I admit I have been skulking in the background for a couple of days doing some research and just absorbing what you all have been writing. Many of the comments have been though provoking and rather than blurt out a quick response I had to dwell on them a bit... So here goes...
The level of research and knowledge that Mr JD and Mr Eric have is considerable on this -- and far exceeds what ever Meade could have known at the moment of the battle. And the number of years sudying this battle -- I only wish I had spent more time than I did rather than on military tactics. But those studies have yielded some knowledge that I like to try to apply to things that interest me- like Gettysburg.
One is try to put myself into that moment assume no more information than the individual had at that time.. only then, given his ability, skill etc, can I feel capable of criticism and analysis.
Given the intel reports previously listed and the known Conf divisions facing Meade around noon, only Longstreet was still unaccounted for. So if the intel is accurate and it is 12 miles toward Hunterstown, the initial question is how long would it take an inf force to move that 12 miles - about 4-5 hours??? The next question is: What do I (Meade) do about it?
So the intial intent is to determine if anyone is moving to that flank.
Rather than move an inf unit from where it is needed now, I would suggest moving a cav unit that can move 4 to 7 times faster to check out any suspicion is a better use of assets. And if the cav reports inf moving, then move inf,,, and if cav reports no movement, then I know I have secured that open flank. So I think this is a good use of cav. I am impressed with Meade's use of Cav up to and including the battle, but in the pursuit I have not yet formed an opinion. Far better than Hooker-- more offensively more aggressively than Hooker.
So sending cav out to prove or disprove enemy intentions is a good mission for them. As for sending Kilpatrick versus Gregg, the order went to Gregg who passed it to Kilpatrick... I did not read where anyone was "guaranteeing" (my word) that inf (or Longstreet) was absolutely going to show up at a specific time, only that it was "possible" (my word). Meade might have even viewed it as improbable, but orders were sent to "Confirm or deny" (again the phrase we use today) enemy intentions...
For Mr JD: You may want to consider while CPT Estes may have been surprised by the encounter, it is not relevant -- only whether the commander knew. Now a good commander would try to keep all his men informed, but sometimes that is not possible. So again what were the commanders expecting? And Hampton is clear that he was ordered back due to reports of Federal Cav at Hunterstown. I was reading an 1864 dictionary of military terms terms today - looking up meeting engagement... no luck. Apparently a newer term, and using todays standard would not make this a meeting angagement. One has to consider that an serious infantry battle has been going on for over 24 hours only 6 miles away. How much of a surprise should it have been for cav to be patrolling the flanks. You all have pointed out so many times that is what cav does,,,, so would not a cav man be expecting it. I mean to say if historians can see that pattern, then those who set that pattern should be cognizant of that pattern before the historian sees it???
I realize that some of my thoughts are not history -- for the historian who must see it in black and white before accepting, but after 30 years of studying tactics military tacticians have the experience to be better able to understand what is not written. What need not be said. Confirming or denying enemy intentions is our way of determining what option an enemy will use -- it is more "in the moment" than "in the history". Looking back with all the knowledge now gained one can see this option was not used and can therefore discard it. Meade did not have that luxery.
For Mr Eric: I am a big fan of Sheridan and did a paper on the Valley. A very forward looking fellow. His comments prior to Five Forks is some 20th Century thought! A man ahead of his time....
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