Midpoint of the War: May to July 1863

Gettysburg: The Third Day

What was Lee’s plan for the third day?

To Longstreet and a growing number of others, it was apparent that Lee should withdraw. To Lee, however, it was obvious that his men had failed only by the narrowest of margins, and that one more well-coordinated punch might well bring them to complete victory. Lee also had his eyes and ears back, because J. E. B. Stuart had returned on the previous afternoon.

When Stuart first came into Lee’s presence, the latter raised his hand as if he might strike Stuart. Lee then upbraided Stuart, demanding to know how it was possible that he—the eyes and ears of the army—had been gone for a week. Stuart replied that he had enjoyed numerous successes and had brought 150 wagon loads of captured supplies, to which Lee replied, “Yes, but they are an impediment to me now.” Within minutes, however, Lee brought back Stuart into the fold, saying, “Help me fight these people.”


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