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7g. Exploit?

It is possible to insert here a series of WHATIFs concerning just what it was that even Lee himself would have accepted as a successful outcome. He was truly at the end of his proverbial rope. He had no additional troops available to exploit any ‘success’ that afternoon. It forces one to place oneself on Traveler sitting in the woods on Seminary Ridge watching the debacle unfold and to try to see it as Lee was drinking in the realization that he had executed thousands of his men that afternoon.

One is almost forced to ask here if Stuart’s Cavalry was used to the best advantage in the supporting role that Lee assigned him. [see Section 7h] Might 6000 horsemen galloping across the valley following in Pickett’s wake have had an unsettling effect on the Union line? I suggest that Lee could have kept them more or less hidden along the Emmittsburg Road behind the orchard knoll. As the Union artillery and infantry concentrated their attention on Pickett’s infantry, Stuart could have been upon them in mere seconds, charging along Pickett’s right flank and into the Saddle (see Section 30h). The shock value alone would perhaps have prevented the Union line there from mounting an effective defense. Assuming that he could have sliced through that line, he’d have been in the direct path — the Taneytown Road — that Meade was using to bring in reinforcements. Stuart’s men could have created havoc.

Lee seemed to place a greater likelihood of success by having Stuart approach and possibly penetrate the Union rear by approaching from the east. Lee was wrong again!

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