By Warren C. Robinson Ph.D. MA BA
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Additional resources for Jeb Stuart and the Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg
Stuart and his men sometimes seemed to derive greater satisfaction from chasing Yankee generals from their beds and feasting on Union army delicacies than from beating the Union cavalrymen in the ﬁeld. But even if so, this caused no harm. All of Stuart’s raids before Gettysburg were legitimate intelligence-gathering operations, taking him out of touch with Lee for no more than a few days. Lee and Stuart seem to have had an unspoken understanding: as long as Stuart did his job of scouting and shielding when and where Lee needed him, he was allowed to add the occasional ﬂamboyant touch to his missions.
Was this all s tuart, lee, and t h e r o l e o f t h e c ava l ry 43 innocent? His aide William W. Blackford swore it was: “Though he dearly loved to kiss a pretty girl, and the pretty girls loved to kiss him, he was as pure as they . . ”23 Stuart developed a fondness for reviews and parades of his troops—to accustom them to riding together in large formations, he explained. But such exercises also provided a stirring spectacle for him and his admirers. Stuart clearly aimed to enjoy his war—to do his duty, but also to play the role of the dashing cavalry hero to the fullest and savor every minute.
23 This has the ring of truth, but there is evidence that Lee, all the same, did have a plan in mind. Conversations reported later by Gen. Isaac Trimble and Col. A. L. 24 The headstrong, stubborn, and violent way Lee conducted Gettysburg, once battle was irrevocably joined, also suggests that he was seeking not just a victory but a climactic triumph. It is also a signiﬁcant clue to his thinking that, for almost the ﬁrst time, he attempted to position his cavalry to attack the Union army if it was forced to fall back, clearly hopeful of turning a retreat into a rout.
Jeb Stuart and the Confederate Defeat at Gettysburg by Warren C. Robinson Ph.D. MA BA