Saturday, March 8, 2008

Part Two - Gettysburg - Timeline of Events

Since Stuart's critics and defender refer to the events that occurred between June 18 and July 1, 1863, a chronology must be included to help the reader better understand the charges and countercharges. This timeline will be composed from The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion and other pertinent sources.

After the AOP was defeated at the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1 through 3, 1863), "Hooker (commanding general AOP from January 26, 1863 to June 28, 1863) reoccupied the ground north of the Rappahannock (River), opposite Fredericksburg, where it could not be attacked excepting at a disadvantage." (4) In order to move Hooker off the ground, Lee decided to "transfer the hostilities beyond the Potomac," (5) the river marking the boundary between Virginia and Maryland. He put his troops into movement, and they begin the slow march norther. This movement was mirrored by Hooker, who kept his army between the ANV and Washington.

June 18: Lee is aware the AOP is moving toward the Upper Potomac but is not sure where they plan to cross the river. (6)

June 22: (Morning) Stuart submits "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 the Bull Run Mountains, attain the enemy's rear, passing between his main body and Washington, and cross into Maryland, joining our army north of the Potomac." (7)

(Morning) Lee sends the following letter to Lieutenant General Richard S. Ewell, Commander, Second Corps: "[...] it will depend upon the quantity of supplies obtained in that country whether the rest of the army can follow. Your progress and direction will, of course, depend upon the development of circumstances. If Harrisburg (Pennsylvania's capitol) comes within your means, capture it." (8)

(Afternoon) Lee sends Stuart the following order via Longstreet: "General: I have just received your note of 7:45 this morning to General Longstreet. 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 (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 flanks, keep him informed of the enemy's movement, and collect all the supplies you can for the use of the army. One column of General Ewell's army will probably move toward the Susquehanna by the Emmitsburg route; another by Chambersburg. Accounts from him last night state that there was no enemy west of Frederick. A cavalry force (about 100) guarded the Monocacy Bridge, (Monocacy River is a tributary of the Potomac River located in Maryland) which was barricaded. You will, of course, take charge of Jenkins' brigade, and give him necessary instructions. All supplies taken in Maryland must be authorized by staff officers for their respective departments -- by no one else. They will be paid for, or receipts for the same given to owners. I will send you a general order on this subject (No. 72), which I wish to see it strictly complied with." (9)

(7:00 p.m.) Longstreet forwards Lee's orders to Stuart with this note: "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 you leaving via Hopewell Gap and passing by the rear of the enemy. If you can get through by that route, I think you will be less likely to indicate what our plans are than if you should cross to our rear. I forward the letter of instructions with these suggestions.

"Please advice me of the condition of affairs before you leave, and order General Hampton -- whom I suppose you will leave here in command -- to report to me at Millwood, either by letter or in person, as may be most agreeable to him.

N.B. -- I think that your passage of the Potomac by our rear at the present moment, will in a measure, disclose our plans. You have better not leave us, therefore, unless you can take the proposed route in rear of the enemy." (10)

June 23: Lee writes to Confederate President Jefferson Davis: "Reports of movements of the enemy east of Blue Ridge cause me to believe he is preparing to cross the Potomac. A pontoon bridge is said to be laid at Edward's Ferry, and his army corps that the has advanced to Leesburg and the foot of the mountains, appear to be withdrawing..." (11)

(5:00 p.m.) Lee sends the following order to Stuart: "General: Your notes of 9 and 10:30 a.m. today have just been received. As regards to the purchase of tobacco for your men, supposing that Confederate money will not be taken, I am willing for your commissaries or quartermasters to purchase this tobacco and let the men get it from them, but I can have nothing seized by the men.

"If General Hooker's army remains inactive, you can leave two brigades to watch him and withdraw with the three others, but should he appear not to be moving northward, I think you had better withdraw this side of the mountain tomorrow night (6/24), cross at Shepardstown the next day, and move over to Fredericktown.

"You will, however, will be able to judge whether you can pass around the army without hindrance, doing 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.

"Give instructions to the commander of the brigades left behind, to watch the flank and rear of the army, and (in the event of the enemy leaving their front) retire the mountain west of the Shenandoah, leaving sufficient pickets to guard the passes, and bringing everything clean along the Valley, closing upon the rear of the army... I think the sooner you cross into Maryland, after tomorrow, the better." (12)

(Late Night) Stuart receives another letter from Lee. This order is not located in The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, but details from it appear in both Stuart's and Lee's official reports. Throughout the controversy, its presence has been acknowledged, even while its importance has been discredited by Stuart's critics. Major Henry B. McClelllan, Stuart's chief-of-staff discusses opening the order in his biography of Stuart:

"The letter discussed at considerable length the plan of passing around the enemy's rear. It informed General Stuart that General Early (commanding a division in the Second Corps) would move upon York, Pa., and that he was desired to place his cavalry as speedily as possible with that, the advance of Lee's right wing.

"The letter suggested that, as the roads leading northward from Shepherdstown and Williamsport were already encumbered by the infantry, the artillery, and the transportation of the army, the delay which would necessarily occur in passing by these would, perhaps be greater than would ensue if General Stuart passed around the enemy's rear. The letter further informed him that, if he chose the later route, General Early would receive instructions to look out for him and endeavor to communicate with him; and York, Pa., was designated as the point in the vicinity of which he was expected to hear from Early, and as the possible (if not probable) point of concentration of the army. The whole tenor of the letter gave evidence that the commanding general approved of the proposed movement, and thought it might be productive of the best results, while the responsibility of the decision was placed upon General Stuart himself." (13)

June 24: Stuart sends the following order to Brigadier General Beverly Robinson, left in command of the two brigades in the gaps along the Blue Ridge.

"General, Your own and General Jones' brigades will cover the front of the Ashby's and Snicker's Gaps, yourself, as senior officer, being in command.

"Your object will be to watch the enemy; deceive him as to our designs; and harass his rear if you find he is retiring. [...]

"After the enemy has moved beyond your reach, leave sufficient pickets in the mountains, withdraw to the west side of the Shenandoah, place a strong and reliable picket to watch the enemy at Harper's Ferry, cross the Potomac and follow the army, keeping on its right and rear.

"As long as the enemy remains in your front in force, unless 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.

"If, in the contingency mentioned, you withdraw, sweep the Valley clear of what pertains to the army, and cross the Potomac at the different points crossed by it.

"You will instruct General Jones from time to time as the movements progress, or events may require, and report anything of importance to Lieutenant General Longstreet, with whose position you will communicate by relays through Charlestown..." (14)

Lee puts Longstreet's First Corps and Lieutenant General Ambrose Powell (A.P.) Hill's Third Corps into motion.

June 25: (1:00 a.m.) Cavalry is assembled at Salem Depot and departs under the cover of night to hide the movement from the enemy, who is in possession of the Bull Run Mountains.

(Day) At Haymarket, Stuart finds the AOP's Second Corps clogging the road as it marches north and swings four miles south to Buckland. He sends scouts to ascertain if he can pass through the Bull Run Mountains by another gap. The answer is affirmative. Stuart marches to Wolf Run Shoals.

June 28: (Midnight) Stuart crosses the Potomac. During the day he captures 125 wagons, mules, and harnesses. He destroys telegram wires and disrupts the AOP's communications.

(Night) A spy, hired by Longstreet before the army leaves the Rappahannock, brings Lee word that the Union army has crossed the Potomac and is in Maryland, approximately 33 miles from Lee's army.

Union Movements - General Hooker is replaced by Major General George G. Meade.

June 29: (Morning) Lee sends word to Ewell to return to Cashtown, a march of approximately 40 miles. Hill is advanced to Cashtown, eight miles from Gettysburg. Lee issues orders that a general engagement should be avoided until the army is consolidated.

Union Movements - Meade's left is at Emmitsburg, 15 miles from Gettysburg and his right is at New Windsor, 31 miles away. Two cavalry brigades are chasing Stuart. The Sixth Corps, Meade's largest, is left in the rear to guard Washington from Stuart.

June 30: Stuart is at Hanover, Pennsylvania (25 miles from York) and battles with troops sent from Harrisburg (to interrupt Lee's communications) and Union cavalry. General Early, returning to Cashtown, hears and recognizes Stuart's guns. He sends no runner to inform Stuart that the army is being consolidated at Cashtown. (15) To save the wagon train, Stuart detours ten miles through Jefferson on his way to York. Upon arrival, he finds no sign of the army. Ewell has left no word of his whereabouts. Reading the newspapers and interrogating citizens causes Stuart to believe Ewell must be closer to the Susquehanna. He heads toward Dover seventeen miles away.

(Morning) Pettigrew's brigade of Heth's Division, Third Corps, advances on Gettysburg. Rumor has it that the small town is occupied by local militia. Pettigrew skirmishes with Federal cavalry. He also hears the sound of infantry drums not far from town. Hill sends word to Lee.

(Evening) Hill sends a message to Ewell relaying his plans to reconnoiter his front in the morning to develop the strength of the enemy at Gettysburg.

Union Movement - The Union left remains at Emmitsburg, but Meade's right is spread out between Manchester, approximately 25 miles from Gettysburg, to the First Corps' encampment six miles south of Gettysburg. Brigadier General John Buford and his cavalry enter the town.

July 1: (Morning) Disbelieving Pettigrew's reports that Federal cavalry occupies Gettysburg, Major General Henry Heth takes his division and an artillery battalion and marches on the town to collect supplies. Three miles west of Gettysburg, Heth battles with Buford.

Union Movement - Major General John Reynolds receives word from Buford that he is under attack. He hurries his First Corps to Gettysburg and sends word for Major General Oliver Howard to march his Eleventh Corps to the battle as quickly as possible. Reynolds in killed. Howard arrives on the field at 11:30 a.m. and takes command.

(Afternoon) Between 1:00 and 2:00 p.m., Ewell arrives via the Harrisburg and Carlisle Roads. He drives the Union army through Gettysburg and onto the heights east of the town. Lee reaches the field at about 3:00 p.m.

Union Movement - Upon the death of Reynolds, Meade sends Major General Winfield Scott Hancock (Second Corps) to take command and evaluate the ground. Hancock arrives without his corps around 3:00 p.m. and decides to fight at Gettysburg. The Twelfth and Third Corps arrive at 7:00 p.m.

July 2: (Midnight) Lee sends words to Stuart at Carlisle to return to Gettysburg. Stuart detaches a portion of Hampton's brigade and sends it to Lee. This small force arrives before dawn.

Union Movement - The Fifth and Second Corps arrive at 7:00 a.m. The Sixth Corps arrives at 2:00 p.m.

(4) Robert E. Lee, General. "Official Campaign Report, January 20, 1864." The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Volume 27, Part II, pages 313-325.
(5) Ibid.
(6) Ibid.
(7) J.E.B. Stuart, Major General. "Official Campaign Report, August 20, 1863." The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Volume 27, Part II, pages 687-710.
(8) Robert E. Lee, General. "Dispatch to General Richard S. Ewll, June 22, 1863." The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Volume 27, Part III, 914.
(9) Robert E. Lee, General. "Dispatch to General J.E.B. Stuart, June 22, 1863." The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Volume 27, Part III, 913.
(10) James Longstreet, Lieutenant General. "Dispatch to General J.E.B. Stuart, June 22, 1863." The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Volume 27, Part III, 915.
(11) Lee. "Official Campaign Report, January 20, 1864." pages 313-325.
(12) Robert E. Lee, General. "Dispatch to General J.E.B. Stuart, June 23, 1863." The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Volume 27, Part III, 915.
(13) Henry B. McClellan, Major. I Rode With Jeb Stuart. (New York: Da Capo Press. 1994), 317.
(14) J.E.B. Stuart, Major General. "Dispatch to General Beverly Robertson, June 24, 1863. The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Volume 27, Part III, 927.