by Andy Mateja

Much has been written in recent years to deflect attention away from Longstreet and his direct involvement in the Confederate loss as Gettysburg. JEB Stuart , and his ill-fated raid has been cited as another reason for the loss due to Stuart’s supposed failure to provide Lee with crucial information about enemy troop movements which caused Lee to blunder into the battle.

In no way did Stuarts raid deprive Lee of cavalry needed to monitor Hooker’s (and later Meade’s) movements. – only competent officers in charge of the remaining cavalry brigades to relay that information to Lee.

Lee approved Stuart’s plan stating that if Hooker’s army remains inactive, you can leave two brigades to watch him and withdraw with the three others. Lee wanted Stuart that after crossing the Potomac, he should feel out for the right of Ewell’s troops, collecting information and provisions, and to give instructions to the two remaining brigade commanders (Robertson’s and Jone’s) to watch Hooker’s flank and rear and if they start to move, withdraw through the mountain passes and close upon the rear of the Army of Northern Virginia. Lee had earlier recommended to Stuart that he collect all the supplies he can for the use of the army.

Longstreet felt that Stuart’s raid would disclose Lee’s plans even though Union signalmen on Maryland Heights observed Lee’s crossing of the Potomac on June 23rd – TWO 2 days before Stuart began his move.

While Stuart miscalculated the amount of time required to accomplish is goals and was delayed first by Hancock’s II Corps blocking his initial route and later capturing an 8-mile supply train (following Lee’s recommendations), his arrival at Gettysburg on July 1st instead of the afternoon of July 2nd would not have changed the outcome of the battle and prevented Heth’s initiation of the battle.

Lee had two brigades at his disposal (Robertson’s and Jone’s) and Ewell had Jenkins cavalry brigade throughout the entire movement of his army.

And if Longstreet’s memoirs are to be believed, the spy Harrison informed Longstreet and Lee of Hooker’s northward movements on June 28th THREE days before the battle began.

The fault lay with the way the battle was conducted not the lead up to it. While Ewell did not perform admirably during his first day of battlefield corps command, the chance for victory redemption was squandered by Longstreet the next day when he opposed Lee’s attack plan and deliberately moved his columns at a snails pace and missed the opportunity of taking Little Round Top without resistance. The difference here was that Longstreet WAS a seasoned corps commander and understood what Lee wanted him to do through numerous conversations between July 1st and 2nd.