It must also be acknowledged, I think, that Stuart
erred in judgment again in the course he took after he had brought his five thousand horsemen across the Potomac
during the night of June 27th.
Instead of proceeding, ‘with all dispatch’ to join Ewell
, he stopped to break up the canal, to intercept and capture boats (at least a dozen of them), and burn them.
He also captured a great wagon train and ‘took it along.’
Some of the teamsters were chased into the suburbs of Washington
That was on the morning of the 28th.
These proceedings consumed valuable time that should have been devoted to marching to Ewell
By that time Lee
was at Chambersburg
had already been one day at Carlisle
Was it not Stuart
's duty to make all speed to overtake Ewell
, as three precious days had been lost?
And could he do this encumbered by captured wagon trains?
It is about 75 or 80 miles from Seneca ford to York
, which could readily have been covered by Stuart
's horsemen in two marches if that was his objective.
He knew that Hooker
had crossed the Potomac
and was marching northward.
Then would it not seem that his supreme purpose should have been to march day and night and to place himself in communication with Ewell
, and be at hand for whatever service his cavalry could render?
He does not seem to have been of that opinion, for he had only gone as far as Westminster
by the evening of the 29th.
is about 50 miles or less from Seneca ford, where he had crossed.
Had he pressed on the morning of the 28th, he could easily have reported to General Early
(30 miles farther), before nightfall of the 29th, not long after that officer received orders to march to Cashtown
, or certainly before day break of the 30th.
In either case he would not have made the fruitless march to Carlisle
on July the 1st, but would have marched with Early
on the 30th, and would almost certainly have been interposed between the enemy and the infantry of Early
, and would thus probably have prevented the battle from being precipitated by Hill
on the morning of July 1st.
Since writing the above, I find that Col. Henderson
reached the same conclusion.
See his ‘Science of War,’ p. 289.