Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 13, 1863 (Tuesday): Stuart Back In Good Graces

Ford at Williamsport (

July 13, 1863--4.15 p.m.

Maj. Gen. J. E. B. Stuart,
      Commanding, &c:
    GENERAL:  As arranged this afternoon, I wish you to place your cavalry in position before night, so as to relieve the infantry along the whole extent of their lines when they retire, and take the place of their sharpshooters when withdrawn.  They will be withdrawn about 12 o'clock to-night.  Direct your men to be very vigilant and bold, and not let the enemy discover that our lines have been vacated.  At daylight withdraw your skirmishers, and retire with all your force to cross the river.  Have officers stationed at the fords, so as to direct your men immediately upon arrival, and make every arrangement to get your command over in safety.  The cavalry that occupies Longstreet's line might cross at the bridge if the officer in command will take measures to see that the bridge is clear at day-light.  The rest had better cross at the ford, I think but, but you may take any course that you may think best.  I know it to be a difficult, as well as delicate, operation to cover this arm and then withdraw your command with safety, but I rely upon your good judgment, energy, and boldness to accomplish it, and trust you may be as successful as you have been on former occasions.  After crossing, continue to cover the rear of the army with part of your force, and with the rest move forward to our front, where you will receive further orders.
   Very respectfully, &c,

    R. E. LEE

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 27, Part 3, Page 1001.

If Lee was vexed with Stuart over his performance during the Gettysburg campaign you would not be able to discern it from this memo.  Stuart has the post of honor, covering the withdrawal of the army at Williamsport.

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