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23b. Stuart better utilized

If we concede the fact that Stuart does not ‘return to the fold’ until the afternoon of 2 July, could his 6000-man cavalry have been better utilized? By the time of his arrival, four of Lee’s nine divisions had been battered into a state of military ineffectiveness. Ewell’s three were out of position to do much to directly support Lee’s Day 3 plan. Anderson’s Division was bloodied but not battered and only Pickett’s had yet to fire a shot.

As it was, Lee assigned Stuart only a supporting role for Day 3. He was to launch a diversionary attack on the lightly defended Union rear and reserve area along the Baltimore Pike. On his right flank, Johnson would renew his attack onto Culp’s Hill – again mainly a diversion. Both were designed to tie up Union forces that might otherwise shore up the Union center where Lee was sending Pickett.

My WHATIF here is why don’t Lee add Stuart’s 6000 to Pickett’s 5000? Instead he cobbled together about 5000 from Hill’s Corps most of whom were now under new commanders replacing those wounded or killed.

As other of these ALT Hx analyses will show, Lee had no units that could have possibly exploited any success that Pickett might have had.

Let us suppose that Lee positioned Stuart’s cavalry at the southern tip of Seminary Ridge. They could have charged up the Emmittsburg Road and followed Pickett’s path. In a matter of minutes – remember it only took Pickett about 20 minutes to cross the valley and reach the wall – they could have been at the throats of the Union defenders with swords swinging and pistols blazing. The shock value of the sudden appearance of four brigades of cavalry would surely have broken the spirit of the Hancock’s men.

I still contend that I fail to see whatever Lee saw in throwing 10,000 men at the Union line. Getting there was hard enough, successfully exploiting any breech was quite something else.   

See the description of The Saddle in Section 30h as to how the terrain may have aided Stuart in such a maneuver.

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