hill married Kitty Morgan McClung. His friends at the Coastal Survey attempted to convince him to remain with the Union as serving in their office he would have little chance of taking up arms against Virginia.

Hill was torn, he hated slavery and the depreciations visited on blacks; having in 1850 responded to the lynching of a young black man in his home town of Lynchburg: “Shame, shame upon you all, good citizens…Virginia must crawl unless you vindicate good order or discipline and hang every son of a bitch connected with this outrage.” [4] Likewise he was not in favor of secession, but he, like so many other Southern officers felt a stronger connection to family and his Virginia heritage than to the Union, and resigned his commission on February 26th 1861.

Hill was appointed as a Colonel of infantry in May 1861 to organize and command the 13th Virginia Infantry regiment. He commanded the regiment in the Valley and western Virginia as well as at First Manassas. By February 1862 he was a Brigadier General commanding Longstreet’s old Virginia brigade on the Peninsula where he distinguished himself against McClellan at Williamsburg. On May 26th 1862 he was promoted to Major General and given command of the very large so called “Light Division.” He emerged from the fighting on the Peninsula, the battles around Richmond and the Seven Days “with the reputation of being one of the best combat officers that Lee had.” [5] However, his success on the battlefield, like so many commanders came at great cost. In those battles his division suffered nearly 5,500 casualties. “Six colonels and three majors were killed; two brigadiers (Anderson and Pender), eleven colonels and six lieutenant colonels wounded.” [6]

Hill had an earned reputation as a brilliant division commander with the Light Division. Despite his clashes with Longstreet, and especially with Jackson, who had Hill arrested twice and attempted to have him court-martialed, Lee recommended him to take command of Third Corps. Lee sang his praise of Hill and his abilities to Jefferson Davis noting that Hill was “the best soldier of his grade with me.” [7] However, Hill had never commanded more than one division in action, except for the confused hour after Jackson had been struck down. Hill, however, was devoted, prompt, and energetic, and deserved promotion.” [8]

Hill’s reputation as a superb division commander was well earned, at Antietam where when Lee’s army was in danger of destruction, he “drove his men at a killing pace toward the sound of distant gunfire….” [9] Hill’s “Light Division’s remarkable march from Harper’s Ferry- seventeen miles in less than eight hours- rivaled the best marks by Jackson’s famous foot cavalry.” [10] Upon his arrival “instantly recognized the military situation, Kyd Douglas wrote, “and without waiting for the rest of the division and without a breathing spell he threw his columns into line and moved against the enemy, taking no note of their numbers.” [11] Hill’s march saved the Army of Northern Virginia from destruction as he dealt reverses to his old friends McClellan and Burnside. “Lee’s reference to him in his official Sharpsburg report, “And then A.P. Hill came up,” had become a byword in the army.” [12] There were other times, notably at Second Manassas and Fredericksburg where “he was sometimes careless on the battlefield,” and in both instances “his defensive postings were poor and nearly proved very costly.” [13]

Hill was a “nervous wiry man with a persistent chip of underappreciation on his shoulders and a bevy of chronic illnesses when under stress.” [14] He had an “impetuous streak and fiery temperament that matched his red beard, traits that at times had brought him trouble on the battlefield and off…” [15] He Despite that Hill exhibited a fondness and care for the welfare of his men that earned their respect and admiration. One officer called him “the most loveable of all Lee’s generals,” while “his manner so courteous as almost to lack decision.” [16]

Hill detested Jackson, who he referred to as “that old Presbyterian fool.” [17] His poor relations with Jackson’s confidants at Second Corps ensured that Ewell took Second Corps when Lee reorganized the army after Chancellorsville.

Lee appointed Hill to command Third Corps of which “half of the troops had been with him all along” [18] in the Light Division. Lee liked Hill’s aggressiveness and command instincts, which mirrored his own. Lee hoped that Hill’s aggressive instincts as a division commander would translate into success at the corps level. As such Lee, promoted him over the head of D.H. Hill and Lafayette McLaws who were both senior to him. Longstreet was not in favor of Hill’s appointment, most likely due to his altercation with Hill the previous year and lobbied for the promotion of D.H. Hill.

Regarding the promotion of A.P. Hill and Ewell, Lee wrote to Davis:

“I wish to take advantage of every circumstance to inspire and encourage…the officers and men to believe that their labors are appreciated, and that when vacancies occur that they will receive the advantages of promotion….I do not know where to get better men than those I have named.” [19]

But the decision to promote the Ewell and Hill, both Virginians stirred some dissent among those that believed that Lee was “favoring Virginians over officers from other states. The promotion of A.P. Hill, as previous noted was “made over the head of two Major Generals more senior than Hill- North Carolinian D.H. Hill and Georgian Lafayette McLaws.” [20] There is some validity to this perception, as Longstreet’s biographer Jeffry Wert noted:

“While the bulk of the troops hailed from outside the Old Dominion, two of the three corps commanders, six of the ten division commanders – including Jeb Stuart with the cavalry – and sixteen of forty-seven brigade commanders were natives of Virginia, along with the army commander and the chief of artillery.” [21]

Hill’s corps, like those of Longstreet and Ewell was composed of three divisions, and even more so than Ewell his division suffered a want of senior leaders who had served at the grade they were now expected to serve.

Anderson’s Division

Richard_H._Anderson

Major General Richard Anderson, C.S.A.

The most stable division in Third Corps was Richard Anderson’s, transferred from First Corps. Under Longstreet the division and its commander had served well. Anderson was an 1842 graduate of West Point and classmate of Longstreet and Lafayette McLaws. He served as in the Dragoons on the frontier, in Mexico and again on the frontier, throughout the 1840s and 1850s. He was promoted to Captain in 1855 and stationed in Nebraska when his home state of South Carolina seceded from the Union.

“Tall, strong, and of fine background, Anderson never was disposed to quibble over authority or to indulge in any kind of boastfulness.” [22] He began the war commanding the 1st South Carolina Infantry, and was soon a brigadier. He fought well on the Peninsula and was promoted to Major General and given command of Benjamin Huger’s former division in July of 1862. He commanded the division at Second Manassas and at Antietam, where he was wounded in the vicious fighting at the Bloody Lane. The division saw little action at Fredericksburg, but in “the Battle of Chancellorsville, he and his men fought extremely well.” [23] Lee commented that at Chancellorsville that Anderson was “distinguished for the promptness, courage, and skill with which he and his division executed every order.” [24]

Lee considered Anderson a “capable officer”…and had marked him for future higher command.” [25] Anderson was noted for his modesty and unselfishness, “his easy going ways, combined with his competence and professionalism made him one of the most well liked officers in the Army of Northern Virginia.” [26]

However, there was an incalculable thrown into the equation. During the reorganization of the army, Anderson’s division was detached from Longstreet’s First Corps and assigned to Hill’s new Third Corps. Hill had not yet established his methods of operation as a corps commander, and Anderson, used to “Longstreet’s methodical insistence that everything be just so before he would venture into action” contrasted with Hill’s “tendency to leap before he looked.” [27]

Anderson’s division was composed of five brigades commanded by a mixed lot of commanders, none of whom were professionals.

Wilcox

Brigadier General Cadmus Wilcox was a no-nonsense graduate of the illustrious West Point class of 1846. Hailing from Tennessee, Wilcox was outgoing and popular, and before the end of his first year “had made friends of every member of the class. It was said that no cadet of his time had so many friends and was so universally esteemed.” [28] He kept those friends throughout the years, friends who remained his friends, even though they had to fight against him. Harry Heth said of him “I know of no man of rank who participated in our unfortunate struggle on the Southern side, who had more warm and sincere friends, North and South.” [29]

Wilcox graduated near the bottom of the class fifty-fourth of fifty-eight and was commissioned as an infantry officer. Wilcox served in the Mexican War where he was in the thick of the fight at Chapultepec, on the frontier, and taught tactics for five years at West Point. Following that assignment he studied for two years in Europe. Wilcox is an expert rifleman and instructor. He “wrote a manual, Rifle and Infantry Tactics, and translated an Austrian manual on infantry tactics.” [30]

When war came he resigned his commission and became Colonel of the 9th Alabama Infantry, and by October 1861 he was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of a brigade. He had served with distinction as a brigade commander at Williamsburg, Seven Pines and the Seven Days Battles, and was given acting command of small division at Second Manassas. However, after an uneven performance he is passed over for command of a division which instead was given to his classmate, George Pickett. Wilcox was disgruntled and upset at being “passed over for advancement in favor of a junior officer.” [31] “Restless, sore, and disposed to go to another Confederate army where he will have a chance,” [32] Wilcox asked Lee for a transfer to another army, but “Lee could not afford to lose such an experienced brigadier, and refused to transfer” him. [33]

At Chancellorsville the delaying action of his brigade at Salem’s Church had helped save the army. Sedgwick’s Sixth Corps had succeeded in crossing the Rappahannock and was marching on Lee’s rear areas. On May third with the fate of the army in the balance, Wilcox “reasoned intelligently and promptly when he should leave Banks’ Ford. Then, instead of joining Early, he took his chance on being destroyed in order that he might delay the enemy on the Plank Road.” [34] Wilcox and his troops, supported by other units of McLaws’ division which came up in support thrashed the Union troops, inflicting 1523 casualties for the loss of 674 men. [35] In his post-battle report Lee noted that Wilcox was “entitled to especial praise for the judgment and bravery displayed “in impeding Sedgwick “and for the gallant and successful stand at Salem’s Church.” [36] Three months later he will get his promotion to Major General and command of a division.

Mahone

Brigadier General William “Little Billy” Mahone was a diminutive graduate of VMI with no prior military experience.. Barely five foot five inches tall and weighing just 125 pounds the brigadier was described by Moxie Sorrel as “Very small in height and frame, he seemed a mere atom with little flesh.” [37] There was so little substance to his body that when his wife heard that he had “he had taken a flesh wound at Second Manassas…she knew it had to be serious, she said, “for William has no flesh whatsoever.” [38]

Instead Mahone was an engineer who had “established himself as a resourceful construction engineer for railroads.” [39] When Virginia seceded he was “president, chief engineer and superintendent of the new Norfolk and Petersburg Railroad, which he succeeded in constructing across the bottomless Dismal Swamp.” [40] Hard driven, he had dreams of connecting his railroad with others and linking the Virginia Tidewater with the Mississippi and the Pacific.

Mahone was an ardent secessionist and when Virginia seceded he took leave of his railroad and became Colonel of the 6th Virginia Infantry, with which he occupied Norfolk when Federal forces evacuated it. He was soon a brigadier and his skill in engineering was put to good use at Drewry’s Bluff before Richmond.

He commanded his brigade with reasonable effectiveness before Gettysburg. As a brigadier “he is not lacking in diligence, but he is not without special distinction.” [41] As a brigade commander fought competently at Chancellorsville and by Gettysburg had established himself as a “competent and experienced brigade leader.” [42] His actions at Gettysburg would be controversial, but he rose to fame as the war went on and became one of the hardest fighting division commanders in the Army of Northern Virginia during the Wilderness, Petersburg and to the end of the war where he “one of Lee’s most conspicuous – and trusted – subordinates.” [43]. Following the war Mahone expands the Norfolk and Western Railway system, and entered politics, where won election as a Republican to the U.S. Senate in 1880.

Wright

Brigadier General Ransom “Rans” Wright was a Georgia lawyer who had grown up dirt poor and between hard work and study had made a name for himself. He was a “very gifted man, a powerful writer, an effective orator, and a rare lawyer.” [44]

He had strong Unionist sentiments, something that gained him little popularity in a secession minded state, he was the brother in law of Stephen Douglas’s running mate Herschel Johnson and supported the pro-Union ticket of John Bell and Edward Everett.

Despite his sentiments Wright volunteered when Georgia seceded and despite his lack of military experience was named Colonel of the 3rd Georgia Infantry. He took command of his brigade as a Colonel and was promoted to Brigadier General in June 1862. By the time of Gettysburg he “was considered a well-tested combat veteran.” [45] Despite his earned reputation as a solid brigade commander, Wright “did not endear himself to the Virginia elite in the Army of Northern Virginia.” [46] In 1864 the Governor of Georgia requested that he be detached from the Army of Northern Virginia to serve in that state where he was promoted to Major General.

Posey

Brigadier General Carnot Posey was a highly successful plantation planter and lawyer who had served as a “lieutenant under Col. Jefferson Davis, and suffered a slight wound at the Battle of Buena Vista” [47] in the Mexican War. After the war he returned to his legal practice and was appointed as a United States District Attorney by President Buchanan, a position that he held until Mississippi seceded from the Union. At the outset of the war he organized a company named the “Wilkinson Rifles.” That company became part of the 16th Mississippi Infantry and Posey became its first Colonel. He was badly wounded at Cross Keys in the Valley campaign.

He fought well at Second Manassas and took acting command of Featherston’s brigade at Antietam. Despite a poor showing there by the brigade which collapsed in confusion after doomed counter-attack on the Sunken Road, he was promoted to brigade command prior to Chancellorsville where he and his brigade gave a strong performance under fire. He was mortally wounded at Bristoe Station on October 14th 1863.

Lang

Colonel David Lang commanded the Florida Brigade the smallest in the army. Just twenty-five years old, the graduate of the Georgia Military Institute inherited brigade command when Brigadier General Edward Perry came down with typhoid fever after Chancellorsville. He had only fought in three battles, two as a captain “and he had never led a brigade in combat.” [48] After Gettysburg when Perry returned to the brigade Lang returned to command his regiment, finally taking command of a brigade at Petersburg at the end of the war, without a promotion to Brigadier General.

Pender’s Division

William_Dorsey_Pender

Major General Dorsey Pender, C.S.A

Hill’s old Light Division was divided into two divisions. Major General William Dorsey Pender commanded the old Light Division which now consisted of four rather than six brigades.

Pender was a “pious, serious North Carolinian” [49]and a graduate of West Point when he graduated nineteenth of forty-six in that class. Prior to the war he served on the frontier and in California with the artillery and dragoons. During the secession crisis he “offered his services to the Confederacy even before most of the states, including his own, had seceded.” [50]

Pender was “only seven years out of West Point” [51] in 1863 when he was promoted to Major General and given command of his division, he was only twenty-nine years old, and the “youngest of that rank in the army.” [52] The young general was deeply loyal to Powell Hill and a partisan of the Light Division. However, he had risen “on first rate ability, steadfast ambition and a headlong personal leadership in battle which gave a driving force to his brigade” [53] which he considered “the best brigade of the best division” [54] in the army.

Lee praised him as “a most gallant officer” and was deeply sensitive about keeping Pender with the troops that found him so inspiring noting “I fear the effect upon men of passing him over in favour of another not so identified with them.” [55] Pender was an “intelligent, reflective man, deeply religious and guided by a strong sense of duty.” [56]

Pender’s four veteran brigades were commanded by three experienced officers and one new to brigade command, but the young general would not get to lead them into action for long as he was mortally wounded by a shell fragment before the division was to go into action on July 2nd at Gettysburg. His division would be led by Brigadier General James Lane on July 2nd and turned over to Major General Isaac Trimble shortly before Pickett’s Charge.

Perrin

Colonel Abner Perrin from South Carolina was the least experienced of Pender’s brigade commanders. He had prior Regular Army experience. He enlisted in the army at the age of nineteen and served as a lieutenant in Mexico. He resigned his commission in 1848 and became a successful lawyer. When secession came he volunteered and served as a company commander in the 14th South Carolina. Perrin took command of the regiment after Fredericksburg. He led the regiment in action for the first time at Chancellorsville. Lee named him to command the brigade when his brigade commander, Samuel McGowan, was wounded. He was not promoted to Brigadier General, but despite his inexperience he remained in command of the veteran South Carolina brigade, “whose leadership had been decimated” and had “devolved to lieutenant colonels, majors and captains.” [57] His brigade performed well on the first day, and his leadership earned him his promotion. He was killed in action in the “counterattack at the Bloody Angle at the Battle of Spotsylvania on May 12th, 1864. Just before the battle he promised to emerge a live major general or a dead brigadier.” [58]

Lane

Brigadier General James Lane was an academic. He graduated second in his class at VMI in 1854 and received a degree in science from the University of Virginia three years later. He returned to VMI as an assistant professor then became a professor of natural philosophy at the North Carolina Military Institute. [59]

He led many of his cadets to war when he was commissioned as a major in the 1st North Carolina Volunteer Infantry. He took command of it in September 1861 and was promoted to brigade command in October 1862 after Antietam.

Lane proved himself an able commander at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. During the Battle of Chancellorsville his brigade led Jackson’s assault against the Union right, suffering 909 casualties. That night he had the misfortune to be part of one of the saddest episodes of the Confederate war when one of his units mortally wounded Stonewall Jackson on the night of May 2nd 1863. Despite this “he and his men could be counted on to do the right thing when the bullets started to fly.” [60] He was badly wounded at Cold Harbor and missed most of the rest of the war. Following the war he returned to academics and was a professor of civil engineering at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute when he died in 1907.

Thomas

Brigadier General Edward Thomas was a plantation owner from Georgia. He was not completely without military experience having served as a lieutenant of Georgia mounted volunteers in the Mexican War. He was offered a commission in the Regular Army after the war, but he turned it down and returned home.

He became colonel of the 35th Georgia Infantry in October 1861 and led it as part of Pettigrew’s brigade. When Pettigrew was wounded at Seven Pines the regiment was shifted to Joseph Anderson’s brigade of the Light Division. Thomas assumed command of that brigade when Anderson was wounded at Frayser’s Farm and returned to Richmond to “resume direction of the important Tredegar Iron Works.” [61] He commanded it in the thick of the fighting at Second Manassas, and at Fredericksburg helped stop Meade’s advance with a fierce counterattack. He continued to command it at Chancellorsville. Thomas could always be counted on to deliver “a solid, if unspectacular performance.” [62] He remained in command of the brigade through the end of the war and surrendered with Lee at Appomattox.

Scales

Brigadier General Alfred Scales was new to brigade command. A “forty-five year old humorless politician…a duty driven public official-turned-warrior.” [63] Scales had served in the U.S. House of Representatives and left politics when the war began. Since he had no military experience he chose, unlike so many other men of stature, to enlist as a private when North Carolina seceded.

His fellow soldiers elected to a captaincy in Pender’s 3rd North Carolina Volunteers. When Pender was transferred, Scales succeeded him in command of the regiment. He commanded that regiment on the Peninsula and during the Seven Days. From that time Scales’ career was “one of consistent stout service in Pender’s hard fighting brigade.” [64] Scales served as acting commander of the brigade when Pender was wounded at Fredericksburg and “met the test.” [65] He distinguished himself with the 13th at Chancellorsville where he was wounded in the thigh. Scales service with Pender’s brigade “had been one of consistent stout service.” [66]

When Pender was promoted to division command “it was a forgone conclusion that his replacement in brigade command would be Scales.” [67] He had served with the brigade, was known to its soldiers and though inexperienced as a brigade commander he “and the brigade were one, for he had shared its fortunes, was proud of it, and was confident of victory as he led it to Gettysburg.” [68]

Heth’s Division

heth

Major General Harry Heth, C.S.A. 

Hill’s remaining division was commanded by the newly minted Major General Harry Heth. It was composed of the two remaining brigades of the Light Division and two brigades that had recently joined to the army for the offensive.

Harry Heth was a graduate of West Point who had a “high reputation personally and professionally.” [69] He was a cousin of George Pickett and joined Pickett as one of the hell raising cadets of the academy. Their reunion at the academy “developed into a three-year effort to see how much illicit merriment they could initiate without getting booted out.” [70] Heth graduated no higher in his class than Pickett did his the previous year, finishing at the bottom in the forty-five member class of 1847. Heth wrote of his West Point years later admitting that his academic record was

“abominable. My thoughts ran in the channel of fun. How to get to Benny Havens occupied more of my time than Legendre on Calculus. The time given to study was measured by the amount of time necessary to be given to prevent failure at the annual examinations.” [71]

Heth spent fourteen years in the old army, rising to the rank of Captain and spending most of his time on the frontier. Heth came from a family with long ties dating back to the American Revolution where his grandfather had, fought and the War of 1812 where his father had served. He was “well liked for his social graces, and Powell Hill held him in great respect.” [72]

Lee had a high regard for Heth who “had a solid record as Lee’s quartermaster general in the early days of Virginia’s mobilization for war.” [73] Lee considered him a friend and somewhat a protégé, however his regard “cannot be based on any substantive achievements by Heth, whose antebellum career and war experience had been similarly unremarkable.” [74] The appointment would prove to be a mistake. “Heth had little experience under fire, and an earlier petition for Heth’s promotion had been turned down by the Confederate Senate.” [75] When he recommended Heth for command of the new division he assured Jefferson Davis that he had “a high estimate of Genl. Heth.” [76] Heth did know his own deficiencies and candidly “admitted his own weaknesses and resisted the temptation to take himself too seriously.” [77]

Clifford Dowdy wrote that Heth was an example of a “soundly trained soldier of perennial promise. Always seemingly on the verge of becoming truly outstanding” but “never lived up to the army’s expectations.” [78] Heth became a brigade commander in Hill’s division prior to Chancellorsville after having served in Western Virginia and in the West.

Heth was new to command of the newly formed division which was a hastily put together force. In a new division where experienced leadership was needed, Heth had the weakest collection of brigade commanders in the Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg. Ironically, it would be the division that stumbled into combat against the Buford’s Cavalry and Reynold’s First Corps at Herr, McPherson and Seminary Ridge on July 1st 1863. After Gettysburg he retained command of his division “with steadfastness and some competence until the final surrender.” [79]

Pettigrew

Newest to the division was Brigadier General Johnston Pettigrew whose North Carolina brigade was one of the largest in the army. This was one of the new brigades provided to Lee by Davis, and “it had no appreciable experience.” [80] Pettigrew was a renaissance man, “the most educated of all Confederate generals.[81] He was a graduate of the University of North Carolina. He was “proficient in French, German, Italian and Spanish, with a reading knowledge of Greek, Hebrew and Arabic.” [82]

Pettigrew had spent a good amount of time abroad on diplomatic service before returning to his law practice in Charleston. He had “even spent time as a volunteer aid with the French and Italian forces against the Austrians in 1859.” [83] He was elected to the state legislature in 1856 when he “sensed the oncoming of hostilities and was named colonel of the 1st Regiment of Rifles, a Charleston militia outfit.” [84] Pettigrew was “one of those natural leaders of a privileged background who, without military ambitions, had been advanced on the application of native intelligence and contagious courage.” [85]

Davis

Brigadier General Joseph Davis, the nephew of President Jefferson Davis commanded a newly raised Mississippi brigade. Davis was “a congenial and conscientious officer,” but “he had never led troops in battle.”[86] Davis owed his appointment to his relationship with the President. He was “entirely without combat experience.[87] Robert Krick wrote that Davis’s “promotion to the rank of brigadier general seems to be as unadulterated an instance of nepotism as the record of the Confederacy offers.” [88] Davis survived Gettysburg and after a bout with typhoid fever returned to command his brigade and “served solidly, though unspectacularly, until the end of the war with Lee’s army.” [89]

Most of the war he had been spent on his uncle’s staff in Richmond and in his new appointment he was not with officers of any experience as “No one serving on Joe Davis’s staff showed strong signs of having the background, experience, and ability that might help the brigadier meet his responsibilities.” [90] Likewise the nine field grade officers assigned to the regiments of his brigade were similarly ill-equipped for what they would face in their first test of combat.

Archer

Heth did have the experienced mixed Alabama-Tennessee brigade of Brigadier General James Archer under his command, but despite its experience and “fine reputation” [91] the brigade was seriously understrength after seeing heavy combat at Chancellorsville.

The brigade commander James Archer was a native of Bel Air Maryland, one of two Maryland officers serving in the Army of Northern Virginia. Archer was graduate of the University of Maryland who practiced law before entering the Regular army as a Captain during the Mexican War. During the war he was brevetted for gallantry at the Battle of Chapultepec. He left the army after the war and then returned to it in 1855 as an infantry Captain and was serving in Walla Walla Washington as the secession crisis deepened.

He resigned his commission in March 1861 and was commissioned in the new Confederate army. He received command of the 5th Texas Regiment “who thought him a tyrant.” [92] Though he had no battle experience he was promoted to Brigadier General and took command of a Tennessee brigade at Seven Pines when its commander was killed. Like the Texans the Tennesseans did not take to him and dubbed him “The Little Game Cock.” [93]

Initially, Archer was not well liked in any of his commands, the Texans considered him a tyrant and he was “very non-communicative, the bearing and extreme reserve of the old army officer made him, for a time, one of the most hated of men.” [94] After being joined to the Light Division Archer transformed his reputation among his men and had “won the hearts of his men by his wonderful judgment and conduct on the field.” [95] He distinguished himself at Antietam, and though quite ill led his brigade solidly. At Fredericksburg Archer helped save the Confederate line by leading a counter-attack following the Union breakthrough at Telegraph Hill.

Brockenbrough

The last brigade of Heth’s division was the small Virginia brigade of the “plodding, uninspiring” [96] Colonel John Brockenbrough. Brockenbrough was a “wealthy, but rough- looking Virginia planter.” [97] He was an 1850 graduate of VMI.

He entered “entered service as colonel of the 40th [Virginia Infantry] in May 1861.” [98] The brigade when it had been commanded by Charles Field had been considered one of the best in the army. Brockenbrough took command of it in 1862 when Field was wounded, but he “had never managed the brigade well, especially at Fredericksburg, and Lee returned him to regimental command.” [99]

Brockenbrough again assumed the command of the brigade after Chancellorsville when Heth was promoted. Lee did not deem him suited for promotion, but believed that Brockenbrough “could be counted on to keep together a command sadly reduced in numbers.” [100] Like Archer’s brigade the brigade was “sadly reduced in numbers” and in morale…” [101] His performance at Gettysburg was dreadful and five days after the battle Lee relived him of command of the brigade, returning to his regiment with lower ranking subordinate in command of the brigade. He resigned from the army in 1864.

Hill’s Third Corps was the least prepared command to go into battle at Gettysburg. While some leaders, particularly Richard Anderson, Dorsey Pender and Cadmus Wilcox were excellent commanders, the corps was led by too many untried, inexperienced, or in some cases incompetent leaders to be committed to an offensive campaign so shortly after it was constituted. Likewise, some of its formations were just shells of what they had been before Chancellorsville and had not been reconstituted

[1] Waugh, John C. The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox, Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan and their Brothers Ballantine Books, New York 1994 p.166

[2] Robertson, James I. Jr. General A.P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior Random House, New York 1987 p.13

[3] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.26

[4] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.22

[5] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.95

[6] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.95

[7] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.526

[8] Ibid. Freeman Lee p.304

[9] Ibid. Robertson, General A.P. Hillp.143

[10] Sears, Stephen W. Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam Houghton-Mifflin Company, Boston and New York 1983 p.285

[11] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.144

[12] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.301

[13] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.45

[14] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.22

[15] Ibid. Sears Landscape Turned Red p.285

[16] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.301

[17] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.22

[18] Foote, Shelby, The Civil War, A Narrative. Volume Two Fredericksburg to Meridian Random House, New York 1963 p.434

[19] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.526

[20] Ibid. Taylor, John Duty Faithfully Performed p.290

[21] Ibid. Wert General James Longstreet p.249

[22] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.108

[23] Ibid. Glatthaar General Lee’s Army from Victory to Collapse p.343

[24] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.512

[25] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.86

[26] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.306

[27] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg pp.86-87

[28] Ibid. Waugh The Class of 1846 p.69

[29] Ibid. Waugh The Class of 1846 p.498

[30] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.310

[31] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.310

[32] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.46

[33] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.310

[34] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.512

[35] Sears, Stephen W. Chancellorsville Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston and New York 1996 p.385

[36] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.512

[37] Trudeau, Noah Andre, The Last Citadel: Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864-April 1865 Little Brown and Company, Boston, Toronto, London 1991 p.117

[38] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.55

[39] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.243

[40] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.314

[41] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.48

[42] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.315

[43] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.243

[44] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.328

[45] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.317

[46] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.328

[47] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.319

[48] ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.322

[49] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.23

[50] ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.325

[51] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.85

[52] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.47

[53] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.85

[54] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.45

[55] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.47

[56] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.85

[57] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.331

[58] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.332

[59] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg pp.332-333

[60] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.334

[61] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.282

[62] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.337

[63] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.338-339

[64] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.421

[65] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.421

[66] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.421

[67] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.338

[68] Ibid. Pfanz Gettysburg: The First Day p.306

[69] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.46

[70] Ibid. Longacre Pickett p.13

[71] Ibid. Longacre Pickett p.13

[72] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.88

[73] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.178

[74] Ibid. Krick, Three Confederate Disasters on Oak Ridge: p.96

[75] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.23

[76] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.47

[77] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.178

[78] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.87

[79] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.342

[80] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.50

[81] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.196

[82] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.343

[83] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.129

[84] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.343

[85] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.78

[86] Ibid. Robertson General A.P. Hill p.196

[87] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.553

[88] Krick, Robert K. Three Confederate Disasters on Oak Ridge: Failures of Brigade Leadership on the First Day of Gettysburg in The First Day at Gettysburg edited by Gallagher, Gary W. Kent State University Press, Kent Ohio 1992

[89] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.354

[90] Ibid. Krick Three Confederate Disasters on Oak Ridge p.101

[91] Ibid. Dowdy. Lee and His Men at Gettysburg p.87

[92] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.349

[93] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.350

[94] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.349

[95] Ibid. Tagg The Generals of Gettysburg p.350

[96] Ibid. Sears Gettysburg p.55

[97] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.134

[98] Ibid. Pfanz Gettysburg: The First Day p.118

[99] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.134

[100] Ibid. Freeman Lee’s Lieutenants p.529

[101] Ibid. Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion p.134

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