Major General James Ewell Brown Stuart

James Ewell Brown "Jeb" Stuart was in command of the Cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia on 1 July 1863. James Longstreet described (Wert, General James Longstreet) Stuart as being "endowed by nature with the gifts that go to make a perfect cavalryman." Historians (e.g., McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom) argue that because he was embarassed at being caught napping at Brandy Station on 9 June, by Alfred Pleasonton's Union Cavalry with Strong Vincent's brigade in support, and, to 'regain his honor,' Stuart executed one of his patented rides around the Union lines during the invasion of the North. This extended raid put him out of communication with Robert E. Lee, and is said to have forced the Army of Northern Virginia to move through Pennsylvania without much needed military intelligence. More recently, Daniel Zimmerman has argued that Stuart was following instructions that were murky at best. Quoting Lee's orders to Stuart:

If you find that he [Joseph Hooker] 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 for the use of the army. [Zimmerman, America's Civil War, p. 51, May 1998]

And, while leaving a sufficient cavalry force to monitor the movements of the Army of the Potomac, the officers he left were not skilled enough to do so successfully. Thus while Stuart "was not necessarily blameless, he had a great deal of company."

On 3 July, Stuart's cavalry was posted to the east of Gettysburg with orders to cut off any Union retreat and to cause general turmoil. There they were checked by David McM. Gregg's Second Cavalry Division and George Armstrong Custer's 1st Michigan Brigade from Judson Kilpatrick's horse division.

Back to Little Round Top Back to Cemetery Hill

Photo Credit: Library of Congerss
Created 26 MAY 1996 , Modified 24 JUL 2014