There can be but one opinion of the fighting qualities of General Stuart
's command at Gettysburg
Those who opposed his attempt to reach the rear of the Union
lines, have every reason to remember the valor and intrepidity of his troopers.
But in Gregg
, he had “a Roland for his Oliver
,” and in a fair fight, in an open field, with no surprise on the one side or the other, he was, in plain language, simply defeated in all that he undertook to accomplish-and the more one seeks for the truth on this subject the more certainly must he come to this conclusion.
I was not aware, until I had read Major McClellan
's article, before alluded to, that there had been a claim to a victory over Gregg
, at Gettysburg
, made by Stuart
The results of the battle were so overwhelmingly on the side of Gregg
, it would seem, that the blindest prejudice alone could construe the victory to his opponent.
describes the charge of one of W. H. F. Lee
's regiments and a portion of Fitz Lee
's command, including the First Virginia Cavalry, as very successful-“the enemy's masses vanished before them like grain before the scythe;” but he adds, “their impetuosity carried them too far,” “their horses, already jaded,” “failed under it.”
“The First North Carolina Cavalry and Jeff Davis Legion were sent to their support, and gradually this hand-to-hand fighting involved the greater portion of the command,” etc. Here is a half hidden acknowledgment that after the first charge, which Gregg
admits was not successfully met by the Seventh Michigan Regiment, the attacking column was obliged to retire before the charge of the First Michigan Regiment.
The difference between the reports of the two commanders here being that Stuart
mentions the repulse in the mildest language, while Gregg
writes of it in glowing terms: “The advantage gained in this charge was soon wrested from the enemy by the gallant charge of the First Michigan Cavalry of the same brigade.
This regiment drove the enemy back to his starting point.”
There remains only to consider the statement made by each general that his opponent was in the end obliged to withdraw.
says: “Defeated at every point, the enemy withdrew to his left.”
“Heavy skirmishing was still maintained by the Third Pennsylvania Cavalry with the enemy, and was continued until nightfall.”
“The enemy retired his columns behind his artillery, and at dark withdrew from his former position;” and on this subject Stuart
writes: “Gradually this hand-to-hand fighting involved the greater portion of the command, till the enemy was driven from the field, which was now raked by their artillery, posted about three-quarters ”