Stuart's Reconnaissance Ride around McClellan during the Peninsular Campaign
552 Words2 Pages
Stuart's reconnaissance ride around McClellan during the Peninsular Campaign
One of the boldest actions of Maj. Gen. James Ewell Brown Stuart under the leadership of Robert E. Lee was his effort to make "a complete circuit around the Union Army, heading to the north end of the lower peninsula (near the York River) and returning to Richmond along the James." . Allowing Stuart to make this move was one of the first decisions of Robert E. Lee, who had just replaced the more cautious Gen. Joseph E. Johnston as the leader of the Confederates. "In the aftermath of the inconclusive battle," led by Johnson "Lee suspected that the right flank of McClellan's army was 'in the air' not anchored to any natural formation, and thus vulnerable to attack. To be certain, he decided to send Stuart to reconnoiter."
Stuart's proposal to entirely circumnavigate the Union forces was not a conventional wartime strategy; nor was it considered prudent. But "the possibility of such a grand symbolic maneuver appealed mightily to the boisterous Confederate [Lee]: it would make the Army of the Potomac seem ponderous and ineffectual and the Confederates dashing and invincible" even though logic suggested a smaller force, capable of moving quickly, was preferred. To confuse the Union troops, on the first day of the expedition Stuart "rode north on the Brooke Turnpike before turning north at Turner's Tavern in hopes of giving the Yanks the impression he was off to support Stonewall Jackson's approach