An Aide-De-Camp of Lee
Charles Marshall

[Notes: Chapter 10]

1 This was a portion of Sedgwick’s corps which Hooker threw across the river in an endeavor to discover what Lee was doing.

2 Jenkins’s cavalry brigade had been ordered to join Ewell.

3 This was an order directing that all supplies should be purchased by duly authorized persons, and forbidding looting.

4 The portion of Longstreet’s corps which had turned back to help Stuart at Ashby’s Gap.

5 This must have been in the missing letter from Lee to Longstreet. There is no mention of Hopewell Gap or of passing by the rear of the enemy in Lee’s letter to Stuart.

6 These were the fatal words. Lee certainly meant that Stuart was to cross immediately east of the mountains, so as to be close to the right flank of the army. Stuart interpreted the words to mean that he might cross anywhere east of the mountains.

7 The letter of the 22nd had covered the case of the enemy moving northward.

8 Early commanded Swell’s right division.

9 Lee’s Gettysburg dispatch is dated January, 1864.

10 This scout’s name was Harrison. Longstreet had sent him off to Washington before the army left Fredericksburg, with a good supply of money, to gather information. Battles and Leaders, vol. II, p. 249.

11 Four corps of Hooker’s army had crossed the Potomac on June 25th.

12 Marshall evidently means by this, “finding that he could not pass round the rear of the enemy and rejoin the right of Lee’s army quickly.” Stuart did in fact pass round Hooker’s rear, but could not get into touch with Lee until July 1st.

13 I agree entirely with Colonel Marshall that the wanderings of Stuart’s cavalry were, from the Confederate point of view, the decisive factor in the Gettysburg campaign. I agree also that it was Lee’s intention to have had Stuart on his right during his march through Pennsylvania, and that Stuart should have appreciated both that such was Lee’s intention and the vital importance of giving effect to it. Still, it is not possible for the impartial critic to absolve either Lee or his staff entirely from blame in the matter. It is evident that Lee in his conversation with Stuart and Longstreet had given a conditional assent to the proposed movement round Hooker’s rear. On thinking the matter over, he came to the conclusion that such a movement might prevent Stuart from taking his place in the right flank of the army. He therefore directed the letters of the 22nd and 23rd to Stuart to be written and sent. The letter of the 23rd provided for Stuart’s action, (1) if Hooker remained inactive; (2) if Hooker did not move northwards. Neither of these cases arose, as Hooker did cross the Potomac promptly.

The letter of the 22nd provided for the case which arose of Hooker’s moving northwards. But this letter was sent through Longstreet, who added to it suggestions which, following on Stuart’s conversation with Lee, evidently confused the mind of the cavalry commander and let him suppose that if Hooker moved north he was free to ride round the Federal rear if he could. Longstreet could not know all that was in Lee’s mind, and it would have been better, since Lee proposed to use Stuart for the purpose of protecting and getting information for his whole army, to have first ascertained from Longstreet whether the three brigades of Stuart’s cavalry could have been spared from Ashby’s Gap, and, on receiving Longstreet’s reply in the affirmative, to have given Stuart his orders direct, and thus have avoided the intervention of an intermediary, which is always liable to cause confusion and misunderstanding.

Finally, in view of the great importance which Lee attached to having Stuart on his flank, it would have been better to have told Stuart specifically that if he crossed the Potomac east of the Blue Ridge at all it must be by the fords near themountains, so that he could rejoin the army quickly.

Colonel Marshall gives us here much the fullest account which has yet appeared of the most vital incident in the Gettysburg campaign, and the general conclusion to be drawn from his story is that military orders cannot be too simple, clear, and definite.