The Confederate cavalry in the Gettysburg campaign.
I. By John S. Mosby, Colonel, C. S. A.It is generally agreed by Southern writers that the battle of Gettysburg was the result of an accidental collision of armies. General Lee in effect says in his report of the campaign that his failure was due to his ignorance of the movements of the enemy; and the absence of a portion of the cavalry under Stuart, or rather its separation from the army, is assigned as the primary cause of its failure by General Long, the biographer of Lee, and by General Longstreet. Both ignore the fact that Stuart left with General Lee, under command of General Beverly H. Robertson, a larger body of cavalry than he took with him. General Long charges that Stuart's expedition around Hooker was made either from “a misapprehension of orders or love of the eclat of a bold raid” (which, of course, implies disobedience); and General Longstreet, while admitting that Stuart may have acted by authority of Lee, says that it was undertaken against his own orders, which were to cross the Potomac at Shepherdstown, west of the Blue Ridge. That General Lee was greatly embarrassed by want of intelligence of the movements of the enemy was not due to the lack of cavalry; and Stuart is not responsible for the inefficient manner in which Lee was served. When it was determined that Stuart should take three brigades of cavalry to join Ewell on the Susquehanna and leave his other two to perform out-post duty for the army in Virginia, General Lee was in the Shenandoah Valley with the corps of Hill and Longstreet. The latter was holding the gaps and Stuart was guarding the approaches to them east of the ridge. Hence Stuart came under Longstreet's orders. Hooker's headquarters were in Fairfax, with his army spread out like a fan — his left being at Thoroughfare Gap and his right on the Potomac at Leesburg. On returning from a scout, I reported to Stuart the scattered condition of Hooker's corps, and he determined, with the approval of General Lee, to pass around, or rather through, them, as the shortest route to Ewell. There was an opportunity besides to inflict much damage and to cut off communication between Washington and the North. I have lately discovered documents in the archives of the War Department that set at rest the question of Stuart's alleged disobedience of orders. and show that General Longstreet then approved a plan which he now condemns as “a wild ride around the Federal army.” He directed Stuart to pass around the rear of the enemy in preference to crossing west of the ridge, in order to prevent disclosing our designs.1 Under date of June 22d, 7:30 P. M., he writes to General Lee: “I have forwarded your letter to General Stuart, with the suggestion that he pass by the enemy's rear if he thinks he may get through.” Up to the morning of June 25th it was perfectly practicable for Stuart to have done so. In accordance with Lee's and Longstreet's instructions  Stuart withdrew from the front on the evening of the 24th to pass around Hooker, leaving Robertson about Middleburg with 3000 cavalry and 2 batteries of artillery to observe the enemy. Stuart's success depended upon preserving the status quo of the Federal army until he could get through it. Hooker was on the defensive waiting for his adversary to move. It did not seem to occur to General Longstreet that the march of the infantry down the Shenandoah Valley would disclose all to the enemy that the cavalry would have done. It was no fault of Stuart's that he was foiled by events which he could not control. When on the morning of the 25th he reached Hooker's rear, he found his whole army moving to the Potomac and all the roads occupied by his troops. This compelled a wide detour, and instead of crossing the river in advance of the enemy, as he had expected, he was two days behind him. Thus all communication was broken with Generals Lee and Ewell. The march of Hill's and Longstreet's corps on the day before had been in full view of the signal stations on Maryland Heights and was telegraphed to Hooker, who made a corresponding movement. On the morning of June 26th the enemy disappeared from Robertson's front and crossed the Potomac. In that event his instructions from Stuart were, “to watch the enemy and harass his rear — to cross the Potomac and follow the army, keeping on its right and rear,” and to “report any-thing of importance to Lieutenant-General Longstreet, with whose position you will communicate by relays through Charlestown.” Robertson retired to the mountain gaps and remained until the afternoon of the 29th, when he was recalled to the army by a courier from General Lee. At night on the 28th General Lee heard, through a scout at Chambersburg, of Hooker's advance. As no information of it had come from the cavalry he had left in Hooker's front in Virginia, he thought that Hooker was still there. He immediately issued an order for the concentration at Gettysburg, and sent for Robertson's command, that had been left, he says, to hold the mountain passes, “as long as the enemy remained south of the Potomac.” It had staid there three days after they had gone. As Stuart had been ordered to Ewell on the Susquehanna, it could not have been expected that he should also watch Hooker on the Potomac. Stuart's instructions to divide the cavalry and take three brigades with him to Ewell, on the Susquehanna, were peremptory; he was only given discretion as to the point of crossing the Potomac. It was therefore immaterial, so far as giving information to Lee was concerned, whether he crossed east or west of the ridge. In either event they would have been separated and out of communication with each other. Lee must then have relied on Robertson or nobody to watch Hooker. Instead of keeping on the right of the army and in close contact with the enemy, as Stuart had ordered, Robertson's command marched on the left by Martinsburg and did not reach the battle-field. The rear-guard of the Federal army moving into Pennsylvania crossed the Potomac on June 26th, east of the Blue Ridge; Robertson crossed at Williamsport, about twenty-five miles to the west of it, on July 1st, the day the fighting began at Gettysburg. When General Lee crossed the Potomac, he left General Robertson between him and the enemy. By July 3d Robertson had so manoeuvred that Lee was between him and the enemy. Stuart had ridden around General Hooker while Robertson was riding around General Lee. If, in accordance with Stuart's instructions, Robertson had promptly followed on the right of the army when the enemy left, Lee's forces would have been concentrated and ready for attack; a defensive battle would have been fought, and Gettysburg might have been to Southern hearts something more than a “Glorious field of grief.” Washington, Feb. 9th, 1887.
II. by Beverly H. Robertson, Brigadier-General, C. S. A.Colonel John S. Mosby has seen proper to make mention of my command in the cavalry of the Army of Northern Virginia during the Gettysburg campaign, and as a means of defending General J. E. B. Stuart from an imaginary attack, has misrepresented a portion of General Stuart's cavalry. Colonel Mosby knows very little of Stuart's character if he supposes that so true a soldier would have silently passed over such disobedience of orders as Colonel Mosby imputes to me. The fact that Colonel Mosby has “lately discovered documents in the archives” at Washington, which are to “set at rest” something that has not been set in motion, will not excuse him for attempting in 1887 to prove by argument that in 1863 Stuart did not know whether I had obeyed his orders in the Gettysburg campaign. The orders left with me by General Stuart, dated June 24th, were exactly obeyed by me, to his entire satisfaction as well as to that of General R. E. Lee. These orders embraced the duty of holding Ashby's and Snicker's gaps, to prevent Hooker from interrupting the march of Lee's army; and “in case of a move by the enemy on Warrenton,” to counteract it if possible. I was also ordered when I withdrew from the gaps to “withdraw to the west side of the Shenandoah,” to cross the Potomac where Lee crossed, and to “follow the army, keeping on its right and rear.” The full text of my orders was as follows:
The only road by which the orders (which particularly specified the avoidance of “turnpikes” on account of the difficulty and delay of shoeing horses) could be complied with, carried my command to Martinsburg; at which place, and not in the gaps of the mountatins, as Colonel Mosby insinuates, a courier from General Lee met me. My command was hurried from there to Chambersburg, and thence by forced march, on the night of July 2d, to Cashtown, where it arrived at about 10 A. M. on July 3d. Ascertaining at Cashtown that General Pleasonton was moving from Emmitsburg directly on the baggage and ammunition trains of General Lee's army, which were exposed to his attack without defense of any kind, I pressed forward with my command and intercepted the advance of General Pleasonton, under the command of Major Samuel H. Starr. A severe and gallant fight was made at Fairfield, in which Major Starr of the 6th United States Regular Cavalry was wounded and captured with a large portion of his staff, while his regiment was severely damaged. Adjutant John Allan and three others of the 6th Virginia Cavalry were killed, 19 were wounded, and 5 were reported missing. That fight at Fairfield, on the last day of the fighting at Gettysburg, refutes the imputation intended by Colonel Mosby to be conveyed in his remark that my command “did not reach the battle-field.” From that fight at Fairfield I was ordered by General R. E. Lee to cover his wagon trains, and in obeying the same my command was engaged in repeated skirmishes, particularly at Funkstown and Hagerstown, after which it returned to Virginia — the last command that recrossed the Potomac. If there existed the least ground for Colonel Mosby's statements, there would be found among the reports of general officers some reference to the imputed dereliction of duty on my part. As no such reference is made, and no imputation of disobedience of orders is there intimated, it may be assumed that neither Stuart nor Lee had any reason to complain of my command. 
|Buforo's cavalry opposing the Confederate advance upon Gettysburg.|