Plenty of Blame to go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg
June 1863. The Gettysburg Campaign is in its opening hours. Harness jingles and hoofs pound as Confederate cavalryman James Ewell Brown (JEB) Stuart leads his three brigades of veteran troopers on a ride that triggers one of the Civil War’s most bitter and enduring controversies. Instead of finding glory and victory—two objectives with which he was intimately familiar—Stuart reaped stinging criticism and substantial blame for one of the Confederacy’s most stunning and unexpected battlefield defeats. In Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg, Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi objectively investigate the role Stuart’s horsemen played in the disastrous campaign. It is the first book ever written on this important and endlessly fascinating subject.
Stuart left Virginia under acting on General Robert E. Lee’s discretionary orders to advance into Maryland and Pennsylvania, where he was to screen Lt. Gen. Richard Ewell’s marching infantry corps and report on enemy activity. The mission jumped off its tracks from virtually the moment it began when one unexpected event after another unfolded across Stuart's path. For days, neither Lee nor Stuart had any idea where the other was, and the enemy blocked the horseman’s direct route back to the Confederate army, which was advancing nearly blind north into Pennsylvania. By the time Stuart reached Lee on the afternoon of July 2, the armies had unexpectedly collided at Gettysburg, the second day's fighting was underway, and one of the campaign’s greatest controversies was born.
Did the plumed cavalier disobey Lee’s orders by stripping the army of its “eyes and ears?” Was Stuart to blame for the unexpected combat the broke out at Gettysburg on July 1? Authors Wittenberg and Petruzzi, widely recognized for their study and expertise of Civil War cavalry operations, have drawn upon a massive array of primary sources, many heretofore untapped, to fully explore Stuart’s ride, its consequences, and the intense debate among participants shortly after the battle, through early post-war commentators, and among modern scholars.
The result is a richly detailed study jammed with incisive tactical commentary, new perspectives on the strategic role of the Southern cavalry, and fresh insights on every horse engagement, large and small, fought during the campaign.
About the authors: Eric J. Wittenberg has written widely on Civil War cavalry operations. His books include Glory Enough for All (2002), The Union Cavalry Comes of Age (2003), and The Battle of Monroe’s Crossroads and the Civil War’s Final Campaign (2005). He lives in Columbus, Ohio.
J. David Petruzzi is the author of several magazine articles on Eastern Theater cavalry operations, conducts tours of cavalry sites of the Gettysburg Campaign, and is the author of the popular “Buford’s Boys” website at www.bufordsboys.com. Petruzzi lives in Brockway, Pennsylvania.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - kawebb - LibraryThing
Eric Wittenberg and J D Petruzzi have written a summary of Stuart's ride to Gettysburg and the ongoing debate since then about whether he was right or wrong and whether it made any difference to the ... Read full review
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9th Virginia Cavalry advance Army of Northern artillery attack battery battle battle of Gettysburg Battle of Hanover Battle of Hunterstown Blackford Brandy Station Brig Capt Captain captured Carlisle Chambliss charge Colonel Confederate Corbit corps cross the Potomac Custer dispatch Drive enemy enemy’s Ewell Ewell’s Farnsworth’s Federal fight Fitz Lee’s Fitzhugh Lee flank force front Gettysburg Campaign Hampton Hancock’s Hanover Hill Hooker Hooker’s army horsemen horses Hunterstown Ibid infantry J.E.B. Stuart Jeb Stuart John Jones July June 29 Kilpatrick Lee’s army Lee’s brigade Lieutenant Littlestown Longstreet Major Marshall Maryland McClellan miles Mosby mounted move movements night Northern Virginia orders passed Pennsylvania pickets Pleasonton rear rebel recalled regiment Ridge Roads to Gettysburg Robertson rode route saddle scout shelling Shepherdstown skirmish soldiers South Southern Street Stuart’s Cavalry Stuart’s column Stuart’s ride town troopers Union Union army wagon train Washington Westminster William wounded