Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart's Controversial Ride to Gettysburg
by J David Petruzzi and Eric Wittenberg
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. Now in paperback, Plenty of Blame to Go Around: Jeb Stuart’s Controversial Ride to Gettysburg by Eric J. Wittenberg and J. David Petruzzi objectively investigates 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 acting on Gen. 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 that 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, early postwar commentators, and 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.
- 456 pages