Not unfavorable conditions.
It so happened that Hill
was just where he should have been to observe the movements of Meade
's army and to guard the passes through the mountains.
Longstreet at Chambersburg
, midway between the two wings, was in easy supporting distance of either of them.
, with his three brigades of cavalry, would have rejoined
the army on July 1st, for on the morning of that day he reached Dover
and in the afternoon Carlisle
It must have been, however, with great reluctance that General Lee
would adopt a line of action predicated upon Stuart
, for it might be for aught he knew that he had met with a disaster, or been driven back into Virginia
Because General Lee
preferred to operate with his army in Pennsylvania
until compelled to accept defensive battle with the Army of the Potomac, it by no means follows that an aggressive battle, in which he attacked the enemy as they were assembling, must be unsuccessful, or even that the conditions were necessarily favorable to the enemy.
The results of the first and second days' fighting establish this fact; for, though lacking the important qualities of rapidity of movements and promptness of action, they were so favorable to General Lee
as to warrant the belief that the third day would result in the total defeat of the enemy.
By the light of facts now known from the records, reasonable promptness of action and better co-ordination between the two wings of the army would have secured a complete victory on the second day. The responsibility for the (as it proved to be) fatal delays has led to much crimination and recrimination.
The third day's fighting on the right was a miserable failure, because it was so conducted that, in fact, it was divided into two separate and distinct battles, the first fought by artillery without any infantry, and the second by infantry without any artillery.
And yet, in spite of the unnecessary delays and want of co-operation on the second day, and the gross mismanagement of the fighting on the third day, the killed, wounded and missing on the Confederate
side were not as great as that on the Union
side, and the disparity between the numbers in the two armies at the beginning had been almost obliterated by the fighting, for General Meade
reported July 4th that the strength of his army (infantry and artillery), equipped, was only 55,000, and General Lee
's numbers could not have been much less.