- Jun 2, 2013
- Columbus, OH
Col. Charles C. Marshall
Wartime Artwork, Artist unknown, PD image
Submitted for your consideration...
These are the three orders given to Jeb Stuart on June 22 and 23, 1863. They constitute the operational orders for what became his expedition. They are as clear as mud. The person responsible for drafting them was R.E. Lee's military secretary, Col. Charles C. Marshall. In an attempt to downplay his own role, Marshall later claimed that Stuart should have been shot for disobeying said orders. Read them for yourself and determine whether Stuart disobeyed them. I will submit to you that if you review them carefully, you will conclude that Stuart, in fact, obeyed them to the letter.
This is the first order, sent to Stuart on June 22, 1863. It was written by Lee's military secretary, Col. Charles Marshall:
HEADQUARTERS, June 22, 1863.
Maj. Gen. J.E.B. Stuart, Commanding Cavalry
I have just received your note of 7. 40 this morning to General Longstreet. I judge the efforts of the enemy yesterday [ERIC'S NOTE: LEE REFERS HERE TO THE JUNE 21, 1863 BATTLE OF UPPERVILLE] were to arrest our progress and ascertain our whereabouts. Perhaps he is satisfied. Do you know where he is and what he is doing? I fear he will steal a march on us, and get across the Potomac before we are aware. If you find that he is moving northward, and that two brigades can guard the Blue Ridge and take care of your rear, you can move with the other three into Maryland, and take position on General Ewell's right, place yourself in communication with him, guard his flank, keep him informed of the enemy's movements, and collect all the supplies you can for the use of the army.
One column of General Ewell's army will probably move toward the Susquehanna by the Emmitsburg route; another by Chambersburg. Accounts from him last night state that there was no enemy west of Frederick. A cavalry force (about 100) guarded the Monocacy Bridge, which was barricaded. You will, of course, take charge of [A. G.] Jenkins' brigade, and give him necessary instructions. All supplies taken in Maryland must be by authorized staff officers for their respective departmentsby no one else. They will be paid for, or receipts for the same given to the owners. I will send you a general order on this subject, which I wish you to see is strictly complied with.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
R. E. LEE,
Longstreet sent this letter with Lee's first order, also dated June, 22, 1863:
June 22, 1863
7 p. m.
Maj. Gen. J. E. B. STUART, Commanding Cavalry:
General Lee has inclosed to me this letter for you, to be forwarded to you, provided you can be spared from my front, and provided I think that you can move across the Potomac without disclosing our plans. He speaks of your leaving, via Hopewell Gap, and passing by the rear of the enemy. If you can get through by that route, I think that you will be less likely to indicate what our plans are than if you should cross by passing to our rear. I forward the letter of instructions with these suggestions.
Please advise me of the condition of affairs before you leave, and order General Hampton,whom I suppose you will leave here in command, to report to me at Millwood, either by letter or in person, as may be most agreeable to him.
P. S. I think that your passage of the Potomac by our rear at the present moment will, in a measure, disclose our plans. You had better not leave us, therefore, unless you caxi take the proposed route in rear of the enemy.
Longstreet conveniently forgot about this order when he wrote his post-war memoirs and blamed Stuart for being "late" to Gettysburg.
Late in the afternoon on June 23, Lee sent a second order, also drafted by Marshall. It's so full of holes that one could drive a truck through them. But this is THE operational order for Stuart's expedition.
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF NORTHERN VIRGINIA,
June 23, 1863
5 p. m.
Maj. Gen. J. E. B. STUART, Commanding Cavalry:
Your notes of 9 and 10.30 a. m. to-day have just been received. As regards the purchase of tobacco for your men, supposing that Confederate money will not be taken, I am willing for your commissaries or quartermasters to purchase this tobacco and let the men get it from them, but I can have nothing seized by the men.
If General Hooker's army remains inactive, you can leave two brigades to watch him, and withdraw with the three others, but should he not appear to be moving northward, I think you had better withdraw this side of the mountain to-morrow night, cross at Shepherdstown next day, and move over to Fredericktown.
You will, however, be able to judge whether you can pass around their army without hinderance, doing them all the damage you can, and cross the river east of the mountains. In either case, after crossing the river, you must move on and feel the right of Ewell's troops, collecting information, provisions, &c.
Give instructions to the commander of the brigades left behind, to watch the flank and rear of the army, and (in the event of the enemy leaving their front) retire from the mountains west of the Shenandoah, leaving sufficient pickets to guard the passes, and bringing everything clean along the Valley, closing upon the rear of the army.
As regards the movements of the two brigades of the enemy moving toward Warrenton, the commander of the brigades to be left in the mountains must do what he can to counteract them, but I think the sooner you cross into Maryland, after to-morrow, the better.
The movements of Ewell's corps are as stated in my former letter. Hill's first division will reach the Potomac to-day, and Longstreet will follow to-morrow.
Be watchful and circumspect in all your movements.
I am, very respectfully and truly, yours,
R. E. LEE,
The commander of the two brigades Lee mentions was Brig. Gen. Beverly H. Robertson, who disobeyed Stuart's very detailed orders. Had he obeyed them, he and two brigades would have been in Chambersburg on June 30, and would have escorted Hill's Corps on July 1. However, Robertson dillydallied and didn't enter Pennsylvania until July 3. The best laid plans of mice and men....
"Fredericktown" is modern-day Frederick, Maryland.
Stuart's very able adjutant, Maj. Henry B. McClellan, later claimed that there was a third, verbal order delivered to Stuart on the night of June 23, but there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. Instead, it seems likely to me that the June 23 written order is what McClellan claimed, since it would have been delivered to Stuart that night. McClellan also claimed that it more or less repeated the June 23 order, which lends further credit to the thought that there was no third order. Personally, I do not believe that there was a third order.
Since these are the operational orders for what became Stuart's expedition, it's fair to say that these are the ground rules under which Stuart operated. After years and years of study, and after examining nearly every minute of Stuart's expedition in detail (see Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg for that analysis), J. D. Petruzzi and I came to the conclusion that, while there was indeed plenty of blame to go around, Stuart nevertheless obeyed these orders to the letter. Jeff Wert disagrees with us, and Jeff and I have had some very spirited discussions about this subject over the years. Then again, that's what makes this fun.
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