The Early and Stuart Controversy – Part 2 Ewell to blame?
Pennsylvania historical marker from the Gettysburg Campaign.
Several of you posted some interesting comments and thoughts in regard to whether Jubal Early or J.E.B. Stuart bears the brunt of the blame for their failure to rendezvous in York County on June 30, 1863, during the Gettysburg Campaign.
Today’s briefly throw in another general officer into the culpability argument – Lt. Gen. Richard Stoddard Ewell, commander of the Second Corps and for much of the week before the Battle of Gettysburg, the highest ranking Confederate officer north of the Mason-Dixon Line. He was Major General Early’s superior, and perhaps should share in that officer’s blame for the fiasco that Stuart’s absence implied.
According to Early, of course not exactly an unbiased source of information, he did not receive any orders from Ewell to watch for the arrival of Stuart, or to send parties out looking for the late arriving cavalier. Of course, Ewell and his defenders have a different slant, in that a major general operating along the border with Maryland should have been watching more carefully.
Here is Early’s post-war summary of the actions of the days immediately preceding the Battle of Gettysburg. Note the entire lack of any mention of receiving any orders or advice regarding Jeb Stuart. Perhaps Early never did receive anything, and in that case, Ewell must held accountable in part for the failed connection between Stuart’s cavalry and the Second Corps. Or, perhaps Ewell did indeed inform Early of Stuart’s mission, and Early must accept sole responsibility for the failure, particularly in light of all the noise coming from the Battle of Hanover on June 30…
“During my movement to York, General Ewell had moved towards Harrisburg and reached Carlisle with Rodes’ division and Jenkins’ cavalry, Johnson’s division going to Shippensburg;–Longstreet’s and Hill’s corps had also moved into Pennsylvania and reached the vicinity of Chambersburg, while the Federal Army had moved north on the East side of South Mountain, interposing between ours and Washington.
Late on the afternoon of the 29th, Captain Elliot Johnson, aide to General Ewell, came to me with a copy of a note from General Lee to General Ewell stating the enemy’s army was moving north and directing a concentration of the corps on the west side of the South Mountain; and also verbal instructions from General Ewell to move back so as to rejoin the rest of the corps, and information of his purpose to move back to unite with Johnson.
In accordance with these instructions, I put my whole command in motion at daylight on the morning of the 30th, taking the route by the way of Weiglestown and East Berlin towards Heidlersburg, so as to be able to move from that point to Shippensburg or Greenwood by the way of Aaronsburg, as circumstances might require, Colonel White being directed to move his battalion of cavalry on the pike from York towards Gettysburg, to ascertain if any force of the enemy [SLM NOTE: the enemy; not to watch for Stuart’s arrival] was on that road. At East Berlin, a small squad of the enemy’s cavalry was seen and pursued by my cavalry advance, and I received at that place information, by a courier from Colonel White, that a cavalry and infantry force had been at Abbotstown on the York and Gettysburg road, but had moved south towards Hanover Junction. [SLM NOTE: Early had earlier heard artillery booming, and now he is informed that enemy cavalry and infantry were on the move. Shouldn’t he have put and two together that somebody was contesting these bluecoats, and most likely it was Stuart?] A courier also reached me here with a dispatch from General Ewell, informing me that he was moving with Rodes’ division by the way of Petersburg to Heidlersburg, and directing me to march for the same place.
I marched to within three miles of Heidlersburg and bivouacked my command, and then rode to see General Ewell at Heidlersburg, where I found him with Rodes’ division. I was informed by him that the object was to concentrate the corps at or near Cashtown at the eastern base of the mountain, and I was directed to move to that point the next day by the way of Hunterstown and Mummasburg, while Rodes would take the route by Middletown and Arendtsville.”