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[222]

There can be no doubt that the march of Stuart's horsemen was seriously impeded by the captured wagon train which he ‘took along.’1 Col. Mosby admits (p. 191), that he might have reached York on the 30th instead of July the 1st, if he had burned the wagons. He crossed the river the night of the 27th, and York is about 80 miles from the ford. More important is the statement of General Stuart himself in his report in more than one place. Thus, on p. 695, Rebellion Records, Vol. XVII, he says, speaking of the engagement at Hanover:

‘If my command had been well closed now, this column would have been at our mercy; but, owing to the great elongation of the column, by reason of the 200 wagons and hilly roads, Hampton was a long way behind, and Lee was not yet heard from on the left.’

Again on page 696, he says:

‘Our wagon train was now a subject of serious embarrassment, but I thought by making a detour of the right by Jefferson, I could save it.’

Two possibilities were eliminated by the drag put on General Stuart's column by the captured wagon train: 1. But for the delay thus occasioned he might have marched from Westminster to Gettysburg by Littletown, as apparently he hoped to do. for he could have reached Westminster certainly by the morning of the 29th, instead of at sundown (for that place is only 45 or 50 miles from Seneca ford), and at that earlier hour he probably would not have found the Federal Cavalry on that road.2 That cavalry reached Littletown during the night of

1 This is also the judgment of Gen. E. P. Alexander, who says, page 375, ‘In saving a large number of wagons instead of burning them, and in delaying twelve hours to parole his prisoners instead of bringing along the officers and letting the men go, Stuart committed fatal blunders.’ And he adds, ‘The delay caused to subsequent marches by the long wagon train and the embarrassment of protecting it, was responsible for the loss of time, which made, on the whole, a sad failure of the expedition.’

2 In his report Gen. Stuart says he reached Westminster at 5 P. M. and camped at Union Mills, midway between Westminster and Littletown, on the Gettysburg road (p. 695). Scouts reported that the Federal cavalry had reached Littletown during the night. But for this it would appear Stuart would have marched to Gettysburg. Instead he marched to Hanover. Gen. Kilpatrick in his report says ‘Stuart was making for Littletown.’

Gen. E. P. Alexander, in his important work, p. 375, says that had Gen. Stuart's column ‘here followed the direct road via Littletown to Gettysburg, only about sixteen miles away, it could have occupied Gettysburg before 11 A. M. on the 30th, when it would have found itself in good position in front of Lee's army, then concentrated at Cashtown.’ And he adds that in that case ‘Lee's army would have occupied some strong position between Cashtown and Gettysburg, and the onus of attack would have been on the Federals, as had been the plan of the campaign.’

It would have been natural for Gen. Stuart to make Gettysburg his objective, for in his report he says he had been instructed that one column of our army would move ‘by Gettysburg.’ His language is not conclusive as to whether he had meant to march by Littletown and Gettysburg, but it is a natural inference from what he says that but for the news that during the night of the 29th the Federal cavalry had reached Littletown, he would have marched to that place and so on to Gettysburg. But for that unnecessary and fatal delay he would have been at Littletown before the Federals, and could have reached Gettysburg by the early morning of the 30th.

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