Would not have crossed.
What General Lee
would have done, had he known the facts fully instead of being compelled to act upon the imperfect information of the scout, is a question open to speculation, for General Lee
never disclosed what were his plans in contingencies that never arose.
But had he known that Meade
's army was moving—the left wing, composed of three corps—through Emmetsburg
, and the other four moving on lines east of that route and kept within easy supporting distance, the 12th and 2d Corps directed upon Gettysburg
, the 5th upon Hanover
, and the 6th to Manchester
, to be a general reserve to the whole, it is almost positively certain that he would not have crossed his army over the mountain.
The Union correspondence may throw some light to guide the speculations of those inclined to construct a theory based upon probabilities.
, commanding in that department, with headquarters at Harrisburg
, wrote to the Secretary of War
June 29th (page 407): ‘I hold from Altoona
along the Juniata
to Conowingo bridge above Havre-de-Grace (a distance of more than 200 miles). My whole force organized is, perhaps, 16,000 men. 5000 regulars can whip them all to pieces in an open field.
I am afraid they will ford the river in its present state.’
Again, on the same day, to General Meade
: ‘I have only 15,000 men, such as they are, on my whole line—say 9,000 here.’
, wrote to Secretary E. M. Staunton
July 1st (page 478): ‘This is a difficult place to defend, as the river is fordable both above and below,’ and proceeds to comment upon the ‘want of artillery and especially of practiced artillerists,’ and the deficiency of cavalry, and concludes: ‘The excitement here is not so great as I found it in Philadelphia
, and the people begin to understand that the fate of this city depends entirely upon the results of the operations of the Army of the Potomac.’